Date issued: 2012-07-18
Research shows metal fabrication workers suffer work-related injuries that are almost seven times more serious than those in the manufacturing industry, prompting a state-wide audit of these workplaces.
From today, Workplace Health and Safety Queensland (WHSQ) inspectors will work closely with metal fabrication companies that have a history of high injury rates, to improve safety and educate employers and workers about workplace risks.
The safety audits also aim to reduce fatalities in the industry, with a number of deaths each year.
Metal fabrication workshops face a range of typical hazards—unguarded equipment, welding and grinding, working in and around mobile machinery and loading and unloading product.
Over half of all injuries are musculoskeletal, caused by lifting, carrying and putting down objects—handling raw materials, loading pallets and using equipment in the fabrication process.
The important message for metal fabrication workers is that these risks can be controlled; and this will be good for workers and for business.
WHSQ inspectors will work with 80 small, 80 medium and 80 large businesses in a phased campaign over the next 12 months to overcome issues unique to each workplace.
Inspectors will visit each company a number of times to help owners and managers address the hazards or risks identified.
Some businesses will be invited to information sessions on how to manage hazardous manual task risks. These sessions will be based on the PErforM (Participative Ergonomics for Manual Tasks) program and will include advice and resources to help manage issues like plant guarding. More information about PErforM workshops is available on the WHSQ website.
Workshops are also available for smaller businesses to help owners improve safety. Search for ’Safety workshops’ at www.worksafe.qld.gov.au
In addition, WHSQ has a benchmarking tool to help businesses compare their safety systems against similar sized businesses in the same industry. The tool can be found by searching for the ‘online safety benchmarking tool’ on the website.
Metal fabrication business owners could also find the ‘virtual factory’ on the WHSQ website useful. Users can enter a factory and work through a range of typical hazards and risks in metal fabrication.
There is information and practical solutions around workplace layout and design, welding, plant guarding, noise, housekeeping, lighting, workplace amenities and storage. It can be found by searching for ‘Manufacturing’ then selecting the ‘Metal fabrication tool’ on the website.
For more on making your workplace safer, call the WHS Infoline on 1300 369 915.
Media contact: 3224 6675