I see tradies working safely every day. Looking out for each other, making safe choices. On sites that look chaotic, messy, noisy, and busy. Amongst the chaos is a bunch of guys making hundreds of choices every hour. Hundreds of safe choices that go unrecognised until that one choice that goes wrong, ends up in casualty and all over snapchat. Another tradie statistic.
If we’re talking honestly, safety doesn’t seem a big priority among tradies. Getting the job done on time and on budget so you’re making a profit at the end of the week is a far bigger concern. When faced with a decision to go get the correct equipment to do the job safely or just quickly jump up and get the last couple of nails in, we all know what happens.
It’s all nice and easy sitting in an office but it’s a whole different ball game on site. If you haven’t spent serious time on site, you don’t know what you’re talking about. Rocking up in a fancy pair of boots, shiny hard hat, and banging on about working safely isn’t going to change things. Having all the stuff you’re doing wrong pointed out by some knob doesn’t help at all. What about pointing out all the things that are done well, all the ways safety is being managed well.
Unfortunately, the statistics paint a pretty rough picture. According to WorkSafe Victoria around 10 tradies are seriously injured at work every day. That’s 10 mangled hands, smashed fingers, stuffed backs, messed up eyes, bung knees. Every day, 3,560 compo claims every year.
Let’s hear what WorkSafe’s top dog has to say, "The number of deaths, injuries and safety breaches prove that everyone – builders, contractors and workers – must do more to make sure workers get home to their families safely every night," WorkSafe Chief Executive Denise Cosgrove said. "The injuries caused on sites are not always life threatening, but are often painful, costly and result in long periods off work," said Ms Cosgrove.
During these long periods off work another major issue pops up. Mental Health. For tradies, the job’s not just a job. It’s so much more. When you can’t go to work a whole bunch of stuff starts going through your head. “How am I going to pay the bills?” “When am I going to be able to go back to work?” “Will I be able to get back to full strength?” You start to doubt yourself.
Being away from the boys is hard. You might hang shit on each other all day and have a whinge and sook every now and again but when you’re not part of the crew anymore, it starts to take its toll in your head. Statistics released on the official Tradies' Health website reveal that 18 per cent of injured workers sought mental health services after six months off work. After a year off, that number increased to 30 per cent.
That’s nearly 1 in 3 who go and seek help. What would the number be if you included all the ones who don’t speak up? The ones who just grunt it out alone. This all starts with attitudes towards safety on the job site. The most common one is, 'it won’t happen to me'. Of course not. Not me. Some other bloke sure but not me. We’ll get back to attitudes later, but for now let’s explore the 5 most common hazards for you.
The Top 5
1. Working at Heights
2. Asbestos Exposure
Hazards due to electricity comes in many forms, some of which you can see. Problems with extension leads, power tools, and exposed wires are easy to manage. Underground services and dodgy wiring hidden behind walls are not so easy to spot.
4. Heavy Lifting
5. Excessive Noise
Creating a positive attitude towards safety starts by talking about it. Knowing what to say and how to say it requires access to solid, no-bullshit information. This is where we come in. We’ve had years of experience on site and understand that attitudes aren’t going to change overnight. We can provide you some simple strategies to get the conversation started and the move safety in the right direction.