According to WorkSafe Victoria, 50 Victorian construction workers are injured each week and for many, the cause is simply a matter of site safety and good housekeeping not being up to scratch! Injuries include back and neck pain, torn ligaments, cuts and wounds, broken bones, nail piercings, eye injuries and worse. Injuries lead to time off work, delays in construction and a cost to the industry of over $50 million per year.
Site safety doesn’t just happen. It requires planning, monitoring and supervision. Site rules should be clearly established and communicated to everyone on site prior to commencement and once the site is established proper supervision is critical to ensure everyone is following the rules.
It’s a good idea to tick off a housekeeping checklist at the start of each project. Before construction begins the site supervisor needs to establish whether power is available to site or temporary power is required; that water is available; toilets have been delivered to site and temporary fencing is safely erected.
If temporary power is required, you’ll need to establish whether you need overhead or underground power to site and whether you require domestic, commercial or 3-phase power. The site should then be clearly marked where you need the power pole installed to avoid damage to underground amenities.
You should also mark the site where you would like the toilet placed. Toilets should be delivered to even and stable ground to ensure the proper function of the toilet and to prevent tipping. They should also be clean and ready for use. You should also be aware that toilets cannot be delivered via crane truck to site if the area is obstructed by trees or potentially hazardous overhanging power lines.
Careful attention to temporary site structures such as temporary fencing, hoarding, site sheds, awnings, covered walkways and signage is imperative. Winds in Victoria can gust up to 120km/h and poorly braced or constructed temporary structures can collapse, become detached and blow around on site, fall over and potentially cause serious injuries. Temporary structures need to be designed to resist severe weather conditions including uplift and lateral wind loads.
Everyone on site is responsible for keeping the site clean and tidy. First off, you need to ensure there is an adequate supply of bins, cages or skips on site to prevent rubbish and debris blowing around and getting underfoot. And going forward, the bins should be regularly emptied.
Access to and from the site should be clearly marked and timber crossovers can be employed to prevent damage to footpaths from heavy loads entering and exiting the site. There should be designated areas for deliveries and storage of equipment and walkways should be clear of all obstacles.
When your site is set up and ready to work, ensure all trades are inducted before they start work; ensure they know the site rules and follow them; and finally: check, monitor & supervise.