WorkSafe cracks down on construction

Thursday, 05 February, 2009

WorkSafe Victoria states that basic ‘housekeeping’ failures on Victoria’s building sites are costing the industry $50 million a year. The alarming figure has prompted a WorkSafe campaign aimed at eliminating easily preventable and potentially career-changing injuries.

The Director of WorkSafe’s Construction and Utilities Division, Chris Webb, said good housekeeping didn’t just happen, but required ongoing effort by everyone on site: “Simply cleaning up work areas as you go and keeping walkways and access points clear prevents injured backs and necks, ligament sprains, broken bones and cuts that typically leave people off the job for 10 weeks.”

From the beginning of February, inspectors will begin site visits as part of a three-month, statewide ‘Back to basics’ campaign.

Webb said where inspectors find that sites — including amenities like toilets and lunch rooms — are dangerous, untidy or unclean or where supervision is missing or inadequate, improvement action will be taken.

“Employers need to ensure work areas are well set up and that good housekeeping practices are in place,” he said. “Workers need to clean up after themselves so they and their workmates aren’t put at risk. If basic matters like housekeeping are not attended to, it’s a sign that more serious issues are likely to exist on the site.

“The effect of this may be that work is disrupted and delayed while the issues are resolved.”

Webb also stated that site supervisors must establish and enforce standards and ensure risks are communicated and acted on by all parties including sub-contractors: “The responsibility for construction site safety is shared by the principal contractor, sub-contractors and the workforce. It’s part of the over-arching responsibility to provide and maintain a safe workplace.”

Information on a range of construction industry health and safety issues including a detailed ‘Back to basics’ checklist can be found at www.worksafe.vic.gov.au/construction.

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