Falling from heights can cause serious injury and potentially death for workers in the construction industry. They often have to work on scaffolding, roofs and other elevated structures. For construction workers falling is a major cause of accidents and death on site.
Workers need to be vigilant when working on site and even more so when their work involves work on structures, higher than normal.
According to Australian legislature there are strict rules which need to be adhered to in the workplace regarding working from heights. In order for workers to learn these rules and others regarding safety in the construction industry, they need to complete a mandatory white card course.
The online white card course provides workers with the convenience of studying at their leisure , while familiarising workers with the rules and best practice methods on site.
A recent spate of accidents involving workers falling from heights has triggered concern in the construction industry and reaffirmed the need for workers to be trained on the white card course.
The SafetyCulture website cited a recent warning issued regarding working from heights:
A safety warning on working from heights has been issued by WorkCover NSW following four serious incidents in recent months.
John Watson, General Manager of WorkCover NSW Work Health and Safety Division said that three workers had died and one worker was seriously injured in separate incidents across the state.
“Working from heights can be dangerous and, as these incidents show, a fall can result in serious injury or death,” said Mr Watson.
“These risks are highlighted by WorkCover data that indicates 2009/10 5,745 workers were injured in a fall from heights at a cost of more than $72 million.
“Under work health and safety laws, workplaces must have safety systems in place to prevent workers falling from heights.
It is crucial that workers on construction sites know the correct procedures to follow when working from heights. The online white card process enables workers to study from the comfort of their home while gaining potentially life-saving information.
The article from SafetyCulture goes on to state:
There are specific measures that workplace safety laws require to minimise the risks of working at heights.
- Appropriate personal protective equipment should be used.
- The work area should be stable.
- Physical barriers should be in place over exposed edges.
- Safe access and walkways should be provided to all parts of your workplace.
These and all other workplace safety laws are elaborated on in the online white card course.
Once passed the course equips workers with the necessary safety knowledge and requirements on construction sites. Ensuring that workers are aware of the hazards of construction sites is a step in the right direction towards eliminating the fatalities currently occurring on worksites. These include knowledge of hazards such as those associated with working from heights.
Interestingly, in a separate article SafetyCulture stated the high number incidents involving workers slipping, tripping or falling:
Slips, trips and falls are some of the main causes of workplace accidents. In the United States, 15 percent of workplace fatalities are caused by slips, trips, and falls. About 300,000 injuries occur every year, resulting in 1,400 deaths. Slips, trips and falls account for about 15 to 20 percent of workers compensation cost.
According to Comcare, workers’ compensation claims with a date of injury in three financial years show that slips, trips and falls of a person accounted for nearly 17 percent of all accepted claims and more than 37 million in direct costs to employers during a three year period. During the same period, approximately 1 in every 266 employees in the Comcare scheme was injured as a result of a slip, trip or fall.
Although the article involved statistics of American incidents, the large number of incidents and high cost, in the form of workers compensations, affect Australian businesses and workers as well. The online white card course teaches workers the regulations and best practice methods to reduce slips, trips and falls.
Australian regulation dictates that workers on construction sites, whether domestic or commercial, are required to obtain the white card before they are able to work. Besides the obvious necessity of the white card, the knowledge gained will hopefully assist in reducing the number of falling related incidents and fatalities that occur on construction sites.
In a related article SafetyCulture noted the drive undertaken by authorities to conduct safety inspections in domestic construction sites in Victoria:
Some of the improvement notices issued with regard to:
- internal housekeeping, safe access to toilets, and switchboards
- external housekeeping debris in public areas
- site security to prevent public access
- electrical testing and tagging
- safe work method statements
- no construction induction (CI) cards.
“‘What we find is employers and tradespeople consistently fail to properly address the basic safety issues like fall protection, electrical safety, housekeeping, site security and supervision.
‘Each notice represents a breach of the OHS legislation. Employers who breach the legislation are increasing the risk of injury to workers. These employers are potentially liable to prosecution even in circumstances that do not lead directly to someone being hurt.’” (Quoting WorkSafe’s acting Director of Construction and Utilities, Allan Beacom)
As evident by the inspections carried out, basic safety issues are not being addressed. The construction induction cards or white card, are being ignored. The consequences of not obtaining the white card are serious and in the worst case scenario include injury and death. The online white card provides the construction worker with all the necessary information regarding these basic safety issues. It is not just a matter of policy, but safety too.