Tradespeople are susceptible to many risks that the rest of the workforce aren’t. According to statistics compiled by Safe Work Australia, over the past 10 years more than 2800 people have been killed at work in the construction industry alone.
From transport related accidents to electrical hazards, as a trades person, you need to be more careful than most when on the job.
Thankfully the number of deaths per year has steadily declined and there is a lot that you can do to reduce the risk of accidents in an environment fraught with potential hazards. Here are some areas you can focus on to minimise the impact of some of the most common risks to tradies.
1. Keep the work area or job site tidy
Slips and trips are the most common cause of injuries at work. Conduct routine inspections of the work area to ensure there are no wires, cables, hoses or anything else that may trip you or a co-worker over.
2. Prevent falls from heights
Falls from heights are the most common cause of death for tradespeople. Take care to protect holes and leading edges with guardrails, and never work on roofs in bad weather or on sloping roofs without edge protection. Ensure you use only properly angled, well maintained ladders for a short period only and never over-reach. Always use appropriate safety harnesses and rigging when working in high areas without firm footing, such as trees or poles.
3. Use better manual handling techniques
Back injuries plague the trades. To reduce the strain on your back from handling heavy materials, use safe lifting techniques and avoid repetitive handling. Where you can, employ mechanisation such as hydraulics, forklifts or even a pulley system.
4. Improve transport safety
Transport accidents are the second most common cause of fatalities after falls from height. Use barriers and warning signs to keep people away from vehicles and take extra care when reversing. Ensure your loads are properly secured and try to avoid dangerous slopes or damaged road surfaces.
5. Gear up
Whether you’re working with electricity, hazardous chemicals or in in extreme weather, it’s important to use appropriate safety gear, including safety boots, goggles, gloves, ear protectors and reflective vests.