The more often you are exposed to a risk, the less your brain perceives the significance of the risk. The level of risk has not changed. Remember how your first time on a busy worksite felt, all those things going on around you. That level of danger is still there. As you have become constantly exposed to it your mind starts to ignore things it thinks are no longer relevant so you have to consciously pay attention to the ever-changing worksite environment. This is how many of the common injuries happen, the brain switches off and you go into ‘autopilot’.
Here are some of the most common incidents:
- Hitting your body on an object – This can be anything from hitting your head on scaffolding, grazing your leg on a waratah, or catching your arm on a protruding object.
- Manual handling – Lower back strains and sprains, shoulder injuries, torn muscles, and ligaments. Muscle injuries can have lengthy healing times and can be crippling.
- Staple/nail guns – Lack of regular equipment servicing, sufficient training, and PPE can result in penetration injuries which are most common in the hands. These injuries can cause permanent damage, and nails are difficult to remove due to the heat-activated coating on the nails that causes them to bond. Staples can be difficult especially if they have hit the bone and have embedded or the staples have closed.
- Hand tools – These are the most commonly used tools such as hammers, hand saws, angle grinders, pliers etc. Tools are regularly dropped or misused.
- Slips/trips – Uneven ground surfaces, poor housekeeping, incorrect footwear, and weather conditions are common reasons for slips and trips.
Corrective actions and recommendations:
Hit body on object – corrective actions and recommendations
- Plan tasks prior to carrying them out
- Assess the surroundings and adjust work tasks accordingly
- Take time navigating around the site
- Check to see if any surfaces, sharp edges or protruding objects need to be protected or removed
- Think about what you’re doing, not what you’re going to do
Manual handling – corrective actions and recommendations
- Plan lifts prior to lifting loads, and ensure thoroughfare is clear
- Warm up/stretch before each work day and after rest periods (lunch) – especially when the weather is colder
- Use mechanical aids to assist with lifting wherever possible
- Do not lift beyond abilities. Generally, the industry uses 20kg per person, but 20kg could be too heavy, or the load too awkward. Ask other people to help.
- Adjust the work area to eliminate awkward positions and overreaching
- Consider splitting heavier loads and minimising the distance the load is carried
- Train workers in manual handling techniques
- Ensure appropriate footwear is worn
Staple/nail gun – corrective actions and recommendations
- ‘Safe hand zones’ (hands at least 150mm away from the nose when firing)
- Maintenance kept up to date – including ensuring castles/crowns are kept sharp
- Consider the trigger system setting and the experience level of the operator. Bump fire or multi shot mode have a higher risk of injury.
- Do not fire in line with another person or into knots in the timber
- Training provided by gun/staple manufacturers (train workers)
- Discuss in your toolbox meetings to remind workers of the risk
- Follow SOPs or manufacturer’s instructions
- Ensure workers who are trained have their competency assessed
- Pre-starts should be completed every day
- Task specific PPE to be worn (Gloves, boots, safety glasses, etc)
Hand Tools – corrective actions and recommendations
- Any sign of damage/wear and tear, then replace the tool (if it’s bent, don’t bend it back – replace it!)
- Take your time – ensure you have a firm grip on the tool and check your surroundings
- Use the correct tool for the job
- Think about the potential reaction once an action has been made (if you’re pulling a nog out, how hard do you have to pull/hit it, do you have a solid footing, what/who is behind you)
- Hand placement, hand placement, hand placement! Ensure your free hand is as far away from the area as possible. It may be needed to hold the item steady, but ensure it is far away from blades/hammerheads as possible
- Pre-starts to ensure that the tool is not damaged. If it is, remove it from service and either arrange for it to be repaired, or replaced
- Ensure appropriate PPE is worn (Gloves, hard hat, etc)
Slip/Trips – corrective actions and recommendations
- Slow down in adverse wear conditions – If the worksite is dangerous, consider whether it is safe to work (flooded/boggy) or to wait until it has dried
- Things such as grit tape (or similar) can help provide grip in slippery areas such as outdoor ramps
- Ensure housekeeping is maintained to remove obstacles and create clear pathways
- Wipe/dry wet flooring wherever possible (especially tiles/lino/varnished flooring)
- Plan tasks prior to carrying them out and avoid rushing
- Appropriate footwear should be worn
Of course, reach out to HazardCo and speak to one of our expert Health and Safety Advisors if you have any questions or need more support on ways to combat common incidents on-site. You can contact us on 0800 555 339.