Let’s be honest – health and safety regulations are a pain. I’ll be the first to admit it. For businesses like ours, when we’re on a building or construction site working with heavy loads and around serious equipment, there are a lot of rules. We have to use such-and-such tools or wear certain items of clothing. Sometimes it feels like these are getting in the way of doing our job.
But we need work-safe rules because I want every one of my team to get home to their families safe at the end of every day.
It’s too easy to complain about specific rules and regulations when they feel like they slow down a job or add another cost, but I would rather buy a thousand pairs of safety goggles than have to take one of my block layers to A&E with an eye injury. I’d rather wear high-viz than get hit by a forklift.
We do pretty much all our stone cutting wet rather than dry. Does a wet stone cut better than dry? No. What it means, though, is that we’re not kicking up and breathing in kinds of dust that stays in our eyes and lungs. Plus special cleaners help us minimise dust on site to stop it getting kicked up in the wind and affecting others.
Health and safety is all about sensible prevention. We do what we can and should to keep site safe and do the least harm possible. That comes down to little things like dust masks and hard hats and big things like new equipment and site safe inductions. All our leads get tagged and tested every three months. Every second year our block layers take a site safe course and get assessed at a cost of around $170 per head. We wear these so that the chance of an accident is as close to zero as we can get it.
To keep a project running, we’re thinking ahead to what kinds of unique risks we can expect and how to best work around them. Every site is different to a degree, with varying access points, slopes, and working around everyone and everything else on the site – especially on commercial jobs. We’re keeping our spaces clean and clear and using the correct scaffolding. We do our best to keep ourselves safe, and make sure others know where we are by tying off our work so they can see and work around us. Fewer accidents also means less stress or hold-ups on our clients’ projects, so whatever keeps us in check is good for everyone.
We’re proud of a clean track record for incidents on site (touch wood), so we know we’re doing something right.
Things have been getting safer in recent years, too, so we’re looking forward to fewer reports on the news of serious accidents and harm and making sure more tradies get home safe every night. I reckon that’s worth the extra paperwork.