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Date PostedNovember 4, 2013

White Card Update: Accepting Responsibility for Construction Accidents

When it comes to construction accidents usually no one wants to accept responsibility, whether it be the worker involved, supervisor, manager or even employer to blame. But what does the law say? According to Australian legislation both employers and workers hold responsibility for construction site incidents and also both have duties in terms of ensuring a safe site.

Most of the responsibility for construction site safety does lie with the employer, however the worker is not completely blameless. Workers must operate on site in a manner that will not endanger their own lives or the safety of their co-workers so far as is reasonably practicable. 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.The worst punishment though that workers may sustain is the risk of serious injuries and even death, which should be the greatest motivation to ensure they abide by safety measures.

Employers have a responsibility to ensure workers are provided with a safe working environment and safe conditions under which to work. When employers fail in this regard, accidents occur.

Assessing the risks on sites as well as developing Safe Work Method Statements (SWMS) are all part of an employer/contractors responsibility under the law.

Employers must also provide workers with training for them to operate safely on the site, including how to operate with risks specific to the site and emergency procedures.

Employers need to ensure that workers have completed general construction safety induction training as well as site specific training before being allowed to work on a site.

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.

Ultimately site safety is everyone’s responsibility and no one entity solely responsible for ensuring site safety.



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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