Construction workers and employers can now access a guide on safe prefabricated concrete element use thanks to a guide released by Safe Work Australia (SWA) in September 2019. The guide aims to create awareness around the health and safety risks surrounding concrete structures — such as walls, columns, flooring, facade units or pipes — created offsite and provide ways to control those risks. According to the guide, prefabricated concrete elements’ size and mass make them vulnerable to collapse, putting anyone around them at risk of serious injury or death. To help mitigate this, SWA has provided information on safe structural design, manufacture, handling and installation.
The guide advises ensuring concrete elements, inserts and temporary support structures can withstand all handling, transport, erection, wind and construction loads, and that workers have access to detailed drawings and documentation describing the structures’ mass, dimensions and centre of gravity, insert specifications, erection sequence, orientation and lifting and rigging procedures, among other details. It also outlines workers’ and employers’ health and safety duties — according to model workplace health and safety laws — and references construction and concrete-related standards, codes of practice and information sheets. SWA said the use of prefabricated concrete elements has become “increasingly popular in recent years” and it is important workers and employers are aware of the risks associated with this type of work. The full guide can be found via SWA’s website. State work health and safety regulators can also be contacted for more information on working with prefabricated concrete.
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