Sometimes our franchisee builder's have a SafeWork inspector attending their construction sites. The unannounced visit can be instigated/triggered due to a complaint by a neighbor or the principal certifier or a contractor. The building inspection can be cause of significant stress for the franchisee but the reason we are known as the best building franchise in Australia is that we help the franchise owner establish all the business systems required to ensure full compliance with the law and provide a safe building experience for trades and contractors.
The following items may be raised by the SafeWork inspector as being rooms for improvement "Improvement Notices".
- Lack of COVID-19 management plan. Specifically a detailed guide for all trades and suppliers relating to the location of cleaning products, notes about the maximum number of people permitted on the site (based upon 4m2 rule?), and general social distancing requirements.
- Lack of COVID-19 QR sign on code in a prominent location.
- Lack of alcohol based sterilizer located periodically around the site and specifically within the toilets.
- Toilet not sufficiently clean.
- Various trip hazards (off-cuts of timber and steel from nogs, tie down brackets and some pieces of offcut flashing).
- Meterbox (switchboard) not being suitable/appropriate for use as a construction/demolition power supply.
- Scaffold not sufficiently safe (lack of ties back to the building, not enough planks at the required heights between levels, no access hatch to the ladder accesses).
- Lack of a site sign on the front fence identifying the primary contractor.
- Lack of a site sign on the front fence identifying the principal certifier.
- Site not sufficiently tidy (piles of rubbish in each room that was awaiting picking up and putting in the bin).
- Foam debris making its way onto the neighbours property (from recently cut Dulux Exsulite board).
- Individual on the site without appropriate PPE gear or a construction white card (this was me, I called past in the morning to see if anyone was on site and was wearing thongs 1m inside the construction fence when he pulled up).
- Site not adequately secured (the trades had removed a number of clamps from the external fences as they didn't know the gate code).
Workcover inspectors have a lot of building experience and need to respond to a public persons concerns, and are usually incredibly reasonable and take a more consultative/advice capacity than a "out to fine" capacity. The franchisor is happy to answer any and all specific questions you may have in relation to each "room for improvement" that can arise to benefit our builder network.
The items below are all covered in the Site Safety Management Plan provided with your franchise agreement:
- COVID-19 management plans are not the purview of SafeWork Australia, but are within the purview of SafeWork NSW. Supposedly they are very passionate in reminding builders that a construction site is no different to an office or rest stop and should have sufficient signage and provisions for "reducing the spread".
- Each state has its own unique requirements for trades/suppliers on construction sites. In some states the wearing of masks is mandatory and in others it isn't.
- Your franchise fee gives you access to an amazing collection of technical guides and downloadable content that builder's are welcome to use/display that covers off the base requirements when meeting your COVID-19 obligations. Specifically QR sign on codes, hand cleaning guides etc.
- Relying on your toilet hire company to actually clean the toilet may not be appropriate. Builder's should be asking the cleaning company to advise us by email or by completing a sheet within the toilet going forward identifying the date and time servicing has been completed moving forward. We pay for fortnightly cleans but I do not know with any confidence when the last clean was undertaken.
- Trades do not clean up after themselves. It doesn't matter that we pay them a $/m2 rate for sweeping and tidying. They will happily throw rubbish from the second storey wherever they like with little to no recourse.
- Meterboxes when used for construction or demolition purposes must comply with a specific Australian Standard being AS3012:2010 (the requirements within are above and beyond the scope of AS3000 which is the standard electricians bible). Having read SafeWork NSW's advice sheet on AS3012:2010 I can say with almost 100% certainty every single meterbox installed in a clients home is not compliant for use as a construction power supply. I will post below in the comments a copy of the document and the reasons why.
- Scaffold companies have a huge amount of risk and responsibility to ensure peoples safety and in some instances it is practically impossible to be both compliant and practical, especially with multi-level construction. Having a good scaffold company (like the one we use) who is nimble and can respond to a potential issue within 30 minutes was the difference between a fine and a prohibition (do not use) notice.
- SafeWork NSW only look at the front fence, not the first panel of the side fence where our contractor contact sign was based. Even having walked past it several times...
- The principal certifier won't install his own sign, he will turn up and do his first inspection and leave it in the toilet and not tell anyone and expect the principal contractor to install it for the certifier.
- Frequent collection of rubbish/debris is necessary. Putting it all in a single pile in the corner of the site adjacent to the construction fence (without a skin or panels enclosing it) is not appropriate storage and wet weather is no excuse for having small piles of rubbish on the job (trying to keep them out of the water)
- Dulux Exsulite makes a hell of a mess when the contractor engaged decides its appropriate not to follow any of the health and safety requirements in the installation manual (aka cut without a saw with a vacuum built-in and didn't wear any dust masks).
- Do not let people on the job wearing thongs (or other inappropriate PPE) and resist the urge to do so even in the early morning hours as you could have a neighbour next door waiting to catch you on camera, or have a SafeWork NSW inspector turn up at that very moment. As it turns out there is a $600 personal fine they can issue for being in breach of your white card requirements.
- Safe work method statements are a MUST. Do not let anyone onto the job site without a SITE SPECIFIC safe work method statement (SWMS). It is ok to use generic templates as long as the rear section of the document is completed in some way with pen adding a site risk. All you need is 1 handwritten particular risk and it becomes site specific.
- SafeWork NSW offer a free advisory visit/workshop service where a SafeWork NSW inspector will come to your site and offer a free review of anything and everything. They will discuss potential non-compliance issues and ways you can generally do things in a safer manner. By arranging this free review you may be eligible for a SafeWork NSW small business rebate of up to $500 to buy and install "equipment" to make their workplace safer.
- PPE requirements noted on the builders site signs are enforceable. If you include a note on your standard construction signs that says hard hats must be worn and then SafeWork NSW turns up on the site and finds neither you, nor your trades are wearing hard hats, they can fine everyone on the spot. Generic construction signs that do not cover any more than is absolutely required is a lot safer for the builder.
- A construction franchise will enhance your business but you will still need to be onsite almost every day picking up odds and ends and taking photos etc.