workplace safety

Stay safe

Safety in the workplace should be a shared responsibility that is taken seriously by everyone, every day.


Kristin Brookfield

Over the past two months, as members have worked to come to grips with the demands coronavirus (COVID-19) has placed on both businesses and personal life, HIA has been reminded of the resilience, the ingenuity and the willingness our members have to adapt to change. 

One of the most significant examples of this has been the response to the ‘making space on site’ guidelines launched in the first weeks of the crisis. 

COVID-19 safety 

As governments moved to shut down much of the economy, the housing industry came within a whisker of being closed for business. HIA’s response to government was to outline how home building, in particular low-rise new home building and renovation work, could remain a safe place to work. To show this, HIA developed the first two ‘making space on site’ industry guides for new home sites, and for renovation and repair sites. 

These simple one-page checklists provided members with a ‘how to’ on COVID-19 safety, tailored to residential building sites. The guides included stepping up and accepting a limit on the number of workers onsite, accepting the need to make changes to the way work was scheduled, how breaks were taken and even how people travelled to job sites. 

The response from members has been overwhelmingly positive. So far, there has been 25,000 views of COVID-19 resources on HIA’s website and more than 17,000 views of the ‘making space on site’ guides. Members committed to following these guidelines and making space on site, and have shared with us by email and social media their support for the guides, including photos of onsite COVID safe practices. 

The ‘making space on site’ toolkit has grown to include five industry guides, two consumer guides, and a site induction tool, all supported by a social media campaign to share the message. 



Members committed to following the guidelines and have shared their support for the guides on social media


workplace safety
workplace safety
workplace safety

HIA SafeScan COVID-19 Site Induction 

One of the most interesting parts of the member response to ‘making space on site’ has been the take up of the HIA SafeScan COVID-19 Site Induction QR code. 

HIA’s SafeScan QR code isn’t new, but if COVID-19 is a reflection of how keen members are to access easy, affordable ways to meet their safety obligations, then message received. 

From its launch on 9 April, the take up was immediate and has remained strong ever since. The SafeScan code has been downloaded more than 1000 times, with almost 3000 site inductions being recorded in the first few weeks. As the SafeScan code can be used on any site and a site induction can be completed by more than one person, we are confident the actual numbers of sites using the SafeScan code is even larger.
But when it comes to safety there is more to life than COVID-19. 


Returning to a new normal

While no one can say when life on a building site will return to normal, everyone shares the hope that it will be sooner rather than later. And when it does, thinking about safety needs to remain a high priority. 

Ensuring safety is taken seriously on job sites is a part of everyday business. While responsibility for making sites safe and for working safely is often seen as the ‘bosses’ job, the reality is it falls to every individual to do their part. 

Tragically, in recent months, there have been some fatalities on low-rise residential building sites. Each situation is different but these still serve as a reminder to everybody that accidents happen. From the experienced builder to the newest apprentice, safety needs to be part of your day-to-day. 

workplace safety

The SafeScan code has been downloaded more than 1000 times, with almost 3000 site inductions being recorded

Measure twice, cut once

A building site can be a dynamic place. When work starts on a new home, the trades onsite will tend to be discrete – the concrete pourers, the bricklayers and the carpenters carry the lion’s share working at separate times. But as the home progresses to lock up and completion, the work crew increases with plasterers, painters, electricians, plumbers, tilers, cabinet makers and many more doing their part. 

In a new home, many of these jobs are not of themselves high risk work, meaning they don’t need special safety management plans and they may not need special equipment. But that doesn’t mean they are risk free. Power tools, ladders, mobile plant, leads and the like present a risk; the best safety plan is to take your time and pay attention at all times. 
Measure twice, cut once. This old building adage should ring true for safety. Check twice, do it right. 

Equally, in every home there are some jobs that will always be high risk. Working on ladders, working on scaffolding, standing on roofs, working on unfinished frames, lifting or moving heavy products with machinery around a site, cranes, excavators and concrete pumps, down to nail guns, angle grinders and their simple sharp edge blade. They all present hazards that need respect. 

HIA has a long held position that doing the paperwork needed for site safety does not by itself make a site safe. The people, the supervision, the discipline and the work ethic is what counts. 

As members begin to return to business as usual, and the numbers of people working on building sites increases, everyone needs to remember if you see something that doesn’t look right onsite, don’t just pass it by and think that’s not my responsibility – safety is a shared responsibility.

Take time, make space, slow down, stay safe – every life is precious. 


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