In light of the recent tragic incidents that have occurred on construction sites across Australia, issues surrounding safety in the industry have come to the forefront. Construction sites, by nature, are quite hazardous as they often involve heavy lifting, manual labour, the use of tools and heavy machinery, presence of debris, and so on. This means that safety must be a top priority and all relevant parties must stay vigilant to ensure that everyone gets home safely at the end of the day. Employers bear the bulk of the responsibility, as they have a duty of care over workers, and must do what is reasonably practicable to eliminate or reduce harm.

According to Safe Work Australia’s Australian Workers’ Compensation Statistics 2015-2016, the building and construction industry accounts for 12% of all serious claims made in Australia, making it only second to the health care and social assistance industry, which accounts for 15% of serious claims. The relatively high rate of claims in the construction sector indicates that more can still be done to ensure safety whilst on site.

A prominent initiative that spawned from this safety need, is SafeWork NSW’s Building and Work Health and Safety Sector Plan to 2022.

The purpose of this new initiative is to eliminate workplace deaths, serious injuries and illnesses in the NSW building and construction industry.
The plan will focus on the leading causes of traumatic injuries and fatalities in the building and construction industry, which are:
- Falls from heights
- Contact with electricity
- Plant (both mobile and fixed)
- Falling Objects

Under this Safety Sector Plan, by 2022, NSW aims to:
- Reduce fatalities by 20%
- Reduce serious injuries and illnesses that result in one or more weeks of work by 30%
- Reduce musculoskeletal injuries and illnesses by 30%

To achieve the goals of the Building and Work Health and Safety Sector Plan to 2022, Safe Work will collaborate with peak industry bodies, unions, association and other government agencies. These strategic partnerships will be mobilised to make these safety initiatives a reality for construction workers. Tailored approaches addressing the previously outlined key harms will be necessary to effectively minimising them.

One of the main strategies that will be implemented under the Building and Work Health and Safety Sector Plan to 2022, is to improve the integrity of the training and assessment required to hold a High Risk Work (HRW) licence. This will help to ensure the safety of workers, as they will be equipped with the necessary knowledge and skills to effectively reduce the risks associated with operating equipment, and provide the industry and the community with greater confidence that only qualified personnel are authorised to execute high risk work.

HRW licences are required when working with:
- Cranes
- Dogging, Rigging and Scaffolding
- Forklifts
- Hoists
- Pressure Equipment
- Reach Stackers

Safe Work NSW’s 6 year safety strategy is building towards Zero Harm on Building and Construction sites. Although the ultimate goal may seem lofty, the desired outcomes of this strategy are tangible. These outcomes include embedding the ‘health and safety landscape’ throughout sites in NSW, significantly minimising accidents and injuries caused by high impact harms, and building better services to manage health and safety.
The holistic approach that is being taken will help to tackle the issue at its roots, rather than merely being reactive and addressing the symptoms.
Safe Work NSW has taken positive steps to promote greater safety in the building and construction industry, and has already made significant progress towards achieving the aims of the Building and Work Health and Safety Sector Plan to 2022.
To find out more about the plan, click here.

At Workfast Labour Hire, safety is the main priority. We are dedicated to ensuring the safety of all our employees, co-workers and clients in all environments. Workfast Labour Hire is certified to international standards 4801, and is compliant with all Australian state and territory workplace health and safety acts and regulations. For more information surrounding Workfast Labour Hire’s Zero Harm Policy, click here.