Over the last couple of months, just in Sydney alone, there have been multiple news stories about workplace accidents. These have been extremely serious, with severe injuries and even deaths. We all like to think it will never happen to us or at our workplace, but surely the recent events show us that it easily could. Now, the causes of workplace incidents can vary, there are risks all around us, and these risks can even extend to the general public simply in the wrong place at the wrong time. So, how do we keep everyone safe on our sites? Is there anything we can learn from recent workplace accidents?
Recent Workplace Incidents in Sydney
Sydney has seen a rise in media reported workplace incidents of late. And, when workplace incidents find themselves in the papers, unfortunately, that means they’re serious. Since October 2019, we’ve seen the following reports (to name some):
- Seven Hills – a man was crushed by a falling pallet while unloading a shipping container at the warehouse. He was rushed to hospital with suspected spinal injuries.
- Marsden Park – a man fell from an excavator into a 3.5 meter hole. He was taken to hospital with serious leg injuries.
- Bladin Point – a man fell while carrying out insulation repairs on a liquified natural gas tank. He was engulfed by insulation and died due to suffocation.
- St Marys – a man became wedged in machinery at a timber pallet factory. He suffered severe head injuries and major blood loss and died at the scene.
- Point Piper – a man fell around eight meters from scaffolding. He was taken to hospital in a critical condition with head and leg injuries.
- Pyrmont – a man was hit on the head by falling steel pipes. He was taken to hospital and treated for serious head and neck injuries.
All of these incidents happened in Sydney alone, and the last three on the same day, within just three hours of each other. Can you imagine how many are taking place across the rest of Australia, or go unreported by the media? If nothing else, it highlights that workplace injury and death is a real and relevant risk to us all. So, as business leaders, what can we learn from these recent tragic incidents, and what can we do to prevent future workplace accidents?
The Aftermath of a Serious Workplace Accident
As if the initial injury, isn’t awful enough, organisations are often left reeling in the aftermath of a workplace accident. The injuries to workers can be both physical and psychological, there can be environmental damage, loss of public confidence and unhappy shareholders.
In the case of the gas tank death at Bladin Point, the construction worker was in a high-risk confined environment and was operating alone wearing an unsecured harness. In the immediate aftermath, the site was shut down, and workers were offered counselling. And now, two construction companies have been charged over the death. It looks as though the companies failed to create the necessary safe systems of work to ensure supervision onsite and have failed their health and safety duty to their workers. The case is currently with the courts, with a maximum $1.5 million penalty at stake.
A shocked community deserves a response in the aftermath of such an incident. It is vital that we all learn from what has happened, to make everyone safer and to do everything we can to avoid history repeating itself.
How Can We Prevent the Next Tragedy?
To try to prevent more tragedies from happening, we need to have effective systems for learning both within and outside of our companies. We need to build a culture that recognises and readily accepts responsibility for health and safety within the workplace. We can ask questions about the recent incidents such as whether contractors had the right licenses and were appropriately trained for the use of onsite equipment. However, we also need to look internally at our own organisations. Do we have the right process and systems in place? Are we driving the right culture of safety throughout the whole organisation?
Not every tragedy can be avoided and there will always be a level of risk. However, we can do our part to mitigate the safety risk. By engaging a contractor management solution, we can ensure that contractors meet the safety compliance requirements while being fully qualified and trained. These recent news stories show us that it only takes one mistake by one person, or a missing safety system or procedure that can lead to tragedy. Workplace health and safety is the responsibility of everyone, but as a business owner, it is up to you to engage compliant contractors, provide the appropriate training and build the right safety culture to minimise safety risk.
For over a decade, Conserve has helped organisations overcome contractor management challenges. We can help you develop a contractor management service that will be not only effective but will make your organisation safer, while minimising your overall risk. Request a demo now or visit the Conserve page for more great content.