Every Construction workplace has its own set of hazards that risk the safety and overall health of personnel within the organisation. Some of the most common hazards across many industries according to the experts are mostly physical and mechanical by nature. Such hazards were often deemed as inevitable before especially in industries the likes of mining and construction type work. In the year 1908, 16-year-old Harry McShane was pulled into machinery in a factory in the United States and the arm of the 16-year-old boy was ripped completely off from his shoulder, and he also reportedly broke his leg.
McShane didn’t get any form of compensation from the company as WHS Legislation and Safety Tools to help workers gain awareness wasn’t anywhere near advanced as it is today. Occupational hazards are often part of the job in places specifically in places where heavy machinery is used. In other industries, workers are exposed to other types of hazards, some of which are psychosocial while others have to deal with biological and chemical dangers.
Over time however, procedures and methods that manage occupation risks have been developed and have really decreased the average rate of accidents or incidents in construction sites. Occupational health and safety per the generally-accepted definition deal mainly with aspects concerning the health and safety of workers in the workplace. The disciplines and objectives of OHS (sometimes called WHS for workplace health and safety) also focuses on how to prevent such hazards.
A good Occupational health and safety management system involves objectives such as improving the work environment to make it conducive for workers to maintain good health and for them to be physically safe while at work. WHS also involves the development of safe work methods that promote a good social climate within the workplace, usually through the form of a safe work method statement.
Specific risk factors vary across industries, in which the hazards of one sector are often different from the dangers of another. Construction workers, for example, are often at risk of mechanical hazards and at risk of falls amongst other potentially harmful risks. Being a construction worker can be a dangerous occupation for some, because the industry has comparatively higher fatalities than other industry sectors. Falls from heights, according to experts, are the most common causes of injuries among individuals who work for the construction sector.
General construction work such as doing maintenance and repairs, alterations, renovations, refurbishing, construction, conversion, and demolition can be very hazardous and bring a certain amount of danger to workers. Excavation work, for example, requires workers to exercise caution when digging a tunnel or a trench. The risk of falling into a pit or being trapped on the ground because of a collapse is high in this kind of activity. There is also a possibility for construction workers doing excavation work to experience being struck by objects. Exposure to certain contaminants in the area are also potentially common if that particular area was not studied and examined for environmental risks first before digging started.
High risk construction jobs, on the other hand, can involve any of the following: asbestos exposure, having to work with explosives, working in extreme temperatures, falls, collapses, being confined in a small space, having to deal with pressurised gas and other lines that involve chemicals, fuel, and refrigerants, and having to deal with electrical installations or services among others.
Because of the risks involved in this kind of work environment or job, a Safe Work Method Statement (SWMS) is needed for construction activities. A well thought out SWMS will help inform workers on what they should do to ensure their own safety when performing tasks for a particular project. All workers involved in the project should also have input into the Safe Work Method Statement in order to make sure that all possible risks are addressed, making it safer for all workers in the overall project work.
A work method statement document first identifies the risk, and then puts control measures in place to help address those risks in order to help maintain a predictable level of risk while undertaking the project work. The SWMS (also known as a work method statement also involves the measures that will be taken to control these risks either by eliminating or minimising them to a manageable standard. Aside from this, the document also describes how the workplace will set up these control measures.
A hazardous workplace and the various activities in construction work can cause harm to construction personnel in terms of their safety and overall health. The SWMS is not just a guide per WHS Regulations though, it is far more important for the workplace and its personnel to do their tasks in accordance with what is indicated in the SWMS and follow it accordingly.