The topic of Occupational Health and Safety (OHS) is never far away from the front page, which demonstrates that workers in every sector across the country should be doing more to keep safe.
Here is just a glimpse of the OHS-focused articles that have already made headlines this year.
New South Wales man falls to death at building site
Thursday (January 9) – just over a week into 2014 – saw new sources across the country reporting on the tragic death of a man in Barangaroo, New South Wales. The 30-year-old was working on scaffolding at a building site in the inner-city suburb when he lost his footing and fell 30 metres.
Though ambulance officers arrived not long after the accident occurred, the man was pronounced dead at the scene. As a result, a union is accusing the man's employer of "failing to supervise workers properly at the site," according to Sky News.
While some witnesses have said they believe the man suffered a heart attack moments before he fell, Brian Parker, New South Wales secretary of the Construction, Forestry, Mining and Energy Union (CFMEU), told Sky News that he is "confident there was a lack of supervision and mentoring for this young bloke".
Another spokesperson for the CFMEU said that it was likely the man had not undergone the necessary training to be working on scaffolding.
This story demonstrates just how easy it is to have an accident when the correct OHS rules and regulations are not followed.
Safe Work Australia has published countless reports on the dangers associated with working at an elevated level. In a report titled "Work-Related Injuries and Fatalities Involving a Fall from Height, Australia", the agency revealed that falls are a "major cause" of death in workplaces across the country, responsible for the loss of 232 lives between July 2003 and June 2011.
The agency has also published a "Code of Practice" for those working at heights, which outlines the responsibilities – otherwise known as "duties of care" – of employers and employees on building and other work sites.
One of the words that appears time and time again in this document is "supervision" – workers must be supervised when on scaffolding or ladders, when using Individual Fall-Arrest Systems (IFAS) and when operating Travel Restraint Systems, to name just a few. As Mr Parker said, supervision could have been the difference between life and death for the New South Wales man.
In addition to this, all workers who perform tasks at a height – whether they are employed in the construction or any other sector – are required to undergo Working at Heights Training.
It's important that people on scaffolding, ladders and elevated work platforms are able to assess the risks of working environment, take steps to eliminate or minimise these risks and understand both the main causes of falls and how to prevent them.
This is all knowledge you can gain from AlertForce's Working at Heights Training, which has been specifically designed to provide workers with an excellent grounding in this area. You can take a General Awareness Course online, which is quick, easy and could save your or someone else's life in future.
Western Australian man involved in fatal crush incident
It's not just the construction sector that needs to take a long, hard look at its attitude toward safety. A 33-year-old man died at a mining site in the Pilbara region of Western Australia after he was injured at a heavy vehicle workshop on New Year's Eve.
Australian Mining revealed this is the second fatal accident that has occurred at the mining site in the past four months, and the third death in the mining sector to have taken place in December.
The Western Australian man was "undertaking work on a surface miner" with a co-worker when the accident took place, explains Australian Mining. He was killed at the mining site, while his co-worker was airlifted to hospital with serious leg injuries.
According to The Australian, this and previous accidents at the mining site have resulted in a number of complaints being made online by "current and ex-employees at the mine". Some of them described the mining site as "dangerous" and even "cowboy run", reveals The Australian, and believe its operators are more interested in the productivity of the mine than the safety of its workers.
On December 30, WA Today said the Department of Mines and Petroleum had ordered the operators to tighten their safety procedures, increase the level of supervision of workers on the mining site and make sure that proper safety checks are conducted.
It is also important people working on mining sites undergo the necessary training, especially in areas that are unique to their industry.
For example, AlertForce offers Confined Spaces Training, which provides workers with the knowledge and skills they need to perform tasks safely in confined spaces, such as mines.
It covers everything from the hazards associated with confined spaces, the different types of atmospheres you might be faced with (such as flammable, oxygen deficient and toxic), and how to keep yourself safe using the correct procedures, respiratory and personal protective equipment and atmosphere testing.
As with Working at Heights Training, AlertForce can provide you with a General Awareness Course that covers the basics of working in confined spaces – get in touch with us today if you want to find out more!