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AfPA prioritising industry safety in 2023

white helmet is in the hands of road construction engineers.

The Australian Flexible Pavement Association (AfPA) has renewed its commitment to comprehensive industry safety for 2023, in alignment with a set of national safety priorities founded by the National Health & Safety Committee (NHSC).

The four key themes for 2023 include separation of people and traffic; separation of people and plant; RCS (respirable crystalline silica), silica, and dust management; and workplace mental health.

AfPA, alongside the NHSC, will aim to harmonise industry safety standards and practices across the country to establish an improved road network that protects road workers, reduces emissions, and improves conditions for motorists alike.

Separation of people and traffic aims to minimise risk caused to workers on foot in and around worksites by influencing driver behaviour and regulating speed levels. This priority will see AfPA and the NHSC collaborate with industry bodies and road authorities to develop a national standard of leading practice to keep workers safe.

AfPA’s separation of people and plant strategic priority aims for safer worksites by keeping workers safe from heavy plant and equipment. This is to be achieved through advocating for increased industry commitment to training and risk mitigation on maintenance and construction projects. Support for members to be provided through the development of worker/plant interaction scenarios that detail activities, plant and workers involved, specifics of when incidents occur happen and existing typical controls available to manage risk. The establishment of AfPA’s Worker on Foot training scheme will be a cornerstone of this commitment.

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AfPA’s RCS, silica, and dust management strategic priority aims to address the emerging issue of this risk to workers and the environment arising from road work. AfPA and the NHSC will seek to assess and measure worker exposure levels to RCS dust during road profiling. The strategy also advocates for the adoption of new operational procedures and materials such increasing the use of Warm Mix Asphalt (WMA) as a means of reducing fuming impacts to staff and emissions impacts to the environment.

The final strategic priority, addressing workplace mental health, will see AfPA seek to assess the overall mental health challenges the industry faces and work alongside relevant bodies to create more mental health friendly environments. This priority is seeking to support industry members in reducing stigma and adopting management strategies, that encourage proactive discussion around general wellbeing.

“Our industry’s value and importance to Australian infrastructure has arguably never been clearer than in the wake of a year of road damaging events, however, being busy does not mean we can afford to halt improvement,” said NHSC Chair Rory Bracken.

“We look forward to working closely with regulatory bodies and industry members to work toward these crucial priorities.

“Far and away the biggest challenge and also opportunity our industry faces is greater alignment and consistency in the manner in which we apply safety standards and practices nationally. It is AfPA and the NHSC’s focus in 2023 to lay the foundations for improving the overall base-line standards for workers, the work itself and for the wider environment.”

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