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Minimising your safety risk

January 28, 2019

It is essential that your safety compliance is in order to ensure the success of your business and wellbeing of Workers and Sub-Contractors.

Many Builders are working in a safe manner and managing their sites well however, without a OHS Management System, they are not documenting what’s taking place in their business and on site in line with what is required by the OHS Legislation.

All it takes is an incident or injury to occur that may expose them and their business.

Below are some ways in order to meet safety compliance and reduce the risk for your business.

Do you provide information, training and instruction?

Under the OHS Legislation, all Builders and Sub-Contractors must provide relevant information, training, instruction and supervision. This is to protect all Workers from risks to their health and safety arising from construction work.

In particular, business must ensure their Workers are trained and competent in the work activity they are undertaking.

A builder may request that evidence be provided by their Workers or Sub-Contractors that they have the appropriate qualifications, skills and training relevant to carry out their work. This evidence may include certificates of completion, certificates of competency, demonstration of competency, Safe Work Method Statements (SWMSs), Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs), permits, licences, or training registers.

Businesses must maintain records to capture all training undertaken by their Workers.

If a worker is deemed not to be competent in their particular work activity, the business must arrange for that worker to be trained accordingly and supervised until such time as they are deemed competent.

Supervisors should be aware of and provide the level of supervision necessary to ensure the health and safety of Workers, including checking Workers’ level of skills and competency to undertake the work.

Do you manage risks relating to scaffolding?

Workers assigned to scaffolding jobs should be properly trained and aware of:
  • Their environment including falling debris, electrocution from power lines, incomplete scaffold and falls related to unstable platforms which can result in serious injuries.
  • Fixed or mobile/modular scaffolds should be properly fitted with guardrails, handrails and/or kick boards (for over 2 metres) to prevent Workers and objects from falling from an unprotected edge.
  • Scaffolds and scaffold components must be capable of supporting the maximum intended load including tools and materials.

Do you manage risks relating to falls?

Everyone working on a residential construction work site must be provided with sufficient instruction, induction and training to enable them to work safely and without risking their health.
This can include:
  • Site and task induction.
  • Practically implementing the appropriate Safe Work Method Statements (SWMSs).
  • Hazards and risks associated with work performed at heights and then following health and safety procedures associated with works at heights.
  • The reasons fall protection measures have been set in place and how to use them properly.
  • Perimeter protection must be provided on the exposed edges of a solid construction including:
    • The perimeters of buildings or other leading edges for example window or door openings,
    • The perimeters of skylights or other fragile roof materials and
    • Openings in floor or roof.
  • Void protection is required where there is a potential of risk of fall through an unprotected void.
  • Edge protection will not prevent a fall through an unprotected opening. The openings must be covered and the covers must be capable of withstanding any impact and static loads, and must be fixed to prevent:
    • Any dislodgement or
    • Accidental removal and
    • Access and egress (ladder hatch).
  • Every solid construction must have safe and suitable means of access and egress.

Do you prepare, inform and review Site Specific OHS Management Plans (Safety Plans)?

Under OHS Regulations all construction projects $350,000 or greater must have a written OHS Management plan prepared by the Principal Contractor usually the Builder before work on the construction project commences.

A OHS Management Plan is a written plan that sets out the arrangements for managing various site safety management matters.

The intention of a OHS Management Plan is to ensure the required processes are in place to manage the risks associated with more complex construction projects, particularly those projects where there are many Sub-Contractors involved completing a variety of building activities.

The OHS Management Plan must be prepared by the Principal Contractor prior to the commencement of project.

It should be easily communicated and understood by Workers and Sub-Contractors working on the site.

The OHS Management Plan must contain:

  • Names of persons at the workplace and their roles in terms of safety responsibilities, for example site supervisors, project managers, first aid officers;
  • The arrangements for consultation, cooperation and coordination for Sub-Contractors;
  • The process of reporting and managing incidents on the site;
  • Site safety rules;
  • Arrangements to collect and assess, monitor and review Safe Work Method Statements (SWMS). Including the Risk Assessment and sign off process.
    Details of maintenance of a hazardous chemicals register, safety data sheets and hazardous chemicals;
  • The safe use and storage of plant;
  • The process for providing and obtaining the essential services information;
  • Site security and public safety; and
  • Ensuring Workers have appropriate trade and high risk licences and training to undertake the construction work.

The Principal Contractor must ensure that all persons who are to carry out construction work on the construction project are made aware of the contents of the OHS Management Plan in respect to their work. Sub-Contractors and Workers can request to sight the plan.

The Principal Contractor should also provide Sub-Contractors a copy of the plan with a requirement to make their Workers and Sub-Contractors aware of the contents of the plan and how they are apply to their work on site.

Do you manage Sub-Contractor Safety Compliance?

Many Sub-Contractors find it challenging to understand their requirements to meet obligations of OHS Legislation. As a consequence, they do not have the appropriate documentation to support site safety and compliance.

Below is a checklist of the requirements that will assist you in managing your Sub-Contractors safety compliance.

  • Do you have a consultation, monitoring and review safety schedule for your Sub-contractors?
  • Have you provided them with a copy of your OHS Policies, Procedures and OHS Plan?
  • Do all your Sub-Contractors hold a current General Construction Induction Card (White Card)?
  • Do you hold copies of all licences for prescribed occupations for Sub-contractors?
  • Do you have their Certificates of currency for Insurances?
  • Do all your Sub-Contractors have signed Safe Work Method Statements (SWMSs) for any High Risk Construction Work?
  • Have you reviewed and co-signed these Safe Work Method Statements?
  • Do all your Sub-Contractors complete a Risk Assessment before commencing work or if hazards change on a site?
  • Do you have a copy of their Hazardous Chemicals Register together with all relevant Safety Data Sheets (SDSs)?
  • Have they provided you with evidence of electrical testing and tagging?
  • Do you complete regular Tool Box Talks?
  • Has Plant & Equipment been regularly serviced as per manufacturer specifications?
  • Do you have the name & contact details of the person in their business that can assist with OHS related matters?

It is important that businesses identify and understand the type of risks that they are likely to encounter and then, implement a safety management system. This will ensure that you meet your compliance requirements to minimise risk, exposure and injury to people.

If you have any safety concerns or would like assistance with complying with the OHS Legislation, please contact Brett Wiles from HIA Safety Services on (03) 9280 8208.