Let me say from the outset, we value health & safety very highly on our Fernbrooke Homes job sites. My thoughts today are a reflection of what we have seen as small business owners, employers and consumers and I have to be honest, I really think some of what I have seen sucks!
My Thoughts On Health & Safety
As employers and business owners, workplace health and safety consumes a great deal of my week. Ensuring that our sites are running to the expectations set by workplace health and safety is a big job, and not one to be underestimated. This is not my complaint, I am more than happy to work as long as necessary to ensure all our workers are able to safely go home to their families at the end of each day. My issues begin with others and their lack of regard for their own safety, the safety of others, or the responsibility to the principal contractor or home owners.
Just this week, I watched in horror as a neighbours home had what I describe as ‘cowboy’ tradespeople climbing all of it’s roof, preparing the roof for painting, and then painting over a 4 day period, without a single safety precaution in place! As a builder, we spend considerable amounts of money ensuring we have the right scaffold in place to protect not only our workers, but anyone else that may come onto our sight. These cowboys don’t spend a cent on safety and are therefor able to pass on those savings to the consumer, but at what cost really?
My secondary frustration is the amount of subcontractors that have no idea what is required by them, in order to maintain the safety expectations. For example, each subcontractor that enters our work sites, must provide copies of their license, industry white or blue card, copies of insurances, SWMS, test and tag registers and be fully inducted into our site safety plans. More times that I can explain, when asked for these documents, subcontractors have no idea what I am talking about and are not interested in meeting our expectations, which are only a reflection of workplace law.
As principal contractors, no matter who makes the mistake that hurts someone on site, even if it is themselves, we will be at least partially responsible, no matter what precautions we have put in place. So when I have a large amount of our subbies who initially have no idea what I am talking about, I begin to think there is a real failing on behalf of workplace health and safety to educate subcontractors in general. For sure, there is plenty of information on the workplace health and safety website, but that is only found when you have a clue what you need to look for.
Furthermore, I feel that those ‘cowboy’ contractors need to be fined, and heavily fined in order for there to be a massive change generated within the industry. For the most part, commercial have embraced this trend well, however on a residential level, we are still seriously lacking. Remember a few years back when the police were blitzing all ute and trailer drivers who didn’t have a net, yep that. That is exactly what needs to happen on residential work site to ensure the safety of all, before it’s too late.