RMIT Melbourne University has conducted an ‘International Benchmarking Study’ to improve operational health and safety within the construction industry and determine how seriously health and safety is being taken currently by firms and contractors.
SafeWork Australia’s alarming findings on the prevalence of workplace injuries and deaths within the construction industry over the 5 years from 2007/2008 to 2011/2012 doesn’t bode well for the industry’s reputation and has in part, sparked RMIT to take a closer look at what’s going on.
SafeWork found 211 construction workers died in this 5 year time period from 2007/08 to 2011/12.
The construction industry accounted for 11% of critical worker’s compensation claims across all business sectors.
39 claims on average, each day necessitated the injured worker take 1 or more weeks off work.
When construction contractors and specialist subcontractors were retained as key decision-makers before construction work commenced, more effective upper level control measures were implemented than when they are locked out of decision-making.
RMIT Melbourne University concluded what is seemingly obvious to a lay-person, yet what can sometimes be difficult to put into practice for businesses (due to so many variables in play such as a complicated and disjointed supply chains made up of different firms & sub-contractors, many of whom are using differing delivery mechanisms, coupled with each only having limited information available in the early stages).
RMIT found that construction workplaces are safer when they involve people with the necessary knowledge & experience from the get-go, as well as taking the safety of workers into consideration from the early stages of construction planning straight through to the end of construction, keeping their safety at the forefront of priorities and decision-making.
RMIT believes health and safety needs to be taken more seriously by the construction sector in Australia. They acknowledge there will be a cost factor involved within current market structures if the welfare of employees and contractors is to be improved, but believe this extra cost is necessary to provide a safe work environment. RMIT also calls for clients of the industry to re-evaluate the importance they place on workers safety into the future.