WorkSafe Inspector Tony Cockrell shares what he looks for when he goes onto a construction site.
Construction is an environment where things change quickly. Within a couple of hours a site can have a completely new set of hazards that have to be managed. Often builders have to control the risks from numerous hazards, all at the same time. This might include scaffolds being erected, a crane in operation, a concrete pour and construction materials being delivered.
Not only do builders need to manage these hazards, they often have to deal with a complete change in their workforce from one day to the next.
When I arrive on site I try and contact the site supervisor and the OHS rep, if there is one. I make enquires about how the builder or subbie is providing and maintaining a safe workplace.
I ask for the legally required safety documentation, like a health and safety coordination plan and safe work method statements (SWMS). I discuss with the builder how they’re managing site inductions, housekeeping and effective supervision of sub-contractors.
I also do a safety walk and look at how hazards are actually being controlled. It’s especially important to look at any high risk construction work to see if the SWMS are adequate and being followed. A couple of areas I pay particular attention to are public protection, electrical safety, work at heights, the operation of powered mobile plant and any scaffolds that are onsite.
I also check that workers have construction induction cards and that the onsite amenities are adequate for the number of people onsite.
If I drive by a site and the basic safety issues are not addressed, it’s usually a fair indicator that there are more serious safety failings onsite.
If you’re looking for some assistance on managing safety, your industry associations are a good place to seek information.
Watch a three-minute video with WorkSafe Inspector Noel Shell, as he chats about what he looks for at a workplace. This was filmed as part of our roving information sessions.