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Mid-West construction campaign reveals good OSH practices

22 June, 2009

A WorkSafe inspection program of construction sites in the Mid-West has revealed generally good standards in occupational safety and health management.

Three WorkSafe inspectors conducted 69 inspections in the Mid-West area, including Geraldton and surrounding areas, Port Denison, Dongara and Kalbarri, over the week commencing June 8.

WorkSafe Director of Construction, Regional and Primary Industries, Chris Kirwin, said the inspection campaign did find some areas of concern, but the standard of safety on building sites was generally good.

“The inspectors who conducted the Mid-West campaign were quite impressed with the level of compliance with occupational safety and health laws on construction sites in the Mid-West region,” Kirwin said.

“Inspectors issued a total of 27 improvement notices, seven prohibition notices and some verbal directions in the course of the 69 inspections, and two areas of concern emerged.

“The first was edge protection to prevent falls from height on building sites, one of WorkSafe’s operational priority areas.

“Falls are one of the most significant causes of workplace death in the construction industry, and five Western Australian workers have died in less than two years as a result of falls.  A further 1260 are injured each year, many seriously and permanently.

“Falls are readily preventable and it need not be difficult or costly to ensure that suitable barriers or fall arrest systems are organised before a tragedy can occur.

“The other area of concern that emerged was the testing and tagging of electrical equipment on construction sites.

“It is crucial that portable electrical equipment on construction sites is tested regularly and tagged as being safe to operate – incidents involving electricity are often serious and sometimes fatal.”

During the inspection campaign, inspectors conducted general inspections of construction sites and also concentrated on some specific areas.

They checked that workers on construction sites had undergone the compulsory Construction Safety Awareness Training and held current and valid blue cards, and that Safe Work Method Statements were in place for high risk construction work.

“The Mid-West campaign followed a similar campaign in the Mid-West of the State a year ago that resulted in positive feedback from WorkSafe inspectors, but also found areas of concern,” Kirwin said.

“The inspectors who conducted this campaign reported that the safety standards of construction workers in the region had steadily improved over recent years.

“The program of regional inspection campaigns is all about increasing awareness of workplace safety in the regions, but inspectors do issue notices where they discover breaches of the laws.”

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