Table of Contents
Case selection and description.
Case analysis and recommendations.
The current study has focused on Australian constriction industry’s safety management contexts. The long term Workplace Health and Safety (WHS) has showed emergence for developing safety management strategies. An Australian construction site accident case has been taken under consideration to understand the root cause behind the issues and some strategies have been recommended through the construction industry of Australia can be improved.
Workplace safety performance is important to be developed or improved to make the organization’s operations responsible to the society and its workers. Effective safety management provides workers a protective environment that reduces stress and additional hassles at work. Australian construction industry has recently faced some issues regarding safety at work for which is it required to develop a safety management protocol through which this industry can improve safety at work. The aim of the current study is to analyse a case that demonstrated safety requirement at workplace and to provide some recommendations through which the organisation can improve its safety management policy.
A construction site worker in Melbourne, Australia has died in a workplace accident in the year 2018 while working in a Victorian worksite. The age of that deceased was 46 years. Another worker got seriously injured in the same accident. The main reason behind the accident has been considered the fault in the cranes used at workplace. In detail, the 46 year-old worker and his co-worker was submerged in a falling concrete from a crane. The co-worker remained in critical condition after meeting with the accident. A comprehensive inspection upon this incident has indicated that the cranes were not being used as per the guidelines from the manufactures. On the other hand, in spite of identifying mechanical issues with this crane adequate safety measure had not been adopted (Australian Associated Press, 2018). The workplace supervisor was aware of the issues with the crane as those faults were noted on the log book.
This workplace faced a similar issue previously when a crane collapsed though no report of injury was there. The organizational representatives were not ready to comment upon these incidents. However, the co-workers of the deceased worker indicated that the death of the 46 year-old workers was the seventh case they witnessed at Victorian construction sites in the year 2018. It has been detected that the man partially injured was traumatised as he has witnessed the whole incident. The “Worksafe’s” health and safety executive director has considered that it was required to focus majorly on the safety requirements while working with the faulty crane (Smith, 2018).
On Tuesday 3 workers were working in the pit of a residential building’s basement site right when a chain holding a kibble used in transporting concretes has broken down. Two of the workers were submerged and buried under the kibble and wet concrete as well. The third worker has faced a severe injury in arm. The mechanical failure has been attributed to this accident. The crane company has also been held responsible for this accident as adequate safety maintenance procedures was not equipped with the cranes delivered as considered by the site inspectors. The crane accident has also damaged some nearby houses which is also a major pitfall for the organization.
It can also be stated that the workers were not well-trained to understand the mechanical issues with the equipments and were not aware enough for working within a construction site. On the other hand, the accident left the family members of the injured and killed persons inducing the requirement for counselling. Therefore, reviewing the case, it can be stated that there are some issues that could be identified that worked against the workplace health and safety requirement that is considered essential for protecting the workers as well as the society members. The issues are described as follows:
Using the workplace equipments without expertise
Avoiding the safety guidelines
Negligence from the workplace supervisor
Partnership with low quality product supplier
Lack of safety management policy developed
Root causes of accidents
Accidents at the construction sites are common which are considered as the result of mainly the negligence both from the workers and the supervisors. As per the views of Umar, Wamuziri and Egbu (2017), most of the construction site accidents have happened due to lack of proper safety management strategies taken under consideration by the construction companies. It can be more specifically stated that lack of fall protection in the elevated structures for the workers working within the site. The construction site also sometimes lack fall protection for the people at ground against the falling objects. Workplaces may also lack protection or power tools that are effective to use in reducing workplace accidents.
Umar and Egbu (2018) found that the negligence of the employers or the supervisors in providing adequate equipment for maintaining safety at workplace is a more common reason among others. Workers may also have to work in an unsupportive and unsafe property conditions. As argued by Hoła, Sawicki and Szóstak (2018), workplace hazards or accidents may be easily avoided by the workers if they are trained properly. Therefore, it can be inferred that the major reason behind workplace accidents is the lack of awareness of the workers about the effective safety measures that can help in avoiding accidents.
As per the views of Mohammadfam et al., (2018), most of the construction companies do not have roper financial resources to procure safety equipments that can be provided to the workers for protecting them from hazards. However, it is required to be ground rule for the workplaces to ensure safety of the workers first.
The theory that will relate the most with the current case study describing the cause of workplace accident is the Multiple Causation Theory that is an outgrowth of Domino Theory. As per the views of Othman et al., (2018), 88% of the accidents are caused by the acts of the workers that are unsafe. This theory proposes that there is a “five-factor accident sequence” where each factor is related with the next step and causes the accident. The sequence is mentioned as follows:
Root causes embedded within the environment of the workplace. For instance, unsafe equipment use, inadequate safety measures at workplace and others.
The unsafe environment helps in emerging worker’s fault. For instance use of faulty machines may involve workers in accident prone practices
The equipment hazard and workers fault together eventually increase the chances of accident.
The accident occurs due to the presence of these accumulated factors. For instance, falling of objects upon the workers and others.
Lastly, the accident causes injury or damage at workplace. For instance, it may become a cause of death of a worker or may affect the neighbouring residents.
The multiple causation theory highlights that there are some environmental factors that influences workers to act in a particular way that is hazardous which ultimately causes accident. Therefore, domino theory and the outgrowth of the same, the multiple causation theory indicates that there are both environmental and behavioural factors that are responsible for causing harm or accidents at workplace.
Strategies for accident prevention
It can be stated that the high concern from the side of the site supervisors and other higher authorities as well as the awareness and expertise of the site workers are extremely important for preventing accidents at workplace or construction sites. As per the views of (Bharadwaj, 2018), organizational administration is highly responsible for providing safety training to all the site workers so that they can become aware of the potential hazards that may cause accidents in future. Frequent crew safety meetings are also suggested by some experts in preventing accidents at workplace. As argued by Yassierli et al. (2017), most of the workplace accidents occur due to the use of faulty equipments. Therefore, maintaining the tools and machines are required for preventing accidents at workplace. Fall prevention strategies are also required to be adopted by the organizations so that chances of injury due to falling objects are reduced to the minimum.
Bird’s Triangle is a theory of accident prevention proposed by Heinrich that can be discussed here to understand the tactics for preventing potential accidents as well as injuries at workplace. As per the Bird’s Triangle theory, which has been developed by studying 75,000 accident reports, there is a relationship between one major injury accident with 29 minor injury accidents. It is also related to 300 no-injuries or near injury accidents that may take place at the workplace (Khuluqi et al., 2018). Along with the depiction and projection on the potential accidents, the author concluded that the target of the industrial companies will be preventing these 300 no-injury accidents that will help to reduce minor injury accidents and eventually will cancel out the major injury accidents at workplace. This triangle has been observed to be used in different organizational health and safety programs.
Therefore, it can be inferred from the currently described theory that the accident prevention and safety measures are required to be adopted by the construction sites before minor injuries can take place. The no-injury accidents are the path indicators of the same through which potential minor injury accidents can be prevented. As mentioned above, primary safety concerns that include training, risk assessment, maintenance of the mechanisms are required to be accomplished by the organization without waiting for major injury accidents to take place (Fishwick, 2019).
One of the most prominent theorized conceptualisations regarding the causation factors of accidents and industrial mishaps has been widely attributed to the studies put forward by Heinreich. The case study discussed involved an Australian worker dying in a sea of concrete due to a faulty crane is extremely relevant to the age old domino theory put forward by Heinreich in the early 1930s (Yassierli et al. 2017). In terms of the key propositions, the interactions between man and machine and how an absence of carefulness could lead to fatal accidents was the major highlight within the domino theory. Considering the specifications of the case study, the causal factors were largely aligned to utter disregard for human life and safety by the supervising manager along with a blatant overlooking of the general safety guidelines as warranted within the construction industry. The domino theory beaks down the aspect of causation within industrial accidents into five key areas, where ancestry and social environment are the first highlighted area.
The case study depicts that the supervisor was well aware of the faulty crane provided by the low quality supplier, but went ahead with the work irrespective.
Figure 1: Domino theory
(Source: Yassierli et al. 2017)
Naturally, the imminent accident took place and eventually led to the death of the worker. The second highlighted area within the domino theory as put forward by Heinrich relates to the fault of the person, while the third relates to the unsafe act and the resulting physical or mechanical hazard. It was certainly evident within the case study, as the despite the presence of a faulty crane that posed a serious threat to human life and safety, the supervisor did not prohibit the usage of the same and essentially put the lives of his workers at risk.
It would also be important to emphasize on the expertise and a certain standard of care that is required within a seasoned construction worker (Khuluqi et al., 2018). The worker should ideally have inspected the crane prior to its usage, and refused to operate it even if the supervisor asked him to use it anyway. It brings us to the fourth and the fifth segments within the domino theory put forward by Heinrich, which relate to the accident and the injury respectively. The usage of the faulty crane eventually led to the accident where the concrete lifted up by the crane came crashing down and landed on the inner seating area, thus submerging the worker completely and eventually killing him.
It is extremely important to ensure that organizations that cater to high risk industries such as construction and building or manufacturing take robust and comprehensive preventive measures to protect the lives of their workers. While modern developments have certainly emphasized on the importance of safety measures to ensure compliance with regulatory provisions as well as ensuring the safety and the lives of the professionals involve are maintained, theories in this regard were also developed by Heinrich (Jeong and Lee, 2017). The case study discussed in the above sections certainly fails to accommodate the triangle, as allowing the usage of a faulty crane would by no means lead to any sort of prevention for major injury accidents, let alone near misses. Widely referred to as the Bird’s Triangle, the model attempts to correlate serious accidents, minor accidents and near misses.
Figure 2: Bird’s Triangle of accident prevention
(Source: Jeong and Lee, 2017)
The model was largely based on a hypothesised study involving over 75,000 accident reports, where Heinrich mentioned that the key aspect of preventing major accident was limiting the possibility of minor accidents and near misses. The findings of the study showed that 1 major injury was correlated to approximately 29 minor injuries, which further found a correlation with 300 no injury accidents or near misses. Since its publication, the Bird’s Triangle has been extensively used by both large as well as small scale organizations that cater to industries that are inherently risky and dangerous. Had the workers followed the Birds triangle model of accident prevention, it would be very unlikely that the accident took place, which could have subsequently prevented the death of the worker.
Based on the discussion presented above, a number of recommendations could be provided to organizations that operate within dangerous industries. They have been enlisted below and are as follows:
Planning and scheduling the working functions within the business along with an extensive measure of risk assessment would be imperative to any sort of long-term commitment to safety and security of the workers involved.
Training and orientation regarding the use of dangerous or hazardous equipments must be prioritized, irrespective of the financial implications entailed therein.
The equipments must be maintained to the fullest possible extent and checked for faults or errors on a regular basis. Safety should never be compromised, as the fatalities upon occurrence typically tend to have implications that are very critical by nature.
In conclusion, the current case study of death of a site worker at an Australian worksite indicates towards several root causes of that accident. The root causes of the accident includes using faulty equipments at work, lack of protection from falling objects and negligence from the higher authority in ensuring safety of the workers. The current study has taken assistance from two theories among which one describes the causes behind workplace accidents. Understanding the workplace accident causes may help the construction organizations to prevent potential workplace hazards or risks of accidents.
On the other hand, the theory of Bird’s Triangle proposed intelligent accident prevention pyramid through which no-injury accidents can be prevented beforehand so that minor injury accidents as well as the major injury accidents can be prevented by the workplace administration. Based on the lights of these two theories the current case study has been analysed and possible recommendations to improve safety at workplace have been provided.
Australian Associated Press 2018. Audit push after Melbourne worker dies submerged in concrete. Viewed 19 May 2020, <Available at: https://www.theguardian.com/australia-news/2018/sep/07/audit-push-after-melbourne-worker-dies-submerged-in-concrete.>
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Umar, T, Wamuziri, S and Egbu, C, 2017, Causes of accidents in highway construction projects in Oman, In Proceedings of the 6th World Construction Symposium (pp. 96-105), University of Moratuwa, Colombo, Sri Lanka.
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