Border inspections targeting unsafe construction work

Builders across the Albury and Wodonga region are being urged to review safety on construction sites ahead of planned WorkSafe and WorkCover inspections in June.
News article published

Monday 18 May 2015

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  • Construction
  • Fall prevention
  • Health and safety representatives
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Inspectors from WorkSafe Victoria and WorkCover NSW will again join forces as part of the Cross Border project, aimed at educating local builders, contractors and workers about construction safety requirements on each side of the border.

WorkCover NSW Assistant Director Response and Regional Operations, Rick Bultitude, said it was critical that construction workers were on the same page regarding risks and controls, regardless of which side of the border they are working on.

“Each state has the same or similar requirements for high-risk work licenses and plant operator competencies, and accepts the other state’s safe work method statement and management plans,” Mr Bultitude said.

“This project is about preventing harm in the workplace so that workers return home safely at the end of their working day.”

More than 100 construction workers based in the Wodonga region have been injured seriously enough since July 2009 to make a workers compensation claim. Wounds and amputations account for around 30 per of these injuries, while soft-tissue injuries make up around 25 per cent of all claims.

Young workers, those aged between 15 and 24 years old, account for more than 28 per cent of all injuries across the construction industry in Wodonga since 2009-10.

WorkSafe’s Regional Operations Manager, Brooke Grey, said the campaign had so far highlighted it was basic safety hazards that were most commonly overlooked on sites.

“Inspectors are routinely finding high risk construction work being undertaken without appropriate safety controls in place to protect workers and the public, such as tradies working on roofs without fall protection. Inspectors have also come across work being done on or near roads without traffic management in place,” Ms Grey said.

Ms Grey said other common issues such as failing to develop a Safe Work Method Statement (SWMS) for high-risk work and poor housekeeping would also be a focus for inspectors.

“A SWMS must be prepared for all high-risk construction work. This includes not only outlining the work that needs to be done and the potential risks involved, but identifying how the risks will be controlled.”

Ms Grey said the construction industry traditionally employed a number of young workers and apprentices, and employers needed to take these workers under their wing.

“Young workers and apprentices can be at risk of injury because of their lack of experience. Employers must ensure young workers are adequately trained and supervised, allowing them to undertake their work safely. Young workers should also be encouraged to speak up about health and safety concerns at work.”

As well as assessing businesses’ compliance with health and safety obligations, the Cross Border campaign aims to equip employers with the right tools and information to navigate the return to work process and ensure injured workers are supported back to work.

The Cross Border project began in June 2013 and has so far helped more than 280 businesses understand and improve the health and safety of their workplaces.

Cross Border Albury/Wodonga will take place from 1-5 June. To learn more about the campaign, builders, contractors and workers are encouraged to attend a free trade information breakfast on 22 May at Dahlsens Albury from 7.30am.

In order to prepare for a workplace visit, pick up an inspection checklist from local major hardware stores.