Description of the workplace
Kenoss Construction Limited is a private limited company that was founded in 1995, and it is located in Australia, Canberra. The company is mostly involved with highway and street construction and also, custom home design, home construction, wine cellar design and other services. The company consists of 11 to 50 employees. Regarding the workplace of Kenoss, since it mostly deals with civil engineering, it involves workers getting in contact with machines which can be unsafe and carry out hazardous practices. The workplace has many things that present danger to the employees because many physical materials may not have been placed well. Therefore, the workplace can be said to be sensitive and requires the adoption of safety precautions for the smooth operation.
The hazards and how safety breach could have been avoided
Every workplace has some health and security hazards. The only problem is that there are some risks that put the workers at risk of getting an accident. It is the duty of the employer to ensure all the workers are protected against any health and safety hazards and ensure that employees are aware of any potential hazards in the workplace. The workers have a right and responsibility of ensuring they work in safe places and in case the workplace is dangerous, they can refuse to work (Walters & Nichols, 2009). This can help avoid accidents, injuries and property damage and in some extreme cases death. Any workplace hazard should not be ignored like the case of Michael Booth who was electrocuted at work because of slung power lines. There are different types of workplace hazards, especially in a construction workplace.
Safety hazards are common at construction workplaces because they involve unsafe working conditions that can lead to injury illness and death. Examples of safety hazards are spills and tripping due to stairways, anything that may result in falling example ladders, scaffolds and raised worksites, unguarded machinery, confined spaces and electrical hazards. In the case of Kenos Construction employee died because of the electrical risks (McNamara, Bohle & Quinlan, 2011).
Tripping and slipping can be avoided by ensuring that the stairway treads and walkways are free of dangerous materials and objects. In case of and slippery conditions, it is corrected with an immediate effect. People should also use proper ladders for their tasks and ensure they are long enough to allow safe reaching of the work area. Any ladder with metallic components should be avoided if it is near an electrical place (Walters & Nichols, 2009). Unguarded machinery should be put in place like a store where workers do not visit frequently, and that machinery in use should be well taken care of. This will prevent workers from getting accidents and falling. All electrical tools should be properly handled (Access Economics, 2008).
Scaffolding is one of the hazards that have many reported injuries and accidents. This is because when scaffolds are not used properly, people fall. This can be avoided by ensuring that any damaged part that can affect the strength of the scaffold is replaced or taken out of service. More weight should not be loaded on scaffolds. During bad weather or high winds, employees should not be permitted to work. Workers should be trained on proper procedures of moving platforms horizontally. All scaffolds should be fully plunked, and no extra material should be allowed to build upon scaffold platforms. Therefore taking into consideration all these precautions, accidents will be avoided (Johnstone, 2008).
These are the hazards that are common and present in the workplace. These hazards can cause harm to the body without being in contact (Allen Consulting Group, 2007). Examples of these hazards are loud noise that can lead to communication hazard, radiation, temperature extremes, and exposure to sunlight. At construction workplaces, exposure to extreme temperatures, sunlight and radiation can be avoided by workers wearing the necessary protective garments and wearing hard hats (Peetz & Alexander, 2010). This way, the workers are protected from radiation and sunlight.
Communication hazard is one of the physical hazards that affect construction workplaces because of noise and unawareness. At construction places, there is a lot of noise that makes people unable to communicate clearly. These can be avoided by employers looking for special communication devices for workers to use instead of shouting at each other. For work to be done efficiently workers need to communicate, examples of the devices are, high noise blue tooth headsets, electronic communication earplugs and face-to-face great noise communications (Price, 2011).
Another communication hazard is the failure of workers to recognize chemically related substances because they can lead to burns, fires, respiratory problems, and explosions. These hazards can be prevented by the employer providing a list of hazardous substances found at the worksite and coming up with a program that trains employees on hazardous materials (Quinlan, Bohle & Lamm, 2010). The employer can also ensure all containers with hazardous chemicals are labeled and staff trained on how to read and use Material Safety Data Sheets (MSDS). This way there will be awareness.
Ergonomic hazards occur when the body is strained because of the working condition. Someone cannot identify them easily because one cannot know the harm they are causing. There are those short-term exposures that may lead to sore muscles, and there are those long-term exposures that can result in serious illness. Examples are frequent lifting, using too much force especially when lifting and awkward movements (Gallagher & Underhill, 2012). This can be prevented by ensuring that lighting used is enough and in the case of lifting heavy materials, it is not done daily.
They are present in the liquid, solid and gaseous form. Chemical hazards come in when one is exposed to chemicals during chemical preparation. Some chemicals are safe while others are dangerous because there are those who are sensitive to chemicals. Exposure to chemicals comes in during cleaning of products, using paint, vapors and fumes come in during welding and being exposed to solvents, and flammable materials like explosives (Walters, Wadsworth, Marsh, Davies & Lloyd, 2012). This can be prevented by ensuring all flammable material are handled away from flames. People should wear protective garments when cleaning products.
Work organizational hazards
Work organizational hazards are problems that come due to workplace issues due lack of respect and workload. For example, sexual harassment, lack of control on what you say, social support and workplace violence. At the construction workplace, men tend to look down upon women, therefore, losing respect. Men tend to be violent at workplaces. All these can be avoided if workers will respect each other irrespective of gender and ranks (Kaine, 2012).
What happened at Kenoss and how safe work resolved the issue
Kenoss Contractors were fined over the death of their co-worker. Mr. Michael Booth who was 48 years old died in 2012 because he was electrocuted during his line of duty. Mr. Booth was a subcontractor and was delivering a load of gravel-type material to a fenced compound. The tip truck touched low-slung power lines at the work site leading to an electrocution. This was concluded because an electrical arc was high enough to deflate the tires and leave burn marks. He jumped out of the truck and died later on. This was a sad incidence that could have been avoided.
The safe work resolved the issue by the court. The company was found guilty as it had not given a warning about the wires. The court fined Canberra Construction $1.1 million. It also gave a strong warning to company leaders around the country on negligence. The workers were informed about the wires and told not to use tall equipment in the compound. The employee sensitization about their safety made them have confidence and know their rights so that they can advocate for them in the case violated (Safe Work Australia, 2012). Therefore, this was important in making other companies learn a lesson from the incidence and thus, ensure that they make a safe workplace for their employees.
What could have been done differently
There are various aspects that Kenoss could have done differently to improve the safety of the workplace. Some of these practices include the organization having replaced the frayed, damaged or worn electrical cables. The electrical tools should have been properly grounded unless they are double insulated. The electrical devices and appliances should be checked frequently for defects and serviced regularly. The organization ignored the safety measures when dealing with electricity in any environment. The electric power is dangerous and risky to human life, and thus, it is important for every organization to put in place sufficient precautions to reduce its damage. Observing precautions can significantly reduce the damage caused by electricity (Safe Work Australia, 2010).
The company should have placed a notice about the tip for workers to know. Signs are critical in avoiding the issues of the workplace health and safety. They help people to read and interpret the hazards and thus avoid them (Productivity Commission, 2010). The son of the general manager should not have been appointed as a safety officer because he was not qualified for the job. Unqualified staff cannot be the best people to handle the workplace health and safety. Thus, companies need to employ only the qualified staff. Therefore, the company can avoid health and safety issues if it considers the necessary precautions (Blewett & Dorrian, 2011).
How I could do to address the issue if I worked for Kenoss
I would advise workers to always work as a team. This is because when people work in groups of at least two and more another person can easily notice things that another one does not. The employers and the managers should also be involved in what is done so that they can be on the ground to notice what happens. For example, if Mr. Booth had someone else they were working with maybe the person could have noticed the slung power lines and warned him. The fact that he was alone could not allow him to concentrate on something else but just on where he was going (Workplace Relations Ministers’ Council, 2009).
It is recommended to the company managers to review any past accidents or any incident that was reported and determine the cause of those accidents or incidents. The employer should also always talk to the employees to find out if there is any threat when carrying out their daily duties. When given this type of information it can be easy to prevent any hazards in the future. I would advise the company to plan an assessment workflow where by people can assess on hazards in advance. Accidents may still occur but this way they will be reduced, and it will be rare to encounter serious accidents. If this was done, then the employees could have informed the employer that the power line was not in a good condition.
Employees should be involved when dealing with issues concerning hazards around the workplace. The employees working in hazardous areas can point out the risky areas and practices and also offer suggestions on how the hazards can be controlled. Assumptions should also not be made one's employees feel there is a risk because no one has been injured yet. The son of the general manager, who was the safety officer, should not have assumed the issue about the slung power line even though he was not qualified. He should have reported about the treatment so that it can be dealt with.
In conclusion, workplace health and safety should be taken into consideration by both the employers and employees. It is everyone's responsibility to ensure they are safe and try their best to escape the hazardous environment. In every workplace, there are hazards that exist from the physical, safety, biological, chemical and work organizational hazards. There is no better workplace than another that one could prefer because there are no dangers.
It should be easy for all people to get along with one another because this helps to save each other. Respect should be something that no one should overlook as it helps people to treat each other equally. This way a fellow worker will not let another get an accident just because of different cultures. An employee will allow the employer to go to use flammable materials near a flame because they are not aware, but instead, the employee will caution them. This hazard can be prevented if people work as a team and treat each other as they wish to be treated.
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