There are a number of direct and indirect costs borne to both the employer and the employee as a result of accidents in the construction industry. Compensation payouts, loss of productivity, long-term pain on the part of the worker, and legal conundrums are just a few examples of the detrimental effects of accidents on Australian jobsites.
From falling off roofs and ladders to back injuries caused by lifting heavy items, to being hit by falling objects, accidents on Australian construction sites are commonplace and as we know too well can be fatal.
Indeed, statistics show that even though the construction industry accounts for about 9% of the Australian workforce, it accounts for 12% of workplace-related fatalities.
Jobsite ANZ spoke to Safe Work Australia, the Australian Government statutory body for workplace health and safety as well as workers’ compensation, to find out how employers and employees can decrease the risk of accidents on the jobsite.
Employer and Employee Responsibilities
According to a spokesperson from Safe Work Australia, in the context of a construction site, a builder has a “general duty to do everything that is reasonably practicable to manage risks to health and safety that arise from construction work. [This includes] the risk of falling from a height, risks associated with working with heavy machinery, or risks to the general public arising from heavy vehicles moving to and from the site.”
A duty holder must take the time to identify hazards that exist on the jobsite, assess the risks associated with the hazard, and work out ways to minimise the risk from the hazard.
Employees, too, must take a level of responsibility for preventing injury or accidents on the construction site.
Employees, too, must take a level of responsibility for preventing injury or accidents on the construction site. According to Safe Work Australia, construction workers needs to “take reasonable care of their own health and safety. They should also take reasonable care that the actions they take or don’t at work do not negatively impact other people’s health and safety.”
Part of this involves following instructions, policies, and procedures set out by the builder or employer.
Tips for Preventing Construction Accidents
A spokesperson from Safe Work Australia provided the following best practice tips to assist in the prevention of accidents and injuries on Australian jobsites:
Falls are a major cause of death and serious injury on construction sites in Australia. Construction workers should take extra care to ensure they are aware of the risks, processes, and procedures — put in place to manage falls.
Consultation is not just a legal requirement; it can save lives. Building a safety culture where construction workers have the confidence to bring up work health and safety issues before an incident occurs is essential.
A work health and safety management plan must be prepared in writing for each construction project. Recording the relevant processes and procedures established to manage these risks in one place ensure everyone involved in the project is aware of their role in making sure everyone goes home healthy and safe at the end of each work day.
Safety on jobsites is a much-discussed subject; so much so that “safety” can become a meaningless buzzword in the air that has no connection to one’s personal well-being. However construction safety can mean life itself. Let’s make sure we understand what’s at stake.