Men’s Health Seminar – Secret Men’s Business

Research shows that men tend to visit their doctor less than women, skip annual checkups or delay getting medical help when they need it. Many men ignore symptoms that could be an indicator of cancer and other disease.

For this reason, we chose Men’s Health as the topic for the latest in CTC’s Safety Series Seminars which was held Tuesday, 28th November in the Hugh Hamilton Conference Room.

Three presenters shared their knowledge about major issues impacting on men’s health.  First up was Phil Hortz, Field Officer with Mates in Construction who shared sobering statistics about the suicide rate among Australian construction workers. Mates in Construction is a charity established in 2008 to reduce the high level of suicide among Australian construction workers. Their model uses training as a tool to raise awareness of the problem and empowers everyone can be part of the solution. Support is provided by offering clear pathways to professional help, case management processes and on-site visits by field officers.

Next up was Phil Diver, CEO of The Construction Training Centre whose talk focused on the psychological and physical impacts of stress and gave pointers on how we can become a master of stress in our lives using simple but effective techniques such as breathing exercises, mindfulness and power-posing.

Phil is available to deliver this insightful talk in your organisation. Just contact us to arrange.

Our keynote speaker was Dr Tariq Ali from SMG Health. Dr Ali is a highly respected medical practitioner and dentist who recently immigrated to Australia from the U.K. He focused on the vital information men need to know about managing their health.

He said men are less likely to admit to experiencing emotional stress or to visit a GP without being prompted. They are more likely to remain in denial about their health, eat processed foods, exercise less, drink alcohol in excess, smoke, use illicit drugs and engage in other risky behaviours.

Dr Ali focused on the main issues for men, starting with cardiovascular disease and the “deadly quartet” of diabetes, hypertension, obesity and dyslipidemia (the abnormally elevated cholesterol or fats (lipids) in the blood).

He noted that the impact of diabetes is often underestimated. People know that diabetes is a disease of abnormal carbohydrate metabolism, characterised by hyperglycaemia but they may not be aware of other effects such as increased susceptibility to infections, poor wound healing, peripheral nerve damage, microvascular damage and ultimately end organ damage.

He discussed the merits of adopting a Mediterranean diet and exercising regularly to manage weight and prevent lifestyle diseases.

Cancers that affect men include bowel, prostate, testicular, skin and lung cancer.  1 in 3 Australian men will be diagnosed with cancer by the age of 75.  It is important that men visit their GP when they notice something unusual because it might be an indicator of cancer. They should also schedule regular cancer screening tests.

Dr Ali finished by using the analogy of motor vehicle maintenance and your health.  Some people, when they notice something wrong with their car,will immediately take it into their motor mechanic for repair, while others wait and then the problem becomes expensive to fix.  The same can be said for your health.  He said if men invested in their “Health Superannuation” they had more chance of living longer. Key areas of investment are:

  • Cardio-respiratory reserve
  • Hepatorenal reserve
  • Core muscle strength
  • Bone mineral density and carriable muscle mass
  • Mental agility (learning skills in later life)
  • Stress (easing off the accelerator)
  • Good social network
  • Good dental and skin health

To hear more, click on the link to our podcast where you’ll hear Dr Tariq Ali and Phil Diver discussing the key issues around men’s health. Men’s Health Podcast with Dr Tariq Ali.

Safety Seminar about Preventing Heat Stress

Working in hot and/or humid environments is not only uncomfortable, it can also result in heat-related illness, which can be fatal. Heat-related deaths and illnesses are preventable, but it’s important to identify the warning signs and to react swiftly and appropriately when they arise.

For this reason, managing heat was chosen as the topic for CTC’s latest Safety Seminar held on Wednesday, 30th August in Hot Leasing.

First up was Zach du Preez, A/Principal Advisor – Occupational Hygiene – Workplace Health & Safety Queensland who explained how to identify and assess the risk of heat stress. It is important to consider:-

  • What are the workplace conditions?  Consider humidity, surface temperatures, exposure period, reflective surfaces, hot plant etc.
  • What are the job requirements?  How complex, how heavy is the work, how regular are the breaks, are there shady areas, what are the PPE requirements?
  • What are the individual worker attributes?  Are they used to this type of work?  Do they have a pre-existing medical condition?  Would they know the signs of heat stress?

Workplace Health & Safety Queensland have an on-line tool to assist in identifying and assessing the risk of heat stress Heat Stress Basic Calculator Test.  Control measures must be implemented when the risk of a heat related illness is assessed as high. For more information from Workplace Health & Safety Queensland about managing heat exposure, visit their website.

Zach finished with a scenario about a worker who suffered the affects of heat stress.  He mentioned how the symptoms of heat stress can easily be confused with those of a heart attack. In the last 5 years, there have been over 200 reported incidents of heat stress, 22 of which resulted in serious injury or death.

The second presenter was Di A-Izzeddin, Operations Manager & Director of 4cRisk Pty Ltd. 4cRisk has developed a program to help identify and manage heat related risks. Like the previous speaker, Di stressed the importance of considering environmental and physiological aspects in addition to air temperature when managing the risk of heat stress.

Engineering controls can include fans, thermal blanketing etc. Physiological controls could include educating workers to drink sufficient fluids to stay adequately hydrated. There are tools available to measure hydration levels. Making electrolyte replacements available is a good control measure. Our bodies are designed to regulate heat, but other factors can make it difficult to maintain a safe temperature (as described above).

To finish, Di stressed the importance of workplaces implementing a robust program that takes into consideration all factors that contribute to heat related illness.

The final presentation was a practical demonstration from Charmaine Streeter and Tracy McLean from Queensland Health’s Clinical Skills Development Service.  Using “volunteers” from the audience, they demonstrated how to identify the signs and symptoms and apply first aid for the 3 levels of heat-related illness.

  • Heat cramps
    • Signs/symptoms – painful muscle cramps and spasms usually in legs and abdomen, heavy sweating
    • Treatment – Move to cooler place, apply firm pressure on cramping muscles or gently massage to relieve spasm; give sips of water unless the person complains of nausea, then stop giving water.
  • Heat exhaustion
    • Signs/symptoms – faint or dizzy, excessive sweating, cool pale clammy skin, nausea or vomiting, rapid, weak pulse, muscle cramps
    • Treatment – Get to cooler air conditioned place, lie down, loosen clothing, cool by fanning, drink water if fully conscious, take a cool shower or use cold compresses.
  • Heat stroke
    • Signs/symptoms – throbbing headache, no sweating, body temperature above 40 degrees C, red hot dry skin, nausea or vomiting, rapid strong pulse, may lose consciousness.
    • Treatment – Emergency – call 000. Take immediate action to cool the person until help arrives.

We were grateful for the support of Allens Industrial Products, Paramount Safety, CBus and QLeave who provided displays at the seminar.

For more information about CTC’s Safety Series Seminars contact us. Our next seminar is scheduled for Wednesday, 22nd November 2017 and will focus on Elevated Work Platform safety.

Safety Series Seminar focuses on Preventing Workplace Injuries

The latest in CTC’s Safety Series Seminars was held on Wednesday, 24th August. The focus for this seminar was to highlight how to avoid workplace injuries and how WorkCover Queensland can work with employers to reduce the impact on injured staff.

The seminar coincided with Tradies National Health Month which aims to raise awareness of the risks posed to those who work in trade occupations. Tradies National Health Month is an initiative of the Australian Physiotherapy Association (APA) and we were fortunate to have Marina Vitale representing their organisation as a guest speaker. She was joined by Gabrielle Turner, Ashleigh Quilty & Troy Mewburn, Customer Advisors with WorkCover Queensland.

Marina said statistics from WorkCover Queensland reveal that muscular skeletal injuries account for 42% of reported injuries and of these, 33% are back injuries. While we all age, the state that our bodies are in, combined with accumulated injuries incurred every day for years, impacts the nature of workplace injuries.

Factors that are important for managing injury risk include:

  • Where you work
  • Manual task risk
  • What you do
  • How you work

Tools workers can use to prevent injury include:

  • Weight management
  • Quit smoking
  • Drink sufficient water
  • Sleep and eat well
  • Manage health conditions

Employers should use prevention tools such as:

  • Encouraging employees to report niggles early
  • Walk the talk – lead by action and example
  • Refer to the Hazardous Manual Task Code of Practice 2011
  • Review SOP’s – how things are done should be aligned with the Code
  • Conduct ergonomic analysis
  • Use PErforM – a collaborative approach to manage task risk in the workplace (the regulator promotes training in this area)
  • Train supervisors specifically on return to work and muscular skeletal anatomy
  • Proactively manage older worker issues
  • Offer early intervention services
  • Utilise Job Access and Job in Jeopardy programs (these are Commonwealth funded programs lasting 6 months providing access to an exercise physiologist and GP care through Centrelink)

Physiotherapists can assist by:

  • Improving health and wellness
  • Conduct worksite visits
  • Demonstrating exercises for improving balance/pelvic floor – important part of core strength
  • Providing functional capacity evaluations
  • Conducting fitness for work assessments
  • Conducting pre-employment assessments
  • Providing Suitable Duties and Return to Work services.

Workers can manage muscular skeletal discomfort by:

  • Avoiding overreaching
  • Using mechanical assistance where possible
  • Maintaining tools – keep these sharp etc. so no pushing required
  • Be conscious of hand tool design
  • Keeping neutral positions for power and stability
  • Avoiding awkward postures
  • Avoiding ill fitting shoes

The following factors which affect worker recovery rates:

  • Not reporting early
  • Not receiving treatment early
  • Not receiving the correct treatment
  • Inappropriate duties being assigned on return to work

Marina finished her presentation by demonstrating some stretches that can be incorporated into the workplace.

Gabrielle Turner, Ashleigh Quilty & Troy Mewburn (Customer Advisors) then spoke about how WorkCover Queensland can  help business by identifying trends, assisting with the return to work process, injury prevention management (IPaM), information campaigns and access to industry resources.

The construction industry had 9,620 claims costing $116 million and required 35 days off work on average  – 42% of these were muscular-skeletal 33% were classified as lacerations and burns. Consulting Workcover Queensland to promote a safe work environment can result in lower injuries and reduced premiums.

Potential flags that claims are escalating:

  • Claimants not engaging with the business
  • Focussing on pain rather than using positive language
  • Poor support network
  • Claimants becoming withdrawn from social activities
  • Longer recoveries
  • Struggling with performance

Proactive employers display the following:

  • Early return to work from claimants
  • Keep in contact with the claimant
  • Invite claimants to work social functions
  • Educate employees on the return to work process
  • Have employee assistance programs (counselling) available
  • Ensure claimant’s colleagues are aware of their alternative duties

To find out more about CTC’s Safety Series Seminars, call us on 07 3216 6711 or visit our website.

Safety Series Seminar focuses on Materials and Personnel Hoists

The latest in the series of Safety Seminars was held in CTC’s Hot Leasing facility on Wednesday, 25th May. Around 60 people representing various sectors attended the seminar which highlighted safety issues and concerns around Materials and Personnel Hoists.

Industry experts Stuart Davis, Principal Adviser from Workplace Health & Safety Queensland and Dave Van Der Poel, QLD/NT Sales Manager with Alimak Hek shared their knowledge and provided interesting insights around construction hoist safety.

materials hoistIn his talk, Stuart advised that there are very few incidents involving hoists, partly due to the good safety standards. The danger though is that complacency can develop.

He noted that there had only been two serious incidents, both of which related to equipment failure. The first event was catastrophic – the counterweight came off killing the operator, and the second the drive plate locked and the hoist fell, resulting in the operator’s back being broken.

The major danger relates to the potential of falling objects. Should bolts not be installed or tested properly, they can fall off. When commissioning, it is important to specify the tests to be conducted i.e. drop test, emergency stop, brake test and others as mentioned in the standard.  Also be conscious of wind speed. Whilst the hoist is secured to the building, this should still be considered as to when the wind speed is too great to safely operate. Another item to consider is where to place the wind meter.

Stuart also briefly reported on the potential changes to the Queensland Tower Crane Code of Practice which is part of the national processes under review. Stuart was part of the working group tasked with this review.  Key points are that major (10 year) inspections will remain and advertising on tower crane booms will no longer be permitted.

Dave Van Der Poel presented his insights on behalf of Alimak Hek – a publicly listed company which developed the first rack and pinion drive hoist.

In layman’s terms, his said a hoist is a machine developed to transport goods and people vertically.

The 300 kg materials hoist available in CTC’s Hot Leasing facility is an example of a smaller unit designed to transport materials only. People are not permitted to travel in this in Australia, however in other overseas jurisdictions, there are not the same stringent safety requirements. For example, in India, people could be transported in a 300 kg materials hoist.

The efficiencies gained by using the larger hoists are being seen by builders of the large scale towers. In the past, cranes would be required to move material such as plasterboard to the next story being constructed. This would require a crane and multiple personnel including doggers and riggers to move the boards to the desired location. It is much simpler and more cost-effective when hoists are utilised.  Hoists also minimise manual handling and potential injury.

Hoists travel up the mast, which are normally secured to the building at 6m intervals. The landing door arrangements are important requiring compliance with a number of safety regulations. The hoist has to be completely screened to full height. When travelling, the doors are locked mechanically and electronically, so the doors cannot be opened unless stopped at a landing floor. Doors on the landing and hoist are interlocked to an Australian specific standard.

In summary, the key points to take away from the seminar are:materials hoist2

  • Safety device
    • Has a maximum lifespan of 5 years
    • Critical to ensure the hoist will stop even if the drive fails
  • Maintenance
    • Critical to ensure continued safe operation
    • OEM Service is required after every 40 hours of use
    • The hoist should be checked each day as part of the start of day routine
    • Functional tests should be conducted after each project
    • Correct ties and bolts should be used to install
  • If hiring a unit
    • Installation is critical to safety
    • Check the following before allowing a unit onto the site:
      • the service records are current
      • the safety device tag is current

For information about this or CTC’s state of the art Hot Leasing facility, visit our website

Safety Seminar focuses on Confined Space Safety

The latest in CTC’s series of safety seminars was held last Wednesday, 24th February 2016.  The topic was Confined Space Safety. Presenters highlighted safety issues around practitioners entering a confined space.

Confined space 4
Guest presenters Brett Biddle of WH&SQ and Rick Millar of WAHA with Phil Diver,CEO of CTC

The first presenter was Brett Biddle, an Inspector with Workplace Health and Safety, Queensland. He spoke about issues concerning safety, and recounted incidents that highlight areas of concern.

Confined space 3
Brett Biddle recounted some insightful incidents he’d investigated around confined space safety

“Often people can overlook the obvious, which can have disastrous consequences for personnel and management”, Brett commented.

Brett mentioned a number of matters that practitioners should be aware of, namely:

  • A query often asked of him is “am I working in a confined space?’.
    • Complete a risk assessment prior to entering the area, considering the legislation and code of practice
    • Should the assessment indicate that the area might be a confined space, treat it as a confined space
  • Training
    • All persons on the confined space entry team should be well trained
    • The entry person (as the gatekeeper) is a key role
    • All staff should be rotated through various roles to ensure competency.
  • Check communications are operational
    • Communication between the rescuer and entry personnel
    • Communication between rescuer and emergency services
  • Rescues
    • All equipment (including rescue gear) should be inspected and set up prior to entry to the confined space in the event of a rescue being required
    • Rescues should be drilled and practised regularly – drills save lives
  • As things evolve, ensure that risk assessments are reviewed and re-assessed.
  • Will we have sufficient oxygen?
    • We need sufficient for life otherwise workers begin to behave erratically
    • A number of matters may change the amount of oxygen available – e.g. the addition of other gases
    • Be mindful of positional asphyxia (crushing may remove oxygen)
  • Maintain equipment
    • Recycling fans with snorkels often get damaged and shorter and shorter over time as the tubing is damaged
    • Ensure your calculations are accurate so that the above equipment will recycle air sufficiently in the confined space
  • Working in remote locations – may have other sources of contaminants that need to be considered i.e. gases from other generators
  • Water and engulfing need to be considered
  • When inspectors arrive on site, often the rescue equipment has “just left site”

Brett then shared some examples of investigations he’d undertaken as a result of confined space incidents.

1.  Investigation of safety relating to water tankers which are a confined space

  • Staff were asked where the rescue equipment was located.
  • This was some distance from the confined space and sufficiently removed to be of little use in a rescue situation.

2.  Investigation of an incident where a worker sustained a back injury while working in a confined space

  • The company had been practising their rescues, and was fully competent
  • However the emergency services rescued the injured worker as there were no other risks (e.g. fumes)
  • The company was fully cleared on investigation

3.  Investigation into a worker injury:

  • A large galvanised plate had to be removed from a switch room
  • The room was not treated as a confined space, it was treated as a room
  • He was not wearing breathing apparatus
  • The plate required 3 cuts to remove it
  • The worker started to feel ill, took a break and continued to cut. Once the job was completed the worker went home feeling ill
  • His next door neighbour discovered him slumped over the steering wheel of his vehicle, and called an ambulance. Luckily he survived, as he was drowning from the fumes.
  • On investigation, this incident occurred because all parties were unaware of confined space matters.
  • Ignorance is no defence.

The second speaker was Rick Millar, Chairman of the Working at Heights Association (WAHA) Technical Committee who presented the findings of a confined space survey the Association conducted recently.

Respondents highlighted a number of concerns:

  • Varying state regulations regarding Confined Space
    • 60% of respondents would be affected by this as they operated across state boundaries
    • consistency across company work sites
    • additional references required
    • extra burden on resources
  • Approximately 26% of respondents are unclear on the Australian Standard AS2865 requirements
  • Majority believed the training available was sufficient, however 32% still required extra support in this area
  • Most extra support was sourced from manufacturers and distributors – rather than a single source of information.

Rick Millar along with Stuart Lange from Capital Safety then presented a live demonstration of how to effect a Confined Space Rescue.

Confined space 2
Rick Millar was joined by Stuart Lange from Capital Safety to demonstrate a live rescue

Crane Safety Seminar at CTC

The latest in CTC’s Safety Series Seminars was held in the Hot Leasing facility  on Wednesday, 25th November.  The topic this time was crane safety – what you should look out for when visiting a site where cranes are operating and what your workplace health and safety obligations are. CTC was fortunate to have two industry experts share their knowledge about safety and innovation around cranes.

The first to speak was Brandon Hitch, CEO of the Crane Industry Council of Australia (CICA), the national peak body for the crane industry. He has a masters degree in engineering from the University of Michigan and has extensive experience in the crane, automotive and heavy trucking sectors both in the United States and Australia. Brandon’s talk focused on the recently released CraneSafe Inspection App as well as major inspections on cranes.

Then is was the turn of Danny Black, General Manager of Terex Cranes and also President of CICA. His career in cranes spans 25 years after joining Franna Cranes as a Design Engineer in 1989. In 2012 Danny was awarded the CICA Con Popov Memorial Award in recognition of his engineering achievements and for his contributions to the Australian crane industry. Danny spoke about using technology to improve operator safety with pick and carry cranes.

Below are slides from Brandon Hitch’s presentation:

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Scaffolding In the Spotlight at CTC

IMGP2232A turnout of 62 people from numerous stakeholder groups attended CTC’s recent Safety Series Seminar on Wednesday, 26th August 2015.

This free seminar, as with previous seminars in the series, focused on a high risk activity, discussing the topic of scaffolding.

Two industry experts, Stuart Davis and Warren Reddicliffe gave their insight into scaffolding at the event.

The first presenter was Stuart Davis from Workplace Health and Safety Queensland, who discussed the importance of safety when working with scaffolding, and how to maintain safety when on the job.

He talked about how scaffolding is a temporary structure and needed to be treated as such when working.

He mentioned that single elements are the biggest cause of fatalities in scaffolding, including:

  • Hop up brackets
  • Overlapped platforms
  • Insert type anchor ties

Stuart also talked about the use of harnesses in scaffolding. He emphasized that harnesses are not required if scaffolding is done progressively, but are required on hung scaffolding.  He also said that although the law states harnesses are not required, if a company policy indicates harness use, there is no issue.

Stuart made special mention of how anchor insert ties are being used too early in green concrete, resulting in poor retention of the anchor.

Stuart’s last topic was about why stair modules drop out. He stated there are a few reasons such as weld failure, stair modules not being square to the transom and fatigue to the steel. He announced that Workplace Health & Safety Queensland will issue an alert on the matter soon.

Stuart’s segment was followed by a talk from Warren Reddicliffe, who oversees all of the QuickAlly business and engineering. He is a leader in the industry for both product knowledge and industry regulation.

He revealed that there have been many improvements in scaffolding, including the use of robotic welding.

Warren discussed the advantages and disadvantages of using aluminium in scaffolding. He said that:

  • In 2014  30% of all scaffolding sold in Australia was aluminium
  • Aluminium is one-third weaker than steel
  • Aluminium is more efficient than steel
  • Aluminium is more beneficial to worker’s health and safety
  • A 3 metre standard in aluminium is 7 kg while steel is 16.5 kg, making aluminum much easier to work with
  • Aluminium is not recommended for demolition work
  • Mixing and matching of couplers is not recommended as steel is usually 48mm and aluminium is 50mm which could lead to crushing the tube
  • Aluminium does have some steel components, such as the end fittings, which can rust
  • Always check for wear
  • Check loadings for different size transoms and ledgers
  • Polypropylene platforms are a new addition and have a lifespan of about 10 years
  • Ignorance is no excuse in law should an investigation come about after an incident

“Our Safety Series Seminars this year have been a great success”, commented CTC Training Enterprise Manager Peter Walker.

“The scaffolding seminar is no exception and we look forward to offering more seminars in the series in the months ahead”, he added.

“We surveyed participants to gauge their preference for future topics, and we will take this on board to deliver seminars that are relevant and beneficial to industry”.

Visit Hot Leasing to learn about CTC’s state of the art high risk work licence and safety training facilities.

Nearly 100 People Attend CTC’s Safety Seminar

Nearly 100 people from various stakeholder groups attended CTC’s Safety Series Seminar on Wednesday, 27th May 2015.  The third in a series of safety seminars focusing on high risk activities, the topic this time was working at heights and rope access.

Falling from heights is the leading cause of death in the construction industry. It’s three times more common in construction than in any other industry, with 1.03 deaths per 100,000 workers. In addition to the high number of fatalities due to falls, each day, 21 workers lodged a workers’ compensation claim for a falls-related injury and required one or more weeks off work, across all industries Australia-wide, according to Safe Work Australia’s report Work related injuries and fatalities involving a fall from height, October 2013.

The Construction Training Centre CEO Phil Diver said it was for this reason that the Centre chose heights and rope access as the topic for their Safety Series Seminar.

Mick2Three industry experts spoke at the event.

The first presenter was Mick Rustichelli who is a Safety Supervisor with Visionstream and is also their national subject matter expert for high risk activities.  His expertise is with rope access work on telecommunications towers.  Seminar attendees appreciated Mick’s practical demonstration of a rope rescue.

Mick’s segment was followed by a talk from Chris Milne whose Sydney-based company Inov8 Access, specialises in height safety installation and specialised rigging services in the construction industry.  Chris is a board member of the Australian Rope Access Association (ARAA) – one of three associations that represent the interests of the heights and rope access industry.  The others are the Industrial Rope Access Trade Association (IRATA) and the Working at Heights Association (WAHA).

Chris spoke about how the rope access sector has matured in recent times – it’s one that has moved from being adventure-based to a strong and capable community servicing the needs of industries such as construction, telecommunications, mining, oil and gas and many more.

Rope access technicians are highly trained. The ARAA (which Chris represents) offers three levels of training –

Level 1: Basic descent rescue

The level 1 operator is the entry point for workers in the industry. Workers with this qualification may work under the supervision of a level 2 or level 3 ARAA operative depending on the specific site classification.  The level 1 worker shall be able to conduct works on a ‘basic’ site characterised by vertical works.

Level 2: Site SupervisorChris Milne

Following no less than 500 logged rope access hours, an operator may apply for a level 2 operator assessment.  Operators at the completion of a successful level 2 assessment may supervise workers on a ‘basic’ site and may also work under the supervision of a Level 3 Operator on an ‘Advanced’ site.  The level 2 operators skill extends beyond the level one vertical world and into the horizontal dimension. This skill is accompanied by appropriate rescue techniques and administrative controls for this work method.

Level 3:  Ability to do complex rescues in confined space, large towers, under structures

Following no less than 500 logged rope access hours as a level 2, an operator may apply for a level 3 assessment. Operatives at the completion of a successful level 3 assessment  may run projects including those on sites classified as ‘Advanced.’ This operative is versed in not only technical skills but additionally in administrative type controls and requirements for health and safety.  The Level 3 is currently the highest level operator assessed in ARAA and results in opening a worker to higher level skills in the vertical and horizontal planes, rescue and mechanical advantage.

He told the audience that the ability for rope access technicians to come to a worksite with very little gear, enabling them to move around a site more efficiently, has been an important development in the construction industry.

Chris said more work needs to be done with building design to accommodate anchorage systems.

The final speaker was Tom Martin who is Regional Manager with Capital Safety a major supplier of fall protection equipment in Australia.  Tom spoke about recent innovations in fall protection and rescue equipment that help keep workers safe at heights in various environments.Tom Martin

Some points to take away from the seminar …

  • It’s a sector of the industry where a little knowledge can be very dangerous.
  • Operators should undertake continuous and regular training including refresher training.
  • Workers must have access to quality training by a reputable provider (RTO).
  • Operators must have access to the right equipment for the job.
  • Safety is the key

Persons in charge of a business or undertaking (PCBU) have the right to check the quality of equipment and the skills of rope access technicians.  Some things to check include:

  • The physical condition of the equipment used by a rope access technician.
  • The equipment is tagged and within test date.
  • Appropriate preparation is completed including equipment checks and there is a pre-rigged rescue kit available.
  • A PCBU has the right to ask for the technician to review their rescue and retrieval process.
  • It is key to ensure the technician can demonstrate skills and abilities – not only on paper.

Resource documents will be available from the ARAA shortly.

Go to our YouTube channel to view the talks from Mick Ruschtelli and Chris Mile.  And here for the talk from Tom Martin and the panel discussion.

Visit Hot Leasing to learn about CTC’s start of the art high risk work licence and safety training facilities.

CTC to host a free safety seminar about heights and rope access

Falling from heights is the leading cause of death in the construction industry. It’s three times more common in construction than in any other industry, with 1.03 deaths per 100,000 workers. In addition to the high number of fatalities due to falls, each day, 21 workers lodged a workers’ compensation claim for a falls-related injury and required one or more weeks off work, across all industries Australia-wide, according to Safe Work Australia’s report Work related injuries and fatalities involving a fall from height.

The Construction Training Centre CEO Phil Diver said it was for this reason that the Centre chose heights and rope access as the topic for their next Safety Series Seminar.

“We’ve hosted two seminars already which focused on the important issues of Swing Stage Safety and Elevated Work Platform Safety”, Phil said.

“Falling from heights is a huge risk with potentially devastating consequences, so it’s important that anyone involved in any working at height activity understands the dangers”.

“Seminar attendees will hear industry experts explain the dangers associated with rope access and heights work, hear about the latest advancements in height safety equipment and learn the critical steps an operator must take to reduce the likelihood of potentially deadly falls or equipment failure,” he added.

This event has been endorsed by the Working at Height Association, the peak industry body representing the interests of all those involved in providing products, services or advice relating to safe working at height.

Industry experts from the Working at Height Association (WAHA), the Australian Rope Access Association (ARAA) and RTO’s delivering training in heights and rope access will share their knowledge and lead a panel discussion at this free event.

Representatives from small and large construction companies, unions, government, industry organisations, equipment suppliers, entertainment venues and registered training organisations are expected to attend.

“The event is vital for business owners and contractors to understand their workplace health and safety obligations and to learn what to look out for when they engage heights and rope access technicians”.

“These seminars are free.  It’s how we give back to industry and attendees can see first-hand what CTC’s cutting edge Hot Leasing facilities have to offer in working at heights and other safety training”, Phil added.

The CTC Safety Series Seminar, which includes a light breakfast, will be held on Wednesday 27th May from 7:00am to 8:30am.

To register, click here or to find out more information, contact or phone on 3216 6711 before 22nd May.

To learn more about CTC’s Hot Leasing training facilities visit

CTC Safety Series – EWP Safety

Fatalities caused by crush injuries and falls from elevation while operating an elevated work platform continue to be a leading cause of death for construction workers.  For this reason, EWP Safety was the topic chosen for the second CTC Safety Series Seminar held in the Hot Leasing facility on Wednesday, 25th February 2015.

The Seminar was endorsed by the Elevating Work Platform Association of Australia Inc., the peak body responsible for ensuring high standards of equipment, safety and reliability around elevated work platform operations.  We thank them for their support.

Workplace Health & Safety Queensland and the Griffith University Institute for Educational Research also contributed to the discussion.  Industry experts who presented were –

  • Brad Geinitz, Principal Advisor (Construction), Queensland Construction Strategy Unit, Workplace Health & Safety Queensland;
  • Phil Middleton, Training Director, Elevating Work Platform Association of Australia Inc.
  • Dr Tim Mavin, Associate Professor, Griffith Institute for Educational Research

Following are the notes from Mr Middleton’s and Dr Mavin’s presentations.

Managing crush, wearing of harnesses in scissor lifts and compliance around VOC’s

By Phil Middleton, Training Director, Elevating Work Platform Association of Australia Inc.  

Managing Crush

Crush injury is a silent killer, catching the unaware operator with little or no warning. Operators often find themselves working at height in unfamiliar and changing environments and the likelihood of a crushing event can be a real and present danger to the complacent or untrained operator.

Commonly identified situations where crushing hazards are present are:

  • driving the EWP at height around or under structures
  • manoeuvring into or around a confined area
  • rough operation of controls
  • distraction while operating.

We could argue these hazards exist on every work site and operators are aware.  But the fact remains – operators have continued to fall victim to crush injuries. Awareness is only part of the solution and awareness is in fact the first step. There is no single solution to controlling crush hazards on all work sites.

While EWPs are very efficient at providing an elevated working platform, it’s the operating environment that creates the hazard and only sound knowledge and procedures for the operator will manage this issue.

Crushing is preventable when a collective, concerted effort is made by management, workers, manufacturers and regulators. An all-encompassing management strategy should not be centred on only one or two controls.

It is common to hear some sites are requiring secondary guarding being fitted to EWPs in an attempt to manage crush. What is uncommon, is hearing sites require a crush management strategy. Making secondary guarding a mandatory site requirement may help but it is definitely not the solution.

Let’s consider what could make up an effective crush management strategy!

CTC Hot Lease 03
Crushing injuries can occur when operators are caught unaware of potential hazards

Training is the grass roots of the strategy. For example

  • Does the operator have the appropriate licence or training?
  • Is crushing addressed within the training content?
  • If the operator is to demonstrate competence through a VoC assessment, does the assessment address crushing?
  • Is the site safety controller appropriately trained in the equipment being used?
  • Has the most suitable EWP been selected for the task?

Identifying the circumstances of how or when the likelihood of crush may occur and the planning of a rescue procedure is of the utmost importance.  Selecting the correct EWP for the task is vital and in a lot of cases the selection process is far too simplistic.

Commonly, selection is based upon electric vs diesel, 4wd vs 2wd, height and reach when in fact there are far more factors to consider such as platform size, capacity, boom deflection, over run when travelling, smooth controllability, physical dimensions, weight and drive functions.

Consideration must be given in the rescue plan to include the rescuer’s knowledge of how to reactivate controls.

Even the type of secondary guarding must be considered. The common types of guarding are physical barriers and pressure sensitive pads.

Physical barriers offer in most cases the best protection but have a large presence which may limit the operator’s ability to carry out work and in some cases create a crush situation.

Pressure sensitive pads remove the bulkiness but this type of device means the operator must be crushed between the sensors and the structure before it will activate.

Site safety officers, should have relevant training and possess the appropriate skills and knowledge to safely manage crush.

Finally the management of crushing sits firmly with the operator, to minimise the likelihood of a crushing injury, the operator must:

  • Remain vigilant when operating and not allow themselves to be distracted
  • The operator must stay wholly within the basket while the platform is being repositioned or the EWP is moving
  • Never place their body between a hand rail or physical barriers or structure
  • Never climb hand rails
  • Never lean or hunch over the control panel while operating
  • Where necessary, make use of a spotter to assist with guiding the operator.

To minimise the likelihood of crush the operators, must to be aware of how they will manage the risk of crush in their workplace.

Wearing Harnesses in Scissor Lifts

The issue of whether a fall-arrest system is advisable or indeed required, in scissor lifts has been a commonly asked question put to the EWPA office.  For example:

  • Should I be wearing a harness in a scissor lift?
  • The scissor lift I’m operating has harness anchorage points, does that mean I must wear a harness?
  • The site I’m working at requires the wearing of harnesses in scissor lifts, is this a legal requirement?

To clarify the use of the terminology, in the Australian standard for EWP’s, Clause 2550.10 identifies 2 types of height equipment that can be used to help control the risk of injury from catapult in boom type EWP’s. Fall arrest and fall restraint – out of these 2 systems, fall arrest has been the preferred system.

The fall arrest system consists of a full body harness, a lanyard and shock absorber with a maximum length no greater than 2 metres. Commonly the industry refers to both systems as harnesses. For this article “fall arrest system” is referred to as a harness.

The reason this issue continues to raise its head is because many scissor lifts feature anchorage points for the attachment of a lanyard. Safety officers see these anchorage points and believe the operator is required to wear a harness. This reasoning is given weight by these same managers understanding the need for fall arrest harnesses in boom type EWPs.

In a scissor lifts, under normal circumstances they have no identified hazard of being ejected because there is no catapult effect.

Remember, if an EWP of any type tips over, there is no harness that will save you.

Should a harness be worn while operating a scissor lift?

Hence, when being requested or considering whether or not a harness is to be worn in a scissor lift, one must identify what hazard the wearing of a harness is controlling.

To add to the confusion, and depending upon the manufacturer, some operator manuals recommend the wearing of a harness. However it does not state the type of system e.g. fall arrest or restraint or the type of harness such as full body or half and in most cases these manuals are not produced in line with the Australian Standards but with the country of origin.

The requirement of mandatory wearing of a harness when operating a boom type EWP means the EWP must be able to withstand the forces placed upon it when a fall is being arrested. This being the case, the Australian standard requires that the EWP undergoes a fall arrest overturning test. The overturning test determines if the EWP will remain upright, in the event of the occupants being ejected from the basket and swinging freely from the harness.

Operators of scissor type EWPs are not required to wear a fall arrest harness, because there is no identified risk of catapult like that identified with boom types.  There is no requirement as part of Australian design registration for the manufacturers to submit their scissor lifts to any tip-over testing.

Based upon the above reasoning, the EWPA DOES NOT support or recommend the wearing of a fall arrest system when operating a scissor type EWP unless there is an identified risk that can be appropriately controlled by the use of a fall arrest or restraint system and, in the event that a fall has been controlled by the system, the EWP will remain upright.

Verification of Competence

We are all aware of the emergence of Verification of Competencies (VoC’s) over past years.  It could be argued as to its place in industry and to whether or not it is the prime contractors demonstrating due diligence under the Act or are they simply following global company policy?

As we are all aware, and unlike other countries in the world, Australia would have some of the most stringent WHS laws surrounding operation of high risk plant in the workplace.

Having said that, is the very existence of the VoC assessment discrediting our national training frame work?

Does it mean operators, who have attained a HRW licence or have successfully completed Yellow Card training or any other national recognised training, require their competence to be regularly challenged?

The EWPA has remained silent on its position of VoC assessment because of the apparent lack of clear guidelines. The need for a VoC was unclear as to its function or relevance when placed alongside valid reliable training.

A person who has successfully undergone training and has been deemed competent should always be assumed to be competent unless through unsafe actions or the lapse of an extended period of time.

Historically the Association considers if there was any doubt to an operator’s competence, then they should undergo retraining.

In his search to establish how VoC’s fit into our industry, Mr Middleton needed to gather information and points of view from stakeholders. First he needed to clarify what WHS legislation[1] says about the use of VoC’s.

From previous research he was fairly confident that the Act and Regulation did not place a duty upon companies to assess competency of an operator on their work site. Whilst reading through both the Act and the Regulation Mr Middleton was looking for clear links to VoC’s.

His findings were as expected; the Act and Regulation do not mention a requirement or place a duty upon a company to assess competency of a person that has received appropriate training or holds a high risk licence.

What it clearly states under Section 19 of the Act is “the PCBU will provide relevant information, training, instruction and supervision to protect all persons from risks to their health and safety arising from work carried out”.

Operators are faced with a variety of EWP Control Panels.

Regulation 39 states the same but covers more on the type, suitability and relevance of information, training and instruction.

Even though the Act was silent on VoC’s, perhaps it could be found in a code of practice. Unfortunately EWP’s do not have their own code of practice; however there is a code of practice entitled: ‘Moving plant on construction sites’.

Under section 3.3: Controls for the safe operation of plant it states: ‘A system should be adopted to verify that personnel, who are required to hold a certificate of competency, hold a valid certificate and are authorised to use the plant.’

To summarise Mr Middleton’s findings, so far the Act and Regulation do not place a duty upon a company to assess competency of operators that hold high risk work licences or a certificate of competence.

However there is a duty placed upon the company to verify that their licence is valid and relevant to operate the plant they are using.

Even though Mr Middleton felt confident about is legislative findings, he thought he should validate them.  So he approached two regulators asking them to give him some reference that he could use as support to the VoC assessment process. Both were at a loss to be able to concisely reference the requirement of a VoC assessment.

However both agreed any process that could potentially identify or assist in managing risk has merit.

For those who have worked with any of the regulators will understand they are very guarded about making statements unless it’s quoting a creditable document.

Mr Middleton received the following “unofficial draft comment” from one of the regulators in response to the question “what is VoC’s purpose in the workplace”.

VoC’s could work within an organisation, providing that competency was assessed by a competent person, supported with prior qualifications; years of operator experience etc. and applied to certain roles and operations within the group.

VOC’s should not have any portability unless they are used by an RTO, with trained assessors, based on training packages/elements of competency which have been demonstrated or assessed.’

As the VoC assessment process is not driven by legislation, it must be driven by industry. Mr Middleton sought feedback from two large companies; the first response was a statement from a HSE manager from a large principle contractor who said:

‘A large number of companies require some form of verification of competency for plant operators, both where a certificate of competency is issued or not. My experience has been the Principle Contractor obtains some form of verification and does not rely solely on the certificate or training record.’

Seeking an opinion from a different prospective, Mr Middleton put the question to a large company that provides services to principle contractors. The response was this;

‘As they conduct regular training and have a retraining program in place and they keep up to date records of an operator’s qualifications and currency; and even though the company can provide evidence of competence and currency, their employees are still required to undergo VoC to enter a site. What’s more annoying is at the next site they enter, they require the same VoC again.’

They believe that VoC’s not being recognised between different work sites is a waste of time, resources and money.CTC Hot Lease 04

To cover all aspects, Mr Middleton contacted a specialist law firm to check if were there any points of law that places a responsibility upon a company to use a VoC assessment program?

The answer from a legal perspective was that a company as the person conducting a business or undertaking has a primary duty under the Act to ensure so as far as reasonably practicable, that workers and other persons are not exposed to health and safety risks arising from the business or undertaking.

Whilst the Act does not specifically talk about assessing an operator’s competence, in a lawyer’s eyes the words ‘so far as reasonably practicable’, ring loud in their ears. By using a VoC assessment process, they can provide evidence of reasonably practicable and this returns the responsibility back on the operator.

It was also made clear that if a company did not use a VoC process, it would not mean an automatic loss in court. A VoC was a tool to strengthen a defence.

To conclude, there is no legislative requirement to support the VoC process. It appears to be industry driven and has the support of the regulators. From a legal perspective, it is a tool used to strengthen a defence by turning the responsibility back on the operator.

[1] Refers to Work Health & Safety Act 2011 (NSW)


Applying lessons learned from other workplace environments to improve situational awareness of operators

By Dr Tim Mavin, Associate Professor, Griffith Institute for Educational Research

Lessons learned from other workplace environments can be applicable to construction especially with reference to the safe operation of elevating work platforms. Key points to remember are:

  • There is a wide variability in the controls of EWPs. When this is the case there is a high degree of automaticity learnt by the operator. When in a stress situation, early learnt automaticity physical responses tend to be deployed. This may mean that a response on a piece of equipment/plant may be the wrong one.
  • The issue of variability of control panels creates risks. Perhaps counter-intuitively, the most complex and different control panels for operators poses less risk because the automatic response is to ‘stop’. This is because new cognitive processes need to be thought through to get the system to work. This can be explained in the grid below.

    Tim Mavins grid
    Variability of control panels may mean that a response on a piece of equipment/plant may be the wrong one
  • Complexity increases from both left to right and top to bottom. The two areas where extra caution needs to be applied is where control panels might look similar but incorporate different functions and where the function remains the same but the look is different.
  • In such circumstances times spent in familiarisation is essential, as is documentation of this. Audits have shown that where time has been devoted to familiarisation of different control panels (to build new and relevant automaticity) that this is recorded as an activity in only 50% of the time.
  • While technical expertise is important i.e. knowing the function of the panel, the operation of the machine etc., it is non-technical understanding that more often than not contributes to problems arising. Equipment failure is increasingly NOT responsible for incidents.
  • Situational awareness and team-work are two critical elements in safety in the workplace. Given that operators are seldom working alone, the interface with other team members is important e.g. with the spotter.
  • Kinetic melodies play a part in safety. If the team members are working in harmony there is likely to be greater safety. Where the kinetic melodies are not working together i.e. the kinetic melody of the spotter on the ground with the traffic controller is different to the melody between the spotter and the EWP operator then there is potential for an incident. In the same way as an orchestra working in unison creates great harmony but when the members of the orchestra work alone (e.g. when tuning their instruments before playing a piece) there is a discordant sound, so too kinetic melodies in the workplace need to be kept in mind when designing workflow and in tool-box talks and pre-starts to ensure that EWP or other high-risk plant is operated safely.


Give us your feedback on the EWP Safety Seminar

If you attended the CTC Safety Series Seminar on 25th February which focused on EWP Safety, we would love to receive your feedback.  Click on the link below to let us know what you thought, and how we might improve in the future.

Supported by the Elevating Work Platform of Australia. EWPA Logo