Safety processes and PPE for carpenters
Being a carpenter is one of the most dangerous building and construction trades due to diverse work environments and exposure to many other trades and disciplines that carpenters are required to coordinate from a Work Health and Safety perspective.
Jack of All Trades
Executive Officer – Safety, of Master Builders NSW, David Solomon offers Pro Choice Safety Gear his insight. He notes that there is often a natural progress for a carpenter who shows great leadership and coordinating skills. They tend to become a leading hand, supervisor and foreman or site manager.
“Usually as a chippie, their contract covers more trades than carpentry work, such as organising concrete placement, formwork, framing, cladding, joinery and site setup to name a few,” Solomon said. He added that carpenters often deal with many sub-contractor related questions.
“They might be on a roof advising on access for the tiler… a confined space to advise on drainage, underfloor heating or pest control access. They might be outside organising for service providers to gain access to the site or they might be organising the connection of permanent power, sewerage or water.”
Dangers of the Job
However Solomon said that of the many dangers chippies face, working at heights is the most common and the most serious.
“Chippies should receive adequate working at heights training, use fall arrest systems and hold the knowledge to recognise the hazards and risks that require attention”.
How to Minimise Risks
He said that training is crucial across all parts of the job. Apart from that, it is also basic to provide proper Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) to workers. This includes, but not limited to – safety boots, gloves, goggles, ear protection and high-vis clothing all specific to the application.
Solomon stressed that any PPE must be suitable for the work and related hazards. It must fit, be comfortable, well-maintained, hygienic and in good working order.
Workers must use the PPE “so far as is reasonably practicable” and Employers must also provide information and training on its correct storage and use.
Another key safety consideration for carpenters is fail-safe communications for situations such as working in confined spaces. Others include communicating between the tower crane driver and dogman, working in remote areas or for communication on larger sites.
Heat Stress Management and Sun Protection
Regarding managing heat stress, he pushes scheduling work for cooler periods of the day such as early morning or late afternoon.
Where this is not possible, workers need access to plain drinking water and consume at least 200mL every 15-20 minutes. Moreover, avoiding energy drinks (which have been banned on some sites) and caffeinated drinks which can have a diuretic affect.
Realistic workloads, shaded rest areas, frequent breaks and worker monitoring should also be in place and UV protection also offered.
“Workers should be provided clothing with a UPF 50+ rating such as loose shirts with long sleeves and collars as well as long pants. Broad spectrum sunscreen, broad brimmed hats and sunglasses which meet Australian Standards for UV protection can also be worn,” Solomon said.
For those who wish to learn more, Master Builders New South Wales offers their Supersafe course. It is a program with the Construction Safety Alliance (CSA) and SafeWork NSW. It is a two-day Building and Construction Industry-specific WHS training course targeted at construction site supervisors.