Choose Wisely

Choosing the right tool for the job sounds simple, but is it? Charlotte Bull reports One-third of all construction worker injuries involve the use of ‘everyday’ tools, according to WorkSafe Victoria’s Construction Director, Allan Beacom. To address the issue, WorkSafe has been carrying out a six-month campaign focused on encouraging workers in the construction industry to make sure the tools they’re using are fit for purpose. During that time, inspectors have been out on construction sites talking about why maintaining tools and using the right tool is so important.

“The reason behind this campaign is that ladders, scaffolds, nail guns, saws and grinders feature all too often in injury claim reports,” Beacom said. “As a result, WorkSafe sees tradies off work for about a month on average with nasty yet preventable injuries like serious cuts, broken bones, and sprains and strains. Tradies, subbies and builders need to think about the tools and equipment they need to do a job safely.” Beacom said that the campaign encouraged workers to take a few minutes to work out the best way to complete a job safely before starting the job. “There’s no excuse to take shortcuts with the gear you use. You know your job and you know what tools you need to do it well, so take some time to make sure you’ve got the right gear on hand before you get on site. “For example, if you’re building a timber deck you should be taking a step back and asking yourself what tools the job requires, whether you’ve got those tools, and if they’re in good nick and are appropriately guarded. Planning should include ensuring that saw benches are available. Cutting at the right height rather than on the ground reduces the risk of muscle and bone injuries – the most common type of injury reported to WorkSafe.

“You also need to consider whether your power leads are tagged, tested and in good condition, and if you’ve got the appropriate PPE. This assessment should be carried out before the job gets underway, and a job shouldn’t start until the right tools and equipment are on-hand.” WorkSafe has published a checklist to help employers and workers understand what health and safety inspectors are looking at when they visit your site. “The purpose of providing checklists is to prompt the industry to take responsibility for working safely and carry out risk assessments. It might sound like common sense, but you’d be surprised how many people need a reminder,” said Beacom.

The Right Tool for the Job is the is the fourth phase of WorkSafe’s ‘Back to Basics’ campaign, which focuses on the most common injury causes on domestic construction sites. The campaign has also focused on basic site housekeeping, planning for a job and site supervision. In coming months, WorkSafe will be revisiting key stages of the campaign. In the meantime, however, the focus is still on making sure tools and equipment are well maintained and fit for purpose.

So, next time you know someone working at a construction site, advise them to stop, step back and think about what the right tools are for the job?
Charlotte Bull is Media Advisor Marketing & Communications for WorkSafe Victoria.