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Date PostedOctober 31, 2013

Are you fulfilling your health and safety Responsibilities?

In the construction industry it is important for everyone involved with work to be aware of and understand their responsibilities and fulfil them to avoid fines and injuries.

According to Australian legislation employers and workers both share responsible in the safety of a construction site. Principal contractors, sub-contractors, permanent employees, contract workers and temps all need to understand workplace health and safety as it pertains to work on a construction site.

Construction sites present a wealth of opportunity for injury, so it is important for you as a worker to know what to do in the event of an injury in order to minimise its effect on your long term health. Because accidents are so common on construction sites, it is important to be aware of the dangers in order to avoid them.

Everyone involved with construction work needs to ask themselves the question, Am I fulfilling my health and safety responsibilities?

Employers have a responsibility to ensure workers are provided with a safe working environment and safe conditions under which to work. Identifying the hazards assessing the risks on sites as well as developing Safe Work Method Statements (SWMS) are all part of an employer/contractors duty under the law. Employers need to ensure that the appropriate control measures are put in place and workers are trained on these measures as well as all aspects of construction safety.

In addition to ensuring everyone on site is in possession of a White Card, employers must also ensure that workers are trained on site specific safety issues, such as emergency response procedures etc.

They should also provide sufficient supervision for new or inexperienced workers or for very high risk activities. Failure to provide training or supervision can result in legal and financial consequences for the business.

But the law doesn’t place all the responsibility on employers, workers also have a role to play in ensuring site safety. Workers need to operate on site in a manner that will not endanger their own lives or the safety of their co-workers. They must also abide by the training and instruction provided by their employers. Workers who endanger the lives of co-workers or the public through neglect of their duties or in contradiction of their safety training may be held liable to hefty fines and disciplinary prosecution.But perhaps the greatest penalty of all for workers is the possible injuries they may sustain, some which may be life threatening.

Safety is the responsibility of all involved in construction work and should be seen as central to construction work rather than as an inconvenience because a price can never be put on human life. Many employers make the mistake of emphasising the importance of productivity at the cost of safety, it is these employers who end up losing more because safety incidents are costly.


Peter Cutforth is a Director at Urban E-Learning, a global elearning and web strategy firm based in George St Brisbane. Peter's interests extend to training, safety and compliance, online marketing, and Mobile Apps.

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