In recognition of National Safe Work Month, let’s take a look at some tips on how you can make your workplace a safer one.
October is National Safe Work Month in Australia, and the campaign couldn’t come at a more important time. As of September 26, 16 construction workers have died on worksites. In total, 116 Australians have been killed while on the job working, 10 more than during all of 2018.
State governments, and in particular the NSW government, have been targeting unsafe construction sites this year in an attempt to remind businesses of their responsibilities and bring such needless deaths to an end. But workplace safety isn’t the sole domain of employers. Every worker has a duty to ensure their place of work remains a safe one; a duty to their colleagues and to themselves.
With this in mind, let’s take a look at some important ways in which safety can be both maintained and elevated at your workplace.
• Recognise the risks. The most crucial consideration when arriving at a worksite should be the safety risks it presents. Each site is different and must be treated as such to protect worker well-being. Identify and communicate the presence of these risks so that nobody is left unaware and can get on with their job safely and efficiently.
• Don’t push your body. When moving heavy loads, it’s easy to feel overconfident about your body’s ability to bear the load. However, just because you’ve performed the task countless times before does not mean you are immune to risk. Use mechanical aids such as wheelbarrows or forklifts wherever possible. In cases where you have no choice but to lift or carry heavy loads, keep the objects close to your body and lift with your thighs in order to avoid straining your back and minimising the risk of other injuries.
• Take breaks. It’s absolutely necessary for workers to take breaks throughout the day, even if they don’t feel the need to. This is especially the case leading into the warmer months. Sitting down for a few minutes, drinking some water and allowing our minds to refocus can make all the difference between recognising a risk before it poses a threat and not seeing it until it’s too late.
• Talk it out. Physical jobs come with heightened physical risks, but that doesn’t mean mental well-being can be ignored. Mental health is a growing concern in the industry and while steps are being taken to address the issue, they will only prove successful if workers are willing to speak up. If you have any concerns, or if you feel burnout taking its toll, it’s important not to push them to the back of your mind.
• Know your rights. In any job, but especially those that come with heightened risk of physical injury or death, it is crucial that workers know their rights. If you feel a workplace is unsafe and that efforts to resolve concerns internally are failing, contact a relevant industry body. Doing so is not always easy, but remember, you’re not raising the issue just for your sake, but the sake of anyone who may be in danger.
By keeping these five points in mind as we go about our work every day, we commit to building safe and healthy workplaces for everyone. Doing so is not a benefit. It’s a necessity. Nobody should have to worry that they may get injured or worse simply by doing their job. Let’s make sure they never have to.