Construction Site Safety – How To Minimise Risk


Construction Site Safety

Due to the construction industry being one of the most high-risk workplaces in the world, it is crucial that there are clear plans in place should an emergency occur. Construction workers are exposed to a wide range of risks, as soon as they start work! These risks include; heights, machinery, moving objects, falling objects, slips, trips and falls, noise, vibration, material handling, manual handling, collapsing trenches, hazardous material, electricity and others.

Between 2003-2013… 401 workers died on Australian construction sites*

* Source –

This is a horrific and confronting reminder, this is why the WHS laws and regulation exist and why we need to have emergency procedures in place.

High Risk Work

An employer who works in the high risk construction industry has additional WHS duties. These involve requirements to; Prepare, Comply, and Review Safe Work Method Statements (SMWS) to the principal contractor.

Examples of high risk work;

  • involves a risk of a person falling more than 2 m
  • involves tilt-up or precast concrete
  • is carried out in an area of a workplace where there is any movement of powered mobile plant
  • is carried out on, in or adjacent to a road, railway, shipping lane or other traffic corridor in use by traffic other than pedestrians
  • is carried out in or near a confined space
  • is carried out in or near a shaft or trench deeper than 1.5 m or a tunnel
  • is carried out on or near energised electrical installations or services
  • is carried out on or near pressurised gas mains or piping
  • is carried out on or near chemical, fuel or refrigerant lines
  • involves demolition of an element of a structure that is load-bearing
  • involves demolition of an element of a structure that is related to the physical integrity of the structure
  • involves, or is likely to involve, disturbing asbestos
  • involves structural alteration or repair that requires temporary support to prevent collapse
  • involves the use of explosives
  • is carried out in an area that may have a contaminated or flammable atmosphere
  • is carried out on a telecommunication tower
  • is carried out in areas with artificial extremes of temperature
  • is carried out in or near water or other liquid that involves a risk of drowning
  • involves diving work

Ways To Minimise Risk

Some ways to minimise risk on site are;

  • Create a risk management culture
  • Identify hazards
  • Manage hazards using hierarchy of control
  • Follow your company safe work method statement (SWMS)
  • Ensure all workers are competent and trained in the task they are doing
  • Clear communication
  • Clear signage throughout site
  • Maintain entry and exit points
  • Site security
  • Compliant storage of hazardous materials
  • Monitor environmental conditions
  • First aid training & resources
  • Provide personal protective equipment (PPE)
  • Conduct a WHS audit
  • Implement a first aid alert call point system
  • Implement an evacuation system
  • Implement an emergency plan, should an accident occur

Hierarchy Of Control

One of the most effective methods in reducing risk once a hazard is identified is apply the Hierarchy Of Control (in order of effectiveness);

  • Eliminate – remove the hazard/risk altogether
  • Substitute – replace with an alternative method
  • Isolate – separate the hazard from the workers
  • Engineer Controls – physical changes
  • Administrative Controls – e.g. training, signs
  • PPE – Personal Protective Equipment e.g. wear eye protection, gloves etc.


Although safety is a huge risk during the construction of our national infrastructure, it can be greatly minimised by having effective WHS procedures in place. Ensure to comply with your company policy and get a qualified WHS auditor to assess all aspects of your site safety, to make sure everybody has the best chance of getting home safely from work!