More than 20 tradespeople were seriously injured on housing construction sites each week last year, costing the industry $17 million in medical, wage and other expenses, according to WorkSafe Victoria.
Worse, WorkSafe Inspector Steve Thornely says, the figures could easily be significantly higher as sole traders do not make claims under WorkSafe’s injury insurance scheme.
“Housing sites are constantly changing with different trades on site for short periods over the life of a project,” he says. “As a result workers can face a continual and changing variety of hazards that require continual management.”
Thornely says many of these incidents have been avoidable. He notes that many of the 1,250 safety breaches workplace inspectors addressed last year were the result of inadequate planning, poor housekeeping and a lack of supervision.
The latest news comes as WorkSafe announces a new competition designed to get tradespeople talking about safety and do more to look after themselves, their workers and their mates.
Over the next six weeks, teams which sign up to the Top Tradie competition will compete for weekly prizes by answering 10 sport and safety-related questions each week. The prizes include adrenalin sports packages, footy tickets and vouchers with the overall winning team getting four tickets to one of Victoria’s premier motorcycle events.
Thornely says the new initiative is a fun way to get employers and workers talking about safety.
“Keeping a construction site safe is everyone’s responsibility,” he says. “People working in this industry must stay on top of safety issues and not be afraid to speak up if something is unsafe. Safety is more than just ‘common sense’. Making people aware and getting them to talk about safety on site is the first step to improving onsite practices.”
Brian Welch, Executive Director of the Master Builders Association of Victoria feels the new competition is an innovative way to promote the most serious and important issue on any construction worksite.
“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,” he says. “I think this initiative will help encourage tradies to talk about safety on site and raise the awareness of this important issue.”