Roads Review: Worker safety

This month, we asked the industry decision-makers, ‘What more can the industry be doing to ensure the safety of workers on infrastructure projects?’

Peter Colacino, Chief of Policy & Research, Infrastructure AustraliaPeter Colacino, Chief of Policy & Research, Infrastructure Australia

Ensuring the safety of workers is rightly a focus for the industry, however we need to stretch our thinking beyond physical safety to mental health and wellbeing. MATES in Construction have identified construction workers are six times more likely to die from suicide than a workplace injury. An epidemic that costs the country $1.5 billion per annum. As highlighted in our Delivering Outcomes report, creating an infrastructure sector that protects and promotes the health, safety and wellbeing of workers is not only an ethical and legal obligation but vital in improving productivity, performance, and innovation. Senior leaders are responsible for prioritising the wellbeing, as well as the health and safety of their teams. Greater priority and investment should be given to investment in the practices and skills that are needed to support wellbeing for people and the supply chain. To attract the skills the sector needs, the industry must create not only a physically safe environment for workers, but also a mentally safe one.


Mark Piorkowski, Executive Director QLD/NT, AfPAMark Piorkowski, Executive Director QLD/NT, AfPA

The flexible pavements industry is committed to continual improvement in road worker safety. Our current initiatives include: Rolling out a national harmonised worker on foot training, utilising technology to stop on-site plant impacting workers; new national guidance on managing silica dust focused on protecting long-term health and advocating for speed enforcement on roadworks sites. However, the biggest risk to roadworkers is exposure to moving traffic. To mitigate this, clients need to show political fortitude in embracing the use of road closures and traffic diversions. This leads to safer work environments and higher quality roads, as well as reduced construction times and carbon emissions.


Sarah Bachmann, Chief Executive Officer, National PrecastSarah Bachmann, Chief Executive Officer, National Precast

Infrastructure is one of the industry’s sectors where the use of offsite manufactured products is commonplace. For good reason – sites are safer. The reduced site congestion and fewer materials deliveries from manufacturing elements like bridge beams, pipes, culverts and the like offsite, then erecting – rather than constructing from scratch – delivers flow-on safety benefits. Additionally, AS 3850 Prefabricated concrete elements, Part Three Civil Construction, requires that every erection has an engineered erection design. When combined with appropriate worker training and supervision, properly designed installations will by nature, be safer.


This article was originally published in the July edition of our magazine. To read the magazine, click here.

If you or someone at your organisation is an industry leader and would like to be a part of this monthly column in 2022, please get in touch with Editor, Mike Wheeler: 



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