10 steps to an effective site induction

A busy construction site can present safety hazards for even the most seasoned workers. For someone unfamiliar with the work site the risks are multiplied, and simply ‘showing them the ropes’ isn’t always enough to avoid tragedy.

SafeWork NSW’s state inspector for the construction industry, Tracey Cook, says that by conducting a site safety induction you not only ensure that everyone can do their work safely while maximising site productivity, you also tick regulatory boxes.

“Before any work starts, you should set the rules, have facilities in place and, importantly, establish how health and safety is to be managed at that site,” Ms Cook said.

Here are Tracey’s suggestions for an effective site induction:

  1. Keep it simple. Explain that everyone must ensure work is done as safely as possible and that each worker should not put themselves or others at risk.
  2. Cover typical hazards such as working at height, overhead power lines, moving plant, confined work spaces, restricted areas, fire risks and site security. Distribute any safety documents and outline arrangements for supervision and reporting risks and incidents.
  3. Brief workers about the provision of first aid and emergency procedures and introduce key safety personnel.
  4. Describe the location and use of workplace facilities and amenities, as well as site access and exit points and any security procedures.
  5. Discuss the site’s history, current stage, schedule, number of workers and contractors and project completion date.
  6. Explain how to sign in and out of the site so it is known who is present and everyone can be accounted for in an emergency.
  7. Describe potential site evacuation scenarios, what the alarm sounds like, how to activate it, exit routes and roll call locations. Workers should know how to use fire fighting equipment but only to tackle small fires.
  8. Good housekeeping and where to dispose of rubbish is also worthwhile as many construction site incidents are triggered by slip, trip and fall hazards.
  9. Check that a new worker such as a forklift driver or crane operator has an appropriate high-risk work licence, including a valid expiry date.
  10. Other topics include safety signage, turning up for work in a fit state and the site drug and alcohol policy, as well as proper use and care of personal protective equipment.

Remember that some workers may require more specific training to undertake a particular task or role safely.

Get more information about safety in the construction and house construction industries on the SafeWork NSW website, or call 13 10 50.

Safer steps to unpacking shipping containers

In the last five years alone SafeWork NSW has investigated 21 incidents involving workers unpacking shipping containers. Many of these workers received serious injuries – three were killed.

A new instructional video has been developed to help workers perform this routine job with minimal risk.

Part of SafeWork NSW’s set of video safety alerts, the short video outlines simple steps to keep you and your workers safe, including working with suppliers so that loads are packed correctly, planning your work and using the right equipment.

View the clip below or visit the SafeWork NSW YouTube channel for more safety alerts.

Work near overhead power lines: the basics

Whether it’s a mobile crane unloading a truck, a tipper truck being raised, a ladder, scaffold tube or jet of water, the outcome of contact with an overhead power line can be serious; often fatal.

In fact, contact between mobile plant and equipment with live overhead power lines is one of the biggest workplace killers – but many of these incidents have the same underlying causes:

  • operators failing to see the power lines (or realising the danger)
  • not maintaining a safe approach distance.

What is the risk?

Any voltage that causes sufficient current to pass through the heart – such as that found in live overhead power lines – can cause serious injury or death.

The discharge of electrical energy from contact with power lines can also cause serious burns, fires and explosions that can immobilise the equipment involved.

You don’t even have to have direct contact with a high voltage line to receive a fatal electric shock. Electricity can arc or jump across gaps, meaning that simply being too close can kill.

Even if a worker survives a close encounter with high voltage, their injuries can require intensive medical care and may render them out of action indefinitely.

What is the impact on your business?

The effects on the injured worker and their family are obvious, but a simple lapse in concentration can also have a significant impact on your workplace. Lost time, a workers’ compensation claim, not to mention finding and retraining a replacement can all add extra burden to your business.

How can you avoid these incidents?

  • Your safest option is to relocate work away from overhead power lines wherever possible.
  • If it’s a short-term task, arrange with the electricity supply authority to have the power isolated.
  • For long term jobs, consult the electricity supply authority. They would assess the site and advise of appropriate controls that you should adhere to.

If you can’t avoid working near overhead power lines you need to properly assess and control the risks. This will at least give you peace of mind to be able to focus on running your business.

Attention to detail is critical – potentially a matter of life or death – so please refer to our Work near overhead power lines: Code of practice, or call 13 10 50.

Failure not an option in Jennifer’s return to work

It was an ordinary Wednesday at the UnitingCare Ageing facility when Jennifer Saben suffered a debilitating injury. As some were lim bering up for activities, the popular resident recreational officer lay helpless, reaching for her mobile phone to call for help.

“Not only did I lose my independence, but also my dignity,” said Jennifer.

She describes her accident as ‘challenging’ while she recalls suffering physical and psychological, continual and significant pain.

The single mother was found with two broken wrists and elbows after walking down an external corridor where she tripped and fell. The remarkable part of Jennifer’s story is not the calibre of her injuries, but her strength and determination to recover.

A deserving recipient of the Return to work achievement award for workers at the 2015 SafeWork NSW Awards, Jennifer attributes the fast recovery to her supportive family, colleagues, supervisors and residents.

Jennifer went from being an active and independent spirit to requiring the help of at least two people to sit up if she slid down in her bed. Having small mountains like this to climb every day paints a picture of how far off returning to work may seem – but not for Jennifer.

For the first eight weeks Jennifer was unable to use her arms and needed help with every aspect of her life, from eating and drinking to washing her hair.

Day by day, Jennifer was determined to maintain a positive attitude and to focus on what she could do rather than what she couldn’t. After all, her family and her residents needed her – so she pushed on one step at a time.

As is usually the case, her workplace was the most beneficial and productive place for her to be.

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Those recovering from an injury can face challenges when returning to work, but the benefit of work outweighs the negatives. Jennifer speaks of the psychological effects of her incident and today still struggles to return to the corridor where it took place. Regardless, she describes the sense of accomplishment she found from recovering at work and regaining her capabilities.

“I surrounded myself with positivity and knew that being at work was the most important thing for my recovery. I was able to be with people again.

“Being in the company of friends and colleagues, as well as residents, gave me the motivation to keep going. I felt needed, missed and wanted,” she said.

The title of Jennifer’s SafeWork Awards entry was ‘Failure was no option’. In many ways, returning to everyday life and picking up where you left off is an extraordinary achievement.

The SafeWork Awards judging panel admired Jennifer’s strength and determination through a traumatic time. She has made an amazing recovery to return to her pre-injury duties, and is now undertaking all aspects of her role.

We know that courage is within all of us, with many of your stories of perseverance deserving the same accolades – stories that are worth sharing. If you have a story like Jennifer’s, why not enter the 2016 SafeWork Awards? Entries in the 2016 Awards are opening soon so register for updates and you’ll be notified when you can get involved.

SafeWork NSW has a number of programs to help get your workers back on the job – click here to get started.