When in Doubt, DON’T!

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-By David Côté

In any workplace your safety and the safety of others will always, ultimately, depend on you. A worker may believe he can work safely amidst hazards he has created while persistently notifying other workers in the area of those hazards, but he should carefully consider his surroundings beforehand. In the life of a project there will constantly be different types of tradies coming in and out for short periods of time, creating any number of hazards while they work in an environment that is completely new to them; it is simply unrealistic that one can avoid his own hazards while also keeping watch on everyone else that may stumble upon them.

According to a new Workplace Safety Victoria media release, in the year 2011 these workplace hazards resulted in an average of 20 Victorian tradies being injured each week. This very high number of incidents came at a hefty cost of $17 million dollars in medical costs, lost wages and other expenses. Even though it is impossible to inspect every housing construction site in Victoria, among those that were inspected in 2011 there were more than 1,250 safety breaches. The causes of these incidents include but are not limited to inadequate planning, poor housekeeping and a lack of managerial supervision.

This number is very disappointing considering that all of the breaches that can cause serious or fatal injury can be prevented with some effort. It only takes 30 seconds to pick up an unused extension cord, wrap it up and put it where it belongs but it could take months to recover from a trip and fall incident. It also provides further disappointment when we find out that even though they are so easily preventable, the incidents that result in injury continue to happen every single day. As a result, self-employed tradies should make sure they have the proper insurance and coverage if anything does go wrong as a result of a workplace safety breach.

Even the simple phrase, “It’s not my problem” can have disastrous consequences when considering the nature of the work that is being done. Just because a single worker has become aware of a hazard does not mean the next worker will. In some situations it might be a bit of a pain to clean up after someone who has gone on lunch but it might just pay off when considering the lives and families of everyone who is at risk on the job site. Good housekeeping that sometimes might include cleaning up after workmates may inevitably be the cause of workplace tension, but it’s nothing considering what could have happened! While getting the job done properly for the employer and getting paid at the end of the day is a very important goal, we must remember that some workers could instead end up in the hospital or worse if we don’t also make safety a very big part of reaching that goal.

Australian law states that employers must involve and inform their workers by talking to them about important health and safety issues that may affect them in any way while they are on the job. This means sharing important information, engaging with employees, getting individual opinions and taking them into account. This can be done by setting up a health and safety committee or by simply holding regular meetings. These meetings should be aimed at trying to keep workers on their toes and thinking about safety by identifying and reminding even the most experienced employees of what can go wrong within their workplace environment and what to do when these accidents may happen. By keeping a worker on their toes you may also guard against complacency that will always lead to accidents.

“When in doubt, DON’T!” is a good principle for workplace safety. Don’t lift a heavy object if you might strain your body or risk falling without a proper fall arrest system in place. The proper questions should always be asked when a situation arises that causes doubt. After all, workplace safety is largely based upon common sense and every individual will have certain doubts along the way. Workers should know who to go to and be openly encouraged to ask these questions.

To combat the issue of workplace accidents, Work Safe Victoria, the Housing Industry Association (HIA),the Master Builders Association of Victoria (MBAV) and the Victorian Volume Home Builders Safety Alliance have all come together to offer The Top Tradie Quiz. This is a competition in which eligible tradies must answer ten questions on workplace safety per week in order to win weekly prizes and other grand prizes. This competition launched on Monday 21st May 2012 at 12:00am and will continue with one prize a week until it ends on Sunday 1st July 2012 with a grand prize of four tickets to one of Victoria’s premier motorcycle events on Philip Island, two nights’ accommodation in four single rooms at the Mercure Welcome Hotel and return transfers each day. On top of that the grand prize winner will get four tickets to the Australian Motorcycle Expo in November 2012, a chance to meet and greet the Editor of Australian Motorcycle News, and will also walk away with some Australian Motorcycle News swag. For more information on prizes, eligibility and to register for The Top Tradie Qui,z please visit www.toptradie.com.au.

Home Automation

Call it ‘domotics,’ and you are likely to receive a blank stare, but refer to it as ‘smart home’ or ‘home automation,’ and you will get a nod of acknowledgement. For the past few years, consumers have heard the word ‘smart’ attached to countless products and services, from food and drink to snacks like popcorn and mobile phones, which no one seems to refer to as a ‘cellphone’ anymore. Yet what, exactly, constitutes ‘smart’?

January 21, 2021, 10:37 PM AEDT