These workplace safety tips will keep the kit building site free of hazards, and low on risk. The term ‘Workplace Health and Safety’ is an area concerned with protecting the safety, health and welfare of people engaged in work or employment.
The goal of the building worksite is to foster a safe work environment for yourself, co-workers, family members, inspectors, suppliers and tradespeople entering the workplace environment. All of whom can injure themselves on the site. Before we get into the workplace safety tips, lets ask some questions and check the facts.
Why worry about Workplace safety?
If I got injured I stopped work, my time plan was shot, the missus was furious, I was off-site, and took time to heal. If someone else was injured...big problem. PL insurance is good to a point and most people accept responsibility for being a klutz, but some people get nasty when it’s not their fault. The fact is, people have the right to a safe workplace, end of story.
Workplace safety facts
One of the big risks on building sites is fatigue. Fatigued workers:
• react more slowly than usual
• fail to respond to things going on around them
• respond incorrectly
• show poor logic and judgement
• are unable to concentrate
• are less motivated and more forgetful
• have a greater tendency for taking risks
And facts from around the world..
Workplace safety hazard assessment
Hazard analysis or hazard assessment is a process in which individual workplace hazards are identified, assessed and controlled or eliminated as close to the source (location of the hazard) as reasonable and possible. So on a building site there are many potential hazards:
~Mechanical hazards: equipment, tools, falls, trips, entanglement and being struck by objects
~Physical hazards: noise, electricity, heat, cold and vibration
~Biological hazards: bacteria, virus, fungi and mould
~Chemical hazards: fuel, acid, particulates, fumes and fire
Kit builder workplace hazards
of the workplace hazards I encountered on my site included noise from the
generator, my hammer drill, speed saw and fibro cutter, working at height
on ladders, on framing and on roofing, working all day in the sun,
getting injured by the equipment I was using, having things fall on me
and tripping over nearly everything.
The terminology used in WHS varies, but generally speaking:
A hazard is something that can be eliminated or controlled. A risk is a combination of the probability that a particular uncontrolled hazard can cause harm and the severity of the harm involved. A Risk Assessment should identify the hazards, evaluate the risk and identify and prioritize appropriate control measures.
Definition of risk management
Policies, procedures, and practices involved in identification, analysis, assessment, control, and avoidance, minimization, or elimination of unacceptable risks.
These workplace safety tips may seem obvious, but as a site foreman or woman, you are morally and legally bound to utilise them and do your best to create a site specific safety plan. Remember, frequent hazard assessments and risk assessments will make health occupational safety a standard.
Job safety analysis
If a worker you are responsible for injures themselves on your worksite, and makes a claim for workers compensation, the insurance company will need to investigate all of your safety devices, written procedures, signage and hopefully your job safety analysis of the task that led to the injury. This will limit the premium rise the insurance company will enforce if the claim is approved.
1. Document the activity: write down the tasks that make up the activity, step by step.
2. Identify the hazards: identify what part of the task may cause injury to those doing the work or to anyone else nearby.
3. Document the control measures: for each identified hazard, list the measures that need to be put in place to eliminate or minimise any likely risk of injury to those involved.
4. Identify who is responsible: document the name of the person responsible for implementing the control measure.
5. Monitor and review: make sure the activity is supervised to ensure the documented process is being followed.
Building sites need to be safe. Catchy safety slogans; which have a ring to them, are one of the best ways to get that information across. Work slogans can change the face of the workplace, the attitude of workers and the way workers go about their work, even in minor ways.
Choose one or many of these safety quotes and make into your own signs and get them visible about the kit home workplace.
Add your safety slogans to placards, site signs, walls near machinery and tools, even to your own vehicles and trailers. With the soaring price of insurance premiums and the fact that work cover is really a 'loan' if you claim i.e. you have to pay it back through higher premiums, work slogans can be a money saver in the long term while building your kit home.
These sun safety tips will keep you alive, or at least stop part of your face falling off from the effects of the sun, while building your kit home. Teaching sun safety to our kids is relatively easy, but we struggle to apply those 'safety in the sun' principles, which we demand from them, to ourselves on site.
Sun Safety Tips
Ladder safety for owner builders is an obvious WHS issue and can minimise serious injury on your site. Less than a two metre fall can be dangerous and many serious accidents from ladders are from short falls. As ladder jobs are frequent in this game, here are a number of great tips to keep safe while getting up high.
1. Always work within arm's reach of the task
2. Always stop before the second last step of the ladder
3. Place the ladder on firm dry ground or use leveling/stabilising devices.
1. Don't walk the ladder, climb down and reposition
2. Don't use a ladder in wind and or rain
3. Don't use a ladder whilst using medication that effects balance
4. Don't allow a second person on the ladder at the same time
A constant hazard of ladder use is the feet of aluminum extension ladders slipping backward away from the wall or sinking into the earth. There are a number of 'ladder stabilizers' available that spread the weight of the ladder feet and anchor them to prevent movement.
Is there ever a level surface for a ladder? Mostly the surface will be sloped, both left to right and forward to rear.
Using a 'leveliser'- a purpose made triangular device, eliminates the need for finding the right width piece of offcut to raise the lower foot of your ladder. A modern aluminium ladder, sometimes called a safety ladder, may have slide out extensions that can be fixed to the lower level side. Other products are stand alone attachments: see pic provided.
Tasks such as painting walls, working on gutter systems, soffits, high windows etc, require a 'stand off' device so the top of the ladder doesn't sit against the wall, gutter or window. Special roof ladders or scaffold ladders have securing devices and extra bars at the top to provide safe egress and entry to the ladder at height.
Fall arresting systems
If you choose not to use a scaffold, ladder work for second storey tasks can be rather dangerous. Fall protection systems such as ladder securing safety belts, lanyards and harnesses are available to maintain safety at height.
I have touched on the basics here, but for more in depth ladder safety information and resources, download the excellent and 'free' Ladder Safety Training resource on the Complianceandsafety.com website.