WorkSafe: Housing construction injuries cost $17m per year

WorkSafe reports that more than 20 Victorian tradies a week were seriously injured while working on housing construction sites in 2011. These injuries cost the industry $17 million in medical costs, wages and other expenses.

According to WorkSafe Inspector, Steve Thornely, the figures could be significantly higher as sole traders do not make claims under WorkSafe’s injury insurance scheme.

“Housing sites are constantly changing with different trades on site for short periods over the life of a project. As a result, workers can face a continual and changing variety of hazards that require continual management,” said Mr Thornely.

“While not all incidents result in injury, we want to highlight the importance of workplace safety on construction sites by encouraging tradies in the domestic construction sector to take part in a competition using their smartphones.”

The competition is a new initiative for WorkSafe which aims to get tradies talking about safety and do more to look after their employees, themselves and their mates.

Teams who will sign up to the Top Tradie competition over the next six weeks will compete for weekly prizes by answering 10 sport and safety-related questions.

Prizes include footy tickets, adrenalin sports packages, and vouchers. Overall winners will get four tickets to one of Victoria’s premier motorcycle events.

Inspector Thornely said that they have addressed more than 1,250 safety breaches on housing constructions over the past year with most of the breaches resulting from inadequate planning, poor housekeeping and a lack of supervision.

“While many incidents can be easily prevented, serious injuries continue to happen on housing sites, and they often lead to work being stopped,” said Mr Thornely.

“Keeping construction site safe is everyone’s responsibility. People working in this industry must stay on top of safety issues and not be afraid to speak up if something is unsafe.”

“Safety is more than just ‘common sense’. Making people aware and getting them to talk about safety on site is the first step to improving onsite practices.”

Master Builders Association Executive Director, Brian Welch believes that safety is the most serious and most important issue on any worksite.

“Tradies who are almost invariably self-employed, must not only be aware of their own safety, but should ensure they have the correct insurances and cover in place should anything go wrong.”

“I think this initiative will help encourage tradies to talk about safety on site and raise awareness of this important issue.”

More information can be found through WorkSafe Victoria website.

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