It appears that the ACT’s plan to minimise unsafe work practices in the construction industry is working thanks to its implementation of “on-the-spot” fines.
The ACT Work Safety Inspectorate has more than doubled its prohibition, infringement and improvement notices across the construction industry this year according to an article on Canberra Times website (www.canberratimes.com.au).The work safety authority also increased its site visits and blitzes by almost 15 per cent this year, feats the Work Safety Commissioner attributes to the introduction of on-the-spot fines.
Mark McCabe, the ACT Work Safety Commissioner said the on-the-spot fines of up to $3600 appear to have the greatest influence on unsafe work practices in the state. The outcome has been so positive, that even other states are enquiring as to the implementation of a similar approach.
The Master Builders Association has also reported some positive benefits of the fines, apparently its attendance has gone up in the public education forums about the new fine system. The attendance is up to 500, which is greater than it is for any other public education campaign.
The following is an excerpt from a post on CanberraTimes.com.au and explains more about the on-the-spot fine system:
The new on-the-spot fines for workplace safety breaches were introduced on July 1 in order to raise the profile of safety requirements across the territory but also take some of the pressure off the WorkSafe inspectorate which had no other option other than to prosecute some of the relatively minor offences.
Inspectors are now able to slap a fine of between $720 for an individual and $3600 for a company for safety breaches, including: not notifying WorkSafe ACT of notifiable incidents; not providing first-aid equipment; not providing personal protective equipment; not providing training and instruction on the use of personal protective equipment; not preparing a safe work method statement for high-risk construction work; not ensuring work is carried out in accordance with a safe work method statement; not stopping work if the work is not being carried out in accordance with the safe work method statement; not minimising the risk of collapse of trenches; not preparing a work health and safety management plan; and not ensuring a worker has undergone construction induction training.
Now more than ever employers and workers in the construction sector have an incentive, a financial incentive to improve workplace safety, beginning with safety training.
To ensure site safety employers need to ensure that all employees are adequately trained prior to beginning work on a construction site.
Australian legislation dictates that every worker that sets foot onto a construction site must be appropriately trained and in possession of their construction safety white card. The White Card is the general construction safety certificate that ensures workers are aware of the dangers and hazards presented by construction work and how they can be overcome.
This is vital not only to ensuring that employees know how to work safely on a construction site but also to avoid suffering a loss of productivity if an incident occurs or sustaining on-the-spot fines and possibly facing prosecution.