Construction Site Safety

Builder Construction Site Safety Help: 3 Quick Ways to Get Safe

Why all good builders need to worry about construction site safety

Construction sites are active bee hives of activity, with people and machinery moving about in proximity to each other. Because there are so many moving parts in a typical construction site, managing risks to prevent accidents is a lot more complex than the average office.

Despite rigorous safety standards in Australia, thousands of construction workers are injured onsite every year, and most accidents are preventable.

As a construction safety consultant, and having helped numerous builders across NSW, I’d like to help you discover how you can create a safer construction site to protect your workers.

1.  Conduct a site risk safety review

Common hazards around construction sites include:

  • Insufficient signage
  • Ineffective safety measures and exclusion zones for heavy equipment
  • Inadequate space
  • Poor planning
  • Lack of communication.

A site risk safety review identifies, and prioritizes all the risks and potential hazards of a site. This gives builders a very clear plan forward on addressing safety issues.

Construction safety

2.  Stay informed

A key part of creating a safer construction site is to continuously educate yourself about the dangers. The SafeWork NSW site is a fantastic resource covering all the safety issues present on modern construction sites, including:

  • Falls from heights
  • Electrocution
  • Moving plant
  • Manual handling
  • Work related stress.

This resource page also covers many of the latest safety issues affecting construction sites. Regularly educating yourself about what can and does happen on work sites will make you more diligent and aware of the risks.

3.  Engage regularly with your team

Regular and ongoing information and training sessions with your contractors and your employers where you discuss the relevant safety issues can significantly reduce workplace accidents. When all eyes are on the lookout for potential problems, there is less chance of hazards going unnoticed.

Need help in making your construction site safer?

I’m Sean Brown, the founder of SMB Safety Pty Ltd, and for over 25 years I have been helping small and medium builders across NSW and Australia build safer construction sites. If this article has you thinking about improving safety on your construction site, give me a call and let me help you fill in the gaps.

Other useful links:

Building and Construction Safety Services

Latest Safety Incident Alerts

Electrical Safety on Construction Sites

safer construction site

PPE and COVID – Creating a Safer Construction Site

COVID And PPE gear defence

COVID-19 has been incredibly disruptive to the construction industry in NSW. Lockdowns have turned many construction zones around the greater Sydney area into unfinished ghost towns. Some hope arrived in August, with new regulations easing restrictions, but still limiting the number of workers on site.

Physical distancing is mandatory to help curb the spread of the virus, and some workers will need to have at least a single or double dose of vaccine to get the all clear to show up for work. Entries and exits must be closely monitored to prevent overcrowding and maintain adequate physical distancing.

The mandates go a long way towards keeping workers safe, but PPE gear is still an excellent second line of defence. The more we can keep the virus at bay, the sooner the construction industry can get back into full swing.

Builder Safety

Develop a Covid-19 safety plan

A documented COVID-19 safety plan is mandatory in the Greater Sydney area (other than occupied residences), so here’s what you need to do.

You will need a plan to deal with anybody who becomes unwell on the site. Inform all workers that they must provide immediate notification as soon as they are aware of testing positive or have been alerted that they are a close contact.

Staff should be trained in matters of personal hygiene and use the latest infection control procedures, including cleaning hands, avoiding personal contact, and wearing face masks. If it’s inconvenient for workers to carry personal hand sanitizer, ensure there are hand sanitizing stations conveniently placed around the site.

First aid personnel need to receive adequate training and have access to PPE to minimise COVID-19 exposure as much as possible during administration of first aid, including gloves, facemasks, and protective CPR equipment.

Unfortunately, the pandemic will continue to create challenges for construction workers for some time to come, and we all must work together for the benefit of all. Adhering to the latest guidelines and safety protocols will help us all get back to work sooner.

Need help in making your construction site safer?

Need help creating a safe work environment? I’m Sean, the founder of SMB Safety Pty Ltd, and I can bring my decades of experience in the construction industry to your site to help you keep your workers healthy and safe.

Give me a call and let me help you fill in the gaps of your safety protocols to create a safer work environment for all.

Other useful links:

Building and Construction Safety Services

Latest Safety Incident Alerts

Electrical Safety on Construction Sites

October – National Safe Work Month – Time to Think Safe

The national safe work month extends throughout the year

October is National Safe Work Month, but it doesn’t mean anything goes for the other 11 months. National Safe Work Month serves as a pertinent reminder that safety at work is an important issue because no accident is acceptable.

We should all work safely every month, but it’s always good to have a reminder to take stock, review our safety records, and find areas where you can make improvements.

The theme for October is “think safe, work safe, be safe.” Let’s explore how you and your employees can apply each of these principles to a typical workday.

Think safe

Thinking safe means making yourself aware of all safety issues in the workplace. You are focused on your work, but you are also mindful of your surroundings and ready to recognise a hazardous situation. Safety at work is everyone’s responsibility. By thinking safe, you help to keep yourself and your colleagues out of harm’s way.

Work safe

Abiding by the “work safe” principle means you take every possible measure to create a safe work area. You follow the prescribed safety practices, wear the correct gear, and constantly scan the environment for hazards. When you notice a safety issue, you take the appropriate measures to deal with or remove the danger, including notifying others, putting up signage and barriers, or fixing the problem.

Construction safety

Be safe

The final message in the theme for National Safe Work Month means to take the first two principles and practice them diligently in the workplace at all times. A safe work month does not mean we can let safety protocols lapse once the month is over because safety should be at the top of everyone’s mind every month of the year.

Need help in making your NSW construction site safer?

I’m Sean Brown, the founder of SMB Safety, and I have been helping construction based businesses create safer work environments for over 25 years. If National Safe Work Month has you thinking about improving safety in your workplace, give me a call and let me help you fill in the gaps of your safety protocols to create a safer work environment for all.

Other useful links:

Building and Construction Safety Services

Latest Safety Incident Alerts

Electrical Safety on Construction Sites

Falls and Ladders on NSW Construction Sites: Steps to Play it Safe

Falls are the leading cause of fatalities in the NSW construction industry

Working at heights is a high-risk activity. Sadly, it is also a leading cause of death and injury on construction sites across Australia.

Having attended numerous construction sites across NSW, the one thing I continue to find concerning is the incorrect use of ladders.

I’ve lost count of how many damaged ladders I see in daily use and in some cases are literally on their last leg!

“Ladders are up there with the most misused pieces of equipment on construction sites.”

Statistics from the Safe Work Australia website (Source) show that between 2015-2019:

  • 122 workers were killed following a fall from heights.
  • The greatest number of fatalities involved falling from buildings and other structures (25), ladders (19) and horses, donkeys, and mules (10).
  • The construction industry accounted for 40% of falls-related fatalities.

I decided to have a chat with construction workers on various sites to find out their understanding of what should and shouldn’t be done with a ladder with the intent of preventing falls and injury.

Ladder falls

What you should do?

  • Foot the ladder at the base
  • Secure the ladder at the top (best practice zip ties)
  • Ladder to be at a ratio of 1:4
  • Extend the ladder approximately 1m above the landing at the top
  • Use industrial rated ladders
  • Always have three points of contact while accessing the ladder.

What you shouldn’t do?

  • Don’t carry tools up with you while climbing a ladder
  • Don’t use a damaged ladder – remove and dispose of these from your site
  • Don’t misuse the ladder
  • Don’t obstruct access to the ladder
  • Don’t place the ladder in an unsafe environment
  • Don’t exceed the maximum rating of the ladder (one person at a time on the ladder).

So how can you play it safe?

The best way to eliminate fall hazards is to perform the work at ground level.

When this isn’t possible, you can manage risks by providing safe access points to and from the workplace, introducing fall prevention devices, arrest systems, and work positioning systems.

Fall prevention systems include roof safety mesh, barriers, scaffolding, and guard railing, to mention a few.

Need help in assessing and improving the use of ladders and other safety standards on your NSW construction site? I am one call away

My name is Sean Brown, and I am the founder of SMB Safety Pty Ltd. In the industry for over 25 years, I help construction based businesses identify safety risks and mitigate them through better worksafe systems.

The starting point is you and I having a no-obligation telephone call about your concerns and objectives. I can very quickly help you identify gaps and clear steps forward.

Other useful links:

Building and Construction Safety Services

Latest Safety Incident Alerts

Electrical Safety on Construction Sites

Construction Sydney Safety

Improving Safety on Building Construction Sites by 2022

Are these risk areas on your radar?

Achieving an excellent health and safety record can only do great things for your business reputation, including increasing project opportunities, higher retention of employees and winning valuable clients. 

In July 2018 the NSW Government developed the Building and Construction Work Health and Safety Plan in consultation with several organisations. This plan aligns with the SafeWork NSW Work Health and Safety Roadmap 2022 to drive down fatality, injury and illness rates in the NSW building and construction industry. ( Access plan here).

The following priority risk areas have been identified as part of this plan.

It is worth checking if these apply to your operations:

1. Fall from heights

Falls are the leading cause of fatalities in the NSW construction industry, with 42 deaths in NSW reported between 2003 and 2013, or 35% of construction site deaths. The best way to eliminate fall hazards is to perform the work at ground level.

When this isn’t possible, you can manage risks by providing safe access points to and from the workplace, introducing fall prevention devices, arrest systems, and work positioning systems.

Fall prevention systems include roof safety mesh, barriers, scaffolding, and guard railing, to mention a few.

2. Electrocution

Electrocution accounts for 17% of construction site deaths (20 in total) between 2003 and 2013. Most were the result of electrical contact during electrical installations for fixed plants and machinery. Electrocution also occurs because of inadequate training, which you can rectify by ensuring your team is educated and aware before the start of the shift.

3. Plant

Workers involved in collisions with mobile or fixed plant such as earthmoving equipment, trucks, and cranes always come off second best, with serious injuries or death the most likely outcome. Employing a strict hierarchy of plant safety will help reduce the workplace risks, including substituting or replacing hazardous parts, creating exclusion zones through distance or physical barriers, implementing administrative tag-out procedures, issuing PPE, and use warning signs, to name just a few.

4. Falling objects

Falling objects are a severe risk for workers as well as any passing public. Falling objects killed Fourteen workers in 2003 and 2013. You can create a safer work zone by preventing falling objects and minimising damage if they drop, including hardhat policies, lanyards, wristbands, and attachment points.

The average worksite has dozens of safety hazards workers face every day they are on the job. Minimise dangers by making sure you are aware of all the risks, staying on top of safety standards, and educating everyone involved in the project.

You can find out more information about keeping workers safe by following this link.

Need help in assessing and improving the safety standards on your NSW construction site? I am one call away

My name is Sean Brown and I am the founder of SMB Safety. In the industry for over 25 years, I help construction based businesses identify safety risks and mitigate them through better worksafe systems.

The starting point is you and I having a no-obligation telephone call about your concerns and objectives. I can very quickly help you identify gaps and clear next steps forward. 

Other useful links:

Building and Construction Safety Services

Latest Safety Incident Alerts

Electrical Safety on Construction Sites

Construction Site Personal Protective Equipment

Construction Site Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) Requirements: Mandatory and General Requirements

What you need to know about PPE

According to SafeWork Australia, Personal Protective Equipment, also commonly referred to as PPE, is the term used to describe any item or article of clothing that is used to reduce the risks to a worker’s health and help maintain their safety. 

Today I want to break this down by explaining:

  • General requirements relating to PPE
  • Mandatory and task specific PPE requirements.

General requirements relating to PPE are simple and straight forward, or are they?

How many workers on site are constantly reminded:

Put your helmet on!

“Wear your safety glasses!”

“You need your full-face shield when grinding.”

You wonder how effective the site induction process is at times when workers are observed working not long after the induction.

General PPE requirements apply across construction sites. PCBU’s (person conducting a business or undertaking) must provide PPE to workers:

  1. Suitable, having regard to the nature of the work and any hazard associated with the work
  2. Suitable, regarding size and fit and reasonably comfortable for the worker who is to use or wear it
  3. Maintained, repaired, or replaced, including clean and hygienic and in good working order.

In addition:

  1. PCBU must provide the worker with information, training, and instruction – proper use and wearing, storage and maintenance
  2. Workers must use or wear the PPE in accordance with any information, training, or instruction
  3. Workers must not intentionally misuse or damage the PPE
  4. Workers must inform the PCBU of any damage, defect to PPE.

For a more specific reference the information may be found in the WHS Regulation 2017, Division 5 Personal Protective Equipment.

Most construction sites will meet this legal requirement as a minimum through implementation of Mandatory and Task specific PPE requirements.

Mandatory PPE generally include:

  1. Safety helmets
  2. Steel capped boots
  3. Hi visibility vest or clothing.

Task specific PPE generally include:

  1. Hearing protection (Ear plugs, Earmuffs or similar)
  2. Hand protection (gloves)
  3. Eye protection (safety glasses)
  4. Face protection (full face shield)
  5. Breathing protection (face mask, respirator)
  6. Body protection (long sleeve, long pants or similar).
Construction Site Personal Protective Equipment

Task specific PPE requirements may be found also from user manuals, product information and the like. For example, when using a circular saw the user manual has a safety section explaining the hazards and the PPE requirements.

Responsibilities?

According to Safe Work Australia, the role of “PCBUs is to ensure PPE is used and worn by the worker, so far as is reasonably practicable and is maintained, repaired or replaced to minimise risk to the worker who uses it. 

PCBUs must also provide the worker with information, training and instruction in the use, maintenance and storage of PPE.

Need help with a PPE assessment? I am one call away

My name is Sean Brown and I am the founder of SMB Safety. In the industry for over 25 years, I help construction based businesses identify safety risks and mitigate them through better worksafe systems.

The starting point is you and I having a no-obligation telephone call about your concerns and objectives. I can very quickly help you identify gaps and clear next steps forward. 

Other useful links:

Building and Construction Safety Services

Latest Safety Incident Alerts

Electrical Safety on Construction Sites

Electrical safety protocols

Electrical Safety on Site – Why does the Good Ole’ Lead Get a Beating?

Talking about electrical safety in NSW

How many eyes rolling did I just imagine seeing after reading the headline? More than just a few, I’m sure.

“Not another lead to repair!” I can hear the electrician exclaim as it gets thrown through the site shed door, hitting the wall, and falling to the floor.

We all know, and especially those in the construction industry, that electrical safety is up there with falls from height, working around mobile powered plant and the other eighteen high risk construction work hazards, yet we don’t give it the priority it’s due.

According to Safework NSW, electrocution is the second leading cause of traumatic fatalities in construction in NSW (Source).

Electrical safety requirements

Where do we start when it comes to electrical safety legal requirements for your business, it’s employees and any sub-contractors that you may engage?

You may be surprised to know that very few electricians know what the requirements are, meaning many are at risk of non-compliance.

So it’s fair to say, its all starts with education and information.

In NSW the legal requirements are explained in the key safety legislation; NSW WHS Act 2011 and NSW Regulations 2017. More specifically, Part 4.7 General electrical safety in workplaces and energised electrical work.

Additional to the key legislation is the Code of Practice, Managing electrical risks.

Electrical safety

Electrical safety considerations

The other day I had my electrician do some work at my office. I observed him during my conversation with a client on the phone and here’s what I observed.

The electrician had an apprentice with him who was unpacking the van with the gear requirements for the job. The supervisor was off to the side of the van getting the miscellaneous items but keeping an eye on the apprentice.

On the door of the van was a checklist (I noticed this after the client conversation when I was paying for the job) with the heading “Your safety is important – check, check, check!”

As they drove off, it got me thinking of what happens on the sites I visit. Does the message on the checklist run through the minds of those workers prior to them commencing work?

Your safety is important – check, check, check!”

Electrical safety protocols

So, what do we need to consider when it comes to electrical safety on a construction site in NSW?

Information, training and awareness

The best time on a site to give the information, training and awareness to your team is during the conversation prior to the shift. The generic term is Prestart and or Toolbox Talk.

You can get help with this by engaging a qualified safety consultant to assist with the delivery of the training as well as helping your team understand key construction site risks and how to identify and mitigate them.

Test and tag

All electrical equipment must be tested and tagged and is generally done as per the requirements in the NSW WHS Regulations 2017. The period ranges between immediately for new leads and equipment to max three monthly.

Ancillary items

There are many ways to safely elevate leads off the surface which include lead stands, lead hooks to mention a few.

These are lightweight and easily moved from location to location on site.

Need help with electrical safety compliance for your business?

My name is Sean Brown and I am the founder of SMB Safety. In the industry for over 25 years, I help construction based businesses identify safety risks and mitigate them through better worksafe systems. The starting point is you and I having a no-obligation telephone call about your concerns and objectives. I can very quickly help you identify gaps and clear next steps forward. 

Other useful links:

Building and Construction Safety Services

Latest Safety Incident Alerts