WHSQ Findings From “Control of Major Risks on Civil Construction Sites Campaign”

Workplace Health and Safety Queensland released the report for the statewide enforcement campaign, Control of major risks on civil construction sites, in October 2012.

Overall there were 590 assessments delivered by the campaign in the nine months that it ran, 362 businesses were visited by inspectors which equates to about 10-15% of the civil construction industry in Queensland.

The campaign began on the 1st October 2011 and ran till the 30th June 2012 and the primary objectives were to:

1. To enforce compliance with the relevant standards

2. To gather information about how risks are managed on civil construction sites and, in particular, on the safe work method statement (SWMS) process.

The campaign in particular looked at major risks at civil construction sites such as:

1. How workers interacted with mobile plant

2. Traffic controllers and how traffic was managed as well as fatigue and the amenities provided

3. How much construction housekeeping practices were a contributing factor to slip, trip and fall injuries

In particular the assessment tool was created to concentrate on a single high-risk construction activity inside the target areas.

An example is that assessments were conducted on different excavations and particularly looked at the traffic control arrangements being used when working on or near a public road.

The SWMS (safe work method statement) and the TMP (traffic management plan) were used as the basis of the assessment.

Using the SWMS and traffic management plan (TMP) processes as a foundation, the assessment collected information on if every part of the designated process was being effectively completed.

The goal was to understand whether or not the process was properly managing risks.

The campaign looked at all categories of civil construction equally (i.e. residential, nonresidential/commercial, roads and bridges, utilities and services), with a close focus on the interactions of workers with mobile plant over the management of traffic.

Findings from the campaign stress the significance of engaging workers in the safety management process in a meaningful way – such as with the development and communication of safety processes.

The campaign also highlighted the need for all safety documentation needs to be both straightforward and practical when it comes to how it can be communicated to workers and how it is relevant to the activity.

The key findings from the campaign included:

– The majority of the SWMS and TMP were adequate for the task when assessed by the inspectors – 92% adequately identified and evaluated risks, 91% acknowledged appropriate controls

– A total of 25% of activities failed to put the identified controls into place from the SWMS or TMP – 22% for major contractors

– The different ways of communicating the contents of the SWMS or TMP did not significantly impact the percentage of compliance

– Occasional monitoring meant that there was a significant reduction in compliance with the SWMS or TMP when compared to continuous monitoring such as with a team supervisor

– Almost a third of the SWMS and TMP had been created without any worker involvement and the remainder with some consultation with workers. Where they were developed in consultation with the workers there was a higher level of compliance

– It was reported by workers, during the assessments, that ¾ of the SWMS or TMP were appropriate for the task, approximately a third were easy to understand and only one fifth or 21% were either enforced or checked by management

– Workers under the age of 25 showed a lower level of understanding

– There was a high level of compliance with the provision of amenities and the management of fatigue for traffic controllers

To view or download the full report see the WHSQ website.

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