What’s the importance of the construction industry in the Australian economy? A report by the National Industry Insights shows that this industry produces more than $360 billion in revenue that generates 9% of the country’s GDP. It’s estimated that, by 2024, the home improvement and construction industry will employ 1.28 million Australians as well. But occupational hazards have made construction and home remodeling/renovation one of the most dangerous industries in the country. According to Safe Work Australia, 17 construction workers died in 2020, and this industry was considered the second-worst for employees in the same year. So, how can employers ensure the safety of their workers? We’ve compiled some suggestions here to help constructors enhance workers’ protection:
Organize health & safety training
It’s the employer’s responsibility to prepare employees for occupational hazards associated with the construction industry. Therefore, health & safety training ensures that workers are familiar with the dangers that can befall them and strategies to prevent such accidents from occurring. Even OSHA recommends similar training sessions for construction employees. These sessions teach them about escaping dangerous situations, e.g., working at height, in confined spaces, or with heavy machinery.
Establish a safety culture
Worksite managers and home improvement contractors need to establish a culture of safety in the working environment. Prioritize workers’ health, safety, and overall well-being. Safety culture includes not just implementing the suggestions we’ll talk about now. But it also means that you must remove hazards even before they harm your workers.
There have been several instances where construction workers were diagnosed with mesothelioma – cancer caused by asbestos exposure. So, eliminate all traces of dust, mold, and asbestos. If you’re working in Southeast Queensland, look up “asbestos removal Brisbane” on the internet to get specialized help for clearing toxic substances from the premises. Similarly, run a quick local search to identify companies in your neighborhood that provide niche services to keep your worksite safe and enhance your safety culture.
Keep the first-aid kit at hand
Accidents are often unprecedented and require instant action to reduce their consequences. Thus, ensure that finding the first-aid kit isn’t difficult. Employees must know how to locate it. Ascertain that it’s visible and accessible to encounter accidents when you least expect them. Remember that “time is of the essence” when a worker gets wounded. A quick remedy can potentially save a person’s life. Hence, delegate to one employee the task of keeping the first-aid kit well-stocked for disasters.
Avoid crowded areas
Ensure that the workplace isn’t crowded to avoid unfortunate accidents. People often assemble to watch heavy machinery at work on-site for enjoyment. Caution dictates that spectators should keep their distance from these machines and must never approach them beyond the limit of safety. Moreover, healthcare guidelines during this pandemic discourage crowded workplaces to eliminate the risk of infection among workers. So, ensure people remain distant from the operating location.
Wear head protection
Ensure that construction workers have access to proper PPE (personal protection equipment) to avoid injuries/fatalities. Falling objects contribute heavily to workplace accidents. Protective devices – therefore – eliminate dangers associated with threats such as exposed wiring and low-hanging items. In areas where workers are vulnerable to falling objects, wearing “hard hats” ascertains the safety of your employees. This piece of equipment protects workers against hidden/sudden dangers on-site.
Ensure forklift safety
According to OSHA, forklifts account for 100 deaths and 95,000 injuries annually in all industries. But further injuries/fatalities can be prevented by implementing forklift safety measures. Forklifts are dangerous machines only experienced professionals must operate. These machines are also operated nearby other workers so injuries can be diminished by strict regulations. These regulations dictate how forklifts must now be modified with prior approval only.
Implement fall protection
Poor scaffolding contributes to several wounds/deaths in the home improvement industry. OSHA reports that around 2.3 million construction employees use this technique annually. It’s even dangerous when appropriately erected, and only alert workers can escape falling. So, it’s essential to inspect scaffolding for stability. Transport material carefully upwards and consider weight limits when ascending them. Also, keep framing 10 feet away from power lines to make them safer for your workers.
Display clear signs
Accidents don’t engulf construction employees only, but even bystanders are also vulnerable to such dangers on-site. It’s crucial to display clear signs of danger for both workers and onlookers. This practice will highlight the risks associated with the workplace and strongly advise people to take precautions. For instance, these signs can indicate hazards, including falling objects, chemicals in the vicinity, or heavy machinery nearby. It constitutes a cost-effective method of saving people’s lives.
Employee wellness programs
Many employers organize employee wellness programs targeted towards improving the mental and physical health of construction workers. These programs will cover workers’ dietary habits, obesity management, hypertension screening, and alcohol abuse to prevent burnout in your organization.
Moreover, employers must ensure that workers aren’t consuming junk food on-site. Focus on healthy eating/drinking with fruits and vegetables. Keep food trucks off the location and promote nutritional meals among employees.
There’s an app for everything
We’re living in a modern world where there’s a smartphone application available for anything you need! Similarly, we have digital applications for the construction industry you can install to monitor the workplace effectively. We have wearable devices that alert everyone when an accident occurs. These devices have become popular among construction employees because they minimize danger to workers. So, use these “smart” solutions to enhance the safety of home improvement workers.
What job is the most hazardous for an Australian worker? Experts have listed all occupations based on hazards associated with them, and construction – after agriculture and transport – ranks third! Some calculations show that 123 construction workers died during 2008-09 to 2012-13. These deaths were caused by falling from heights, being struck by falling objects, or getting electrocuted. This industry also accounts for 16% of workplace deaths and 11% of workplace injury claims. Investing in workers’ safety isn’t just mandatory for employers, but it is also cost-effective since every dollar spent on safety training saves you 4-6 dollars! So, do implement the safety tips we’ve mentioned in this article.