House construction is a risky industry, more than double the rate of injuries for workers in other industries, unfortunately many resulting in permanent disability.
The most important problems needing to be fixed are:
- people falling through voids
- unsafe movement of people and materials on-site
- excessive sun exposure, and
- delays in recovery and return to work.
So in February 2014 WorkCover NSW launched the House Construction Industry Action Plan 2014–2015 (the action plan) as part of their Focus on Industry Program. This aims to:
- reduce deaths, injuries and illnesses
- reduce exposure to hazards which cause injury and disease
- eliminate/minimise high risk hazards by implementing higher level controls, and
- ensure that injured workers are protected and have sustained recovery and return to work arrangements.
Under the action plan, WorkCover NSW will:
- offer targeted rebates
- give businesses information on health, safety and returning to work after a workplace incident,
- through existing industry channels
- build awareness and capability by running industry events, field days and accredited training courses, and
- visit businesses to give onsite guidance, case management assistance and follow up.
Free house construction safety demonstration days were held in August and November 2014 with builders, construction workers, subbies, site managers and supervisors attending. These events offered free safety advice, product displays and giveaways with attendees eligible for a $500 rebate.
In September 2014 WorkCover NSW also introduced the House Construction Mentor Program. Here medium and large construction companies act as mentors to smaller builders so they can learn from others they trust. The mentors were from companies who are keen to share their knowledge and expertise with their peers to help find new ways to address safety. Over the first year of its operation, ten mentors from across NSW have taken up this role.