Why health and safety training should be the construction industry’s number one priority
The construction industry can be a dangerous one to work in and it has been identified as a national priority to reduce the number and rate of fatalities and serious claims by the Australian Work Health and Safety Strategy 2012-2022. One of the key ways of ensuring that reduction takes place, is the provision of work health and safety training.
As well as being an industry filled with potential hazards, the industry is known to be one in which time pressures are constant and the demands to complete different phases of construction by particular deadlines are relentless. This combination of a hazardous industry and a highly competitive landscape can be disastrous for workplace health and safety if training is sidestepped or scrimped on in the name of saving costs or extending work hours. No one wins when safety comes second.
SafeWork Australia has identified these telling statistics in the construction industry:
- Worker fatalities are relatively high with 3.0 fatalities per 100,000 workers.
- Serious claims are high with 8.1 serious claims per million hours worked.
- Workers aged 45-54 account for the highest proportion of worker fatalities and serious claims, followed by workers aged under 25 years.
- Falls from a height accounted for the largest proportion of fatalities (30%), while muscular stress from lifting, carrying or putting down objects accounted for the highest proportion of serious claims (16%)
The construction industry accounts for approximately 9% of total employment with that figure expected to grow strongly – and above the national average – over the coming years. So the need for consistent, high quality training will only increase and the necessity for the industry to make workplace health and safety a core value of any undertaking will intensify.
While much workplace safety will seem like common sense, to dismiss it as such will ultimately endanger workers. Training and investment in making safety a daily priority is important not just for junior workers new to a site, but for more experienced workers who have a lot to contribute and will often themselves be facing the challenges of working with new equipment, new techniques and evolving technologies. The figures above show that both young and older workers experience a high rate of workplace accidents: safety is for everyone.
Remember, if you are a person or business conducting an undertaking (PCBU), then according to the Work Health and Safety Act, your duty of care involves:
- Ensuring the health and safety of your workers and that they are not at risk from the work being carried out;
- Providing and maintaining a safe work environment – including machinery, structures, substances and systems of work;
- Provision of and access to adequate facilities for the welfare of workers;
- Adequate supervision and monitoring of workers’ health and safety; and
- “the provision of any information, training, instruction or supervision that is necessary to protect all persons from risks to their health and safety arising from work carried out as part of the conduct of the business or undertaking.” (Division 2, Part 19f)
Some of the hazards construction industry workers face include:
- Falls from height
- Falling objects
- Exposure hazardous materials
- Injuries from operating machinery
- Motor vehicle injuries
- Dust inhalation
- Working in confined spaces
Most, if not all these hazards can be prevented or avoided by providing proper work health and safety training. The most obvious benefit of course is that training prevents injuries and fatalities. Other benefits of providing work health and safety training include:
- Reduction of overall construction costs by reducing penalties and fines, compensation claims and associated administrative costs, and legal expenses
- Higher productivity thanks to fewer injury-related absences and time spent managing turnover and new or temporary staff
- Higher workplace morale which in turn can lead to higher productivity
- More efficient and successful recruitment and retention of workers
- A competitive edge thanks to a good health and safety record
When workplace health and safety is seen as a key performance indicator and a core company value, everyone wins. A robust and regular training program is key to any work health and safety framework so give AlertForce a call today to discuss making health and safety training front and centre to your construction industry projects. We provide health and safety training that addresses all the risks and hazards listed above.
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