Doesn’t pay to risk it

It’s bet­ter to be safe than sorry, re­ports

The Courier-Mail - Career One - - Classifieds -

EM­PLOY­ERS need to urge their ap­pren­tices not to take short-cuts or risks and keep a ‘safety first’ at­ti­tude at all times.

Ap­pren­tices are also re­minded not to try to im­press their boss by push­ing them­selves be­yond their limit, ei­ther by go­ing be­yond their ex­pe­ri­ence or phys­i­cal abil­ity on the day.

Safe Work Aus­tralia fig­ures show that work­ers aged 15 to 24 years are in­jured at work more of­ten than any other age-group.

There were 48.8 in­juries for ev­ery mil­lion hours worked, com­pared with 37 in­juries for those aged 45 to 54.

Young work­ers are most likely to be in­jured by hit­ting, be­ing hit, or get­ting a cut from an ob­ject, which ac­counts for 36 per cent of all in­juries.

Group train­ing or­gan­i­sa­tion PEER VEET re­ports many ap­pren­tices work at small to medium en­ter­prises, which mostly have good health and safety sys­tems in place, but of­ten do not have the time or man­power to con­stantly re­mind young work­ers about safety pro­ce­dures.

Work Health and Safety man­ager Mal­colm Bax­ter says it has about 450 ap­pren­tices in the elec­tri­cal, plumb­ing, data com­mu­ni­ca­tions and re­frig­er­a­tion and air­con­di­tion­ing fields hosted out to smaller busi­nesses that by the na­ture of the work can be a high-risk en­vi­ron­ment.

He is call­ing on em­ploy­ers to en­sure safety pro­ce­dures are kept up-to-date, to su­per­vise ap­pren­tices ap­pro­pri­ately, and re­mind them no work should be car­ried out un­su­per­vised or un­li­censed.

“Our in­jury rate is rel­a­tively low – most in­juries we have are small and mi­nor, cuts and scrapes. Get a cou­ple of stitches and back to work,” he says.

“(How­ever), there is a risk out there to ap­pren­tices be­cause they are young, pre­dom­i­nantly young males . . . who think they are bul­let-proof and gen­er­ally known as risk­tak­ers.

“The chal­lenge for their su­per­vi­sor is to take the en­thu­si­asm but make sure they don’t put them­selves at risk.

“There are th­ese guys who will take a short-cut and cause in­jury, and that’s what we’re try­ing to stamp out.”

He says ap­pren­tices who achieve their com­pe­ten­cies quickly can be­gin to feel they are up to the task to work un­su­per­vised or take short-cuts that can lead to in­jury.

They also may want to prove them­selves to their host em­ployer by push­ing them­selves, such as in hot weather when they should be tak­ing more fre­quent drink and rest breaks.

“Ap­pren­tices per­ceive if they do (take breaks or slow down), the host em­ployer won’t like it,” Bax­ter says.

“They might not look af­ter them­selves from a healthy life­style per­spec­tive . . . then fa­tigue hits them, leav­ing them at risk of in­jury.”

Ap­pren­tices also are cau­tioned against car­ry­ing out any work un­su­per­vised, such as work for friends out of hours, be­fore they be­come qual­i­fied.

AP­PREN­TICES must speak up if they feel they are in a dan­ger­ous sit­u­a­tion and let qual­i­fied trades­peo­ple or their boss de­cide how to con­tinue.

That is the ad­vice of Mike Telford, man­ag­ing di­rec­tor of CMA Elec­tri­cal and Data, who can­not stress enough how safety is the most im­por­tant thing on work sites.

“All our staff – ap­pren­tices and trades­men – are em­pow­ered with the abil­ity to stop what­ever they are do­ing if they don’t think it’s safe un­til they have con­tacted us,” Telford says.

He says there is reg­u­larly pres­sure from clients to get the job done quickly.

“(But) if you think it’s un­safe, or even if you’re not sure – ask,” he says.

“We see sit­u­a­tions where safety is lip ser­vice, to ‘get the job done, son’, and with ap­pren­tices, they don’t al­ways

SAFETY FIRST: Mike Telford with third year elec­tri­cian ap­pren­tice, Tom Blight. Pic­ture:

KERYN STEVENS feel they can say things.

“When a client will not change their re­quire­ments, there’s fines when you don’t get the job done, so ev­ery­one goes re­ally hard and that’s when ac­ci­dents hap­pen.

“That’s why we try to make sure – see some­thing, say some­thing, do some­thing.

“It’s not worth the job for you to get hurt.”

1. ELEC­TRI­CIANS Elec­tric shock is one of the big­gest risks to elec­tri­cians, as their work cen­tres around elec­tri­cal sys­tems. 3.3 RE­FRIG­ER­A­TION & AIRCONDITIONINGA MECHANICSM Th­ese me­chan­ics work on elec­tri­cal sys­tems, and at heights.

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