Workplace incidents are costly, eating into the funds of both employer and employee, severely impacting productivity and thoroughlying disrupt on-the-job efficiency.
While this is hardly news, when the numbers are stacked up it is possible to really see the dramatic impact workplace incidents are having on the industry’s hip pocket.
The housing construction sector alone last year was hit by $17 million in medical bills, lost wages and further expenses resulting from more than 1,000 on the job accidents.
According to WorkSafe Australia, even that is a conservative estimate.
“Housing sites are constantly changing with different trades on site for short periods over the life of a project,” says WorkSafe inspector Steve Thornely. “As a result workers can face a continual and changing variety of hazards that require continual management.”
Thornely explains that more than 1,250 safety breaches on housing sites have been found over the past year, which he attributes to poor planning, housekeeping and supervision.
“While many incidents can be easily prevented, serious injuries continue to happen on housing sites, and they often lead to work being stopped,” says Thornely “Keeping a construction site safe is everyone’s responsibility. People working in this industry must stay on top of safety issues and not be afraid to speak up if something is unsafe.”
In light of the easy-to-prevent nature of the issues, WorkSafe has released a campaign known as the ‘Top Tradie’ competition, a competition that workers undertake using their smart phones. The competition was designed in order to test the safety knowledge of workers, with those who are well-informed rewarded with prizes.
“While not all incidents result in injury, we want to highlight the importance of workplace safety on construction sites by encouraging tradies in the domestic construction sector to take part in a competition using their smartphones,” says Thornely.
While the game is a lighthearted way to get construction workers discussing health and safety, Master Builders Association of Victoria executive director Brian Welch stresses the seriousness of workplace OH&S.
“Tradies, who are almost invariably self-employed, must not only be aware of their own safety, but should ensure they have the correct insurances and cover in place should anything go wrong,” says Welch. “I think this initiative will help encourage tradies to talk about safety on site and raise the awareness of this important issue.”
As with all initiatives, only time will tell if safety will finally take a higher precedence in the minds of workers.