The construction industry is the backbone of Australia, and every day tradies work hard to build the roads, homes and infrastructure that keeps the country moving forward.
Yet the project-based nature of the industry means that worksites are constantly changing, and each site brings with it its own set of risks and hazards.
According to research from Safe Work Australia, trades account for 30% of Australia's workforce but represent 58% of serious claims for workers' compensation. It's important to note that not all injuries suffered on-site are necessarily life-threatening either. Even minor injuries can result in painful, costly and ongoing issues that can keep you off work and affect your personal life.
Clearly, safety is an essential tool of any trade. What can you do to stay safe on-site, minimise risk and make sure you get home safely each night?
Here's some simple strategies to make sure you stay safe and healthy on-site.
Most roles in the trade and construction industry involve some form of manual labour. Lifting, twisting and carrying are part of the day-to-day work of being a tradie, making trips, slips and falls a common hazard. Correct manual handling is essential to health and injury prevention.
When working on-site, make sure you:
Your Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) is as essential as your tools. It can save a lot of minor injuries — especially to sensitive areas like ears and eyes — while making sure you are properly covered by insurance should you be involved in a major accident. Keep your PPE gear handy and make sure you’re always wearing it on-site.
Australia's weather can be punishing, and exposure to even mild conditions can damage skin cells, putting you at greater risk of skin cancer. Skin cancers account for around 80% of all newly diagnosed cancers in Australia each year, and the outdoor nature of a tradies' job makes them especially susceptible.
Think of sunscreen, hats and long clothing as an additional form of PPE. If possible, complete certain tasks in the shade and when temperatures are forecast to be hot, try to complete your outdoor or unshaded work early in the morning or evening.
It's easy to assume that you're diligently working alone on site, or that tools are down, switched off and put away. These assumptions can lead to the greatest risk of injury. A carelessly thrown brick or tool can lead to serious injury. And you can never be too careful when using or working around another tradies' tools — never assume that they are as thoughtful with their equipment as you are.
Whenever on site, from day one right until completion, always assume that the site is live.
They say that prevention is the best cure, and this is especially true for tradies. Make sure you take regular breaks to rest and recuperate, and even try to fit in a little stretching throughout the day to ease out any aches or pains. Also stay hydrated with plenty of water, and skip the fast food for healthier options that support overall physical health and nutrition. These simple strategies can help you stay in peak mental and physical shape, potentially avoiding mishaps before they occur.
This is a guest post, produced by Employsure, Australia and New Zealand's leading Workplace Relations specialists. Employsure ensures that businesses are compliant, provides 24-hour advice, legal representation in the event of a claim and offers insurance associated with Fair Work and workplace health and safety claims.
For more information or to receive advice, please call Rachel Brus 0475 475 045.