Action Plan: What to do when there is an accident on your work site.

Whether you’re a small private contractor or a large building company, accidents on the job site are a real threat and they need to be planned for.

With 11% of all serious worker’s compensation claims in Australia coming from the construction industry burying your head in the sand is not a smart option. The major culprits being falling from heights, being struck by a vehicle, or by a falling object and accidents with machinery). Building sites are ever-changing and unpredictable, and despite safety improvements, construction requires the use of dangerous tools and equipment, and despite your best intentions and precautions, injuries are eventually going to happen.

Always hedge your bets.

All the preventative measures in the world can’t guarantee that an accident won’t take place on your work site. It’s not uncommon for businesses and private individuals alike to literally lose everything they’ve got due to unfortunate happenstance.

Buildsafe can help you here, in fact we have a specific insurance called Site Liability Insurance. But regardless of who you get it through, as a commercial entity working in the industry with unknowns such as working with subbies and the like you have to purchase an insurance policy to cover you when you can’t be present at the site. Breaking ground on a construction project without being insured is literally playing Russian roulette. Or just plain dumb, whichever gets you to sit up and pay attention.

Just like with lawyers and accountants, making a small investment up front can save you a fortune later on. Don’t risk buying your family a one-way ticket to living with your in-laws by cutting corners on insurance coverage.

An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.

Now the worst-case-scenario is all sewn up and covered (pun intended), it’s time to implement a safety protocol for your work site. And make no bones about it, every work site, from the kitchen renovation up to the total rebuild, needs one of these bad boys.

For in-depth information on how to best maintain a safe working environment for your workers, download a copy of the Work Safe Guide to Managing Safety, but here are a few pointers to help you get the basics down.

Write up a safety planEvery work site needs a designated site safety supervisor who will regularly monitor the safety checklist to ensure that safety standards are up to snuff, even when the supervisor is off-site.

Post safety rules. While it is important to hold regular safety meetings with your crew, a list of the most important rules needs to be posted and in plain view. For help putting together a great list of safety rules, consult the Work Safe website.

Train young and inexperienced workers. New hires are always a bit too eager to grab a drill or nail-gun and get straight to work. Young workers are often naive with regards to how dangerous the construction industry really is.

Provide the correct PPE. And it’s not enough to just have Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) on-site as it won’t do any good if your workers aren’t using it!

PPE is mandatory and workers who refuse to comply should be asked to leave the worksite. A worker who injures him or herself as a result of not using safety equipment, even if you’ve supplied it, has grounds to take you to court. Sounds stupid, but that’s the law, so get serious about safety, and make sure your workers do too.

Test all tools and equipment prior to starting work. Broken or poorly maintained machinery is a common cause of accidents on the work site. All power equipment should be checked for defects prior to being used for work.

According to the The Industrial Relations Act and the Occupational Health and Safety Act, employers are responsible for providing a safe workplace for employees. This includes training employees to safely handle equipment and hazardous materials. Failure to comply with the law can result in fines and other penalties for your business.

In the event of an accident, know your responsibilities and report the incident as soon as it happens.

The Work Health and Safety Act mandates that all accidents resulting in serious injury, death, or a dangerous incident must be reported to a regulator immediately.

Should the regulator require one, a written statement must be made available within 48 hours, and it is unlawful to disturb the accident site prior to the arrival of an inspector.

While it is stressful to incur an accident on your work site, don’t complicate the problem by attempting to circumvent your responsibilities.

Important: Injured workers need to seek medical attention immediately. Never, under any circumstances, encourage an injured employee or sub-contractor to forego treatment. While it may seem like a good idea to skirt what you deem to be unnecessary hospital bills, the cost of paying a doctor pales in comparison to the price of losing a workplace litigation.

Also, be aware that employers are charged with the duty of assisting employees during the rehabilitation process when they are ready to return to work. Similarly, it is illegal to terminate an employee who was legitimately injured through work.

Construction can be a dangerous game, but with proper insurance coverage and a well thought out safety scheme, you can easily mitigate the risks of accidents on your project.

Sources:

http://www.safeworkaustralia.gov.au/sites/SWA/about/Publications/Documents/430/Construction-Fact-Sheet-2011-12.pdf

http://www.safeworkaustralia.gov.au/sites/swa/whs-information/workplace-incidents-reporting/pages/workplace-incidents-reporting

http://www.worksafe.vic.gov.au/safety-and-prevention/your-industry/construction/how-to-comply/back-to-basics/site-supervision

http://www.findlaw.com.au/articles/4267/workplace-accidents-what-you-should-know-.aspx

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