2018 saw a vast improvement in terms of work related fatalities compared to previous years. In fact, the total number of 37 was the lowest number recorded since records were established 30 years ago.
There was a 23% decline in workplace fatalities from 2017, when 48 people were killed within the workplace. Construction was the second most fatal sector after farming, with 5 deaths in 2018. So what are the main dangers and causes of workplace accidents and fatalities within this sector?
Exposed Edges And Fragile Surfaces
Many accidents are due to open edges and fragile surfaces, which ultimately end up with falls from height. Safety at height can often be overlooked by companies who only need their workers to access the roof surface occasionally for routine maintenance. This can be a serious mistake as it only takes a split second (or one simple error) to have a serious accident.
The necessary safety controls should be in place at all times, even for infrequent works. These will help to mitigate risks and ensure that the worker is best protected.
Creating A Safety Culture
Having rules and regulations in place is one thing, but having workers obey these rules and take the necessary precautions at all times can be a more difficult task. Creating a safety culture is important and can be done with the help of regular training, monitoring and tool box talks. Having the correct safety systems in place, along with this safety culture, should ensure that workers are kept safe at all times.
Roof Safety Systems
A guardrail system is always preferred to a cable system as it provides collective protection and doesn’t require PPE or rescue plans. This is not always possible however as sometimes there either isn’t room for a guardrail system or the property owner may not want it to be visible.
Roof cable systems are more restrictive than guardrail and also require the use of PPE along with training. In the case of fall arrest, a rescue plan must be in place to quickly rescue the victim and bring them to safety. Fall restraint is a better option, but again is not always possible due to surface constraints.
Work Safety In 2019 And Beyond
Workers can often think that nothing bad will happen to them because nothing has happened to them previously, leading to complacency. Sadly, luck can run out for everyone eventually and they may take that one risk too many. The hope in 2019 is that these risks will not be taken. Combining this with the safety systems mentioned above, hopefully we can continue the improved figures for accidents and fatalities.