White Card Update: OHS Employer Obligations

According to Australian legislature, the construction industry employer is responsible for providing a safe work environment and safe system of work for employees. A healthy and safe work environment is vital not only for workers to be kept safe, but also to ensure continued productivity. Healthy workers are happy workers and this translates to profit for the company. Part of the employers responsibility, which employees can report if they are not being met are: Providing and maintaining safe plant and equipment. This includes machinery and other equipment. They must also provide a safe system of work for the operation of these plant and machinery, taking into consideration, controlling entry to high risk areas, controlling work pace and providing systems to prevent falls from heights which may occur due to work involving machinery such as cranes. Employers also have a responsibility to implement procedures for the safe use, handling, storage and transport of chemicals including dangerous goods and other harmful materials that may be required on the site. The construction employer is responsible for the maintenance of the workplace and ensuring that it is a safe condition. This includes ensuring fire exits are not blocked, emergency equipment is serviceable and the worksite is generally tidy. If these aspects are not considered it can result in fatalities in the case of an emergency. Workers and contractors must be provided with adequate facilities such as clean toilets, cool and clean drinking water and hygienic eating areas. If work is done predominantly in the sun, workers should be provided with a cool place to rest out of the direct path of the sun. Another important but sometimes overlooked responsibility of employers is making sure workers receive adequate information, instruction, training and supervision to work in a safe and healthy manner. Other duties of employers include: Regularly monitoring workers health and safety to ensure that they are not being affected by hazards on the site. For example provide blood tests for workers exposed to lead or monitoring the hearing of workers exposed to noise. This will ensure that the controls put in place are effectively working. Employers should record issues relating to their staff’s health and safety and keep this information to help with further planning etc. Ensure that all the staff you employ are in possession of a general construction safety certificate in the form of a White Card. Also certain specialised occupations should be in possession of the necessary qualifications such as asbestos removal specialists. Employers should consult workers on issues relating to their health and safety. Also any new issues that arise that may affect their health and safety can be brought to employer’s attention and dealt with accordingly.

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Most importantly provide your workers with information in the appropriate languages about your workplace health and safety arrangements. Ensure all workers are trained and give them the information necessary to escape an emergency. A general construction safety White Card will provide workers with the knowledge necessary to work safely on a construction site in Oz and the site’s controllers must ensure that workers receive site specific training as well to enable them to handle the issues that relate specifically to work on the site.

Construction White Card Australia

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