Health and safety should be at the core of every construction business, whether you build homes, repair drains or lay asphalt on urban roads. Australia is getting better at protecting at-risk workers in areas like road maintenance, but the 26 construction fatalities in 2015 were far too many. In fact, Australia's fatality rate for construction workers is twice that of Britain.
There have also been high-profile cases where contractors have been sued for big money, such as the Wayne Vickery case. In 2011, Vickery was struck and killed on a Canberra building site by a grader as it was reversing. His employer was found guilty of negligence and fined over AU$80,000.
Failing to protect workers from construction vehicles is a major risk for any contractors, but the dangers can be minimised with the right precautions and equipment. Here are some of the most important things contractors can do to keep their staff safe at all times.
Maintain Proper Safety Protocols
In Vickery's case, he failed to make eye contact with the driver of the grader. The driver and Vickery should have been aware of each other's location, but neither followed the company's safety procedures. Simple measures like this can be the difference between workers returning home safely and families experiencing tragic losses, so make sure that you reinforce your specific protocols regularly. Every worker needs a proper induction and refresher sessions, and safety information should always be prominently displayed.
Purchase Protective Equipment for Workers
Vehicle-related construction site fatalities can also be reduced by investing in equipment. For example, in situations where workers on foot will be mingling with heavy equipment, it makes sense to create safe zones where the two are separated. For some lightweight jobs, luminous or shock absorbing barriers may be sufficient, but when heavier vehicles are involved, truck mounted attenuators are essential. Never leave your workers exposed to accidents. Always arrange your work site in a way that keeps human bodies as far away from equipment as possible.
Ensure Vehicles are Well-Maintained
Separation is important, but keeping your construction vehicles in good shape is just as critical. Inadequate brakes can fail at any time, so stick to a regular maintenance schedule and make the changes needed when mechanics flag them up. Check the couplings between trailers and the connections on your attenuators too. In slippery conditions, attachments can easily become loose and slide into workers. Contact a company like A1 Roadlines Pty. Ltd for advice on attenuator upkeep.
Safety should be at the core of everything that construction businesses do, but there is room for improvement in Australia. However, if you maintain your equipment properly, separate workers and vehicles with devices like attenuators and barriers, and enforce your safety protocols, the risks of on-site fatalities will be far lower.