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Common Sensei aims to improve knowledge, awareness and ownership of workplace risks to the Gen Y and Gen Z demographics.
Many injuries occur because workers are young and still in a critical developmental period. Since they’re new to work, they don’t have the insights of experience. Many are ‘green and raw’ – they’re scared to come out of their shell – and many are still trying to work out who they are and want to prove themselves.
‘There are many factors that go into making a worksite safe, including robust safety systems, but at its core, site safety starts with thinking for yourself and speaking up if something doesn’t feel right,’ says HIA’s David Bare. As The Common Sensei campaign offers apprentices essential information, it provides critical safety conversations with site supervisors. While the campaign is based in NSW, it may be extended to other states in the future.
During the recent survey, another young apprentice revealed why common sense is the key to working safely and efficiently in this industry. ‘Onsite, you’re wrapped in safety bubble wrap. You could have every safety protocol in place but if you don’t have common sense, it doesn’t make a difference.’
Spread the word to young workers and apprentices in construction. Follow @commonsensei_au on Instagram or visit www.commonsensei.com.au
An RMIT University review by Construction Work Health and Safety Research @ RMIT, Lingard & Zhang (2019), The impact of supervisors’ and site managers’ behaviour on work health and safety in the construction industry, attributed workplace injuries among young workers to a range of individual developmental and organisational environmental factors, including:
1. Inexperience and lack of familiarity with work tasks
2. Reluctance to voice WHS concerns
3. High job demands or poor work conditions
4. Lack of control over work conditions
5. Poor safety norms and culture in the workplace
6. Inadequate supervision
7. Insufficient learning opportunities
8. Poor workplace psychosocial environment.
At the recent HIA/icare NSW survey, young workers and apprentices in NSW reveal some of their confronting experiences in the industry.
• ‘Some sites you might not be able to make as safe as others. I was on a civil site, digging a trench and exposed live power mains that the surveyors didn’t pick up (no incidents – luckily the wire that was exposed was a dead one). I’m as much to blame as anyone – I should have cross-checked everything.’
• ‘Everyone cuts corners – if they tell you they don’t, they’re lying. There are calculated risks but some are more dangerous than others.’
• ‘The boss on my first site was always pressuring us to rush.’
• ‘Apprentices have an enthusiasm and desire to prove themselves.’
• ‘I saw someone trip and it was a wake-up call to me. It’s just bits of wood on the floor, but ‘they’ don’t think about the repercussions – don’t see it as a hazard.’
The people within HIA most responsible for apprentice care and support have shortlisted types of injuries with associated causes of injury as follows:
• Lacerations (from the use of non-powered hand tools such as saws, knives, metal bracing)
• Puncture wounds (primarily from the use of nail guns)
• Sprains and strains (presumably from muscular stress or ‘body stressing’)
• Falls from a height
• Trips and slips the result of environmental agencies.