There are many benefits to choosing a trade career, including decent pay, no HECS debt and the potential to work outdoors. Sadly there are also risks. With asbestos in one in every three Australian homes (https://asbestosawareness.com.au/asbestos-for-tradies), tradies who work on domestic properties are more likely than the average person to be exposed to dangerous fibres. These fibres can cause asbestosis, lung cancer and mesothelioma. Recently other “dust diseases” such as silicosis have been on the rise among tradespeople in Australia (https://www.shine.com.au/blog/asbestos-law/silicosis-dangers-reconstituted-stone).
Other safety risks for tradies include slips, trips, falls, back injuries, transport accidents and electric shocks. To find out more visit https://knowrisk.com.au/insight/articles/five-common-health-risks-for-tradies.
Although some of the following information is relevant to people in all professions, it’s addressed to tradies in particular due to the physical and sometimes hazardous nature of the work. Read on to find out more about how to stay safe in the workplace and what to do if you become ill or injured regardless.
Most common trades in Australia
According to a News.com.au article published in 2017, plumbers and electricians are the highest paid trades in Australia. Victorian plumbers charge the highest hourly rate in the country. (https://www.news.com.au/finance/work/careers/plumbers-and-electricians-top-australias-tradie-rich-list/news-story/6a20a3de0fec587aedeced9b52fe71e5).
Other common trades include mechanic, carpenter, bricklayer, plasterer and roof tiler. Training Services NSW has published a fairly comprehensive list: https://www.training.nsw.gov.au/skills_recognition/trade/trade_list.html.
What precautions should be in place?
According to WorkCover Queensland, WHS legislation requires everyone who conducts a business to manage all workplace health and safety risks. There’s a four-step process for doing this effectively:
- Identify hazards
- Assess risks
- Control risks
- Review risk controls (https://www.worksafe.qld.gov.au/injury-prevention-safety/managing-risks/managing-risk).
If you run a business, don’t allow your employees to work with asbestos unless they’re properly trained, or unless it’s under prescribed circumstances.
If you’re unsure whether or not your workplace contains asbestos, assume it does and hire a licensed asbestos assessor to find out for sure.
If the building was constructed after 31 December 1989 and no asbestos was found or is likely to be present, an asbestos register is not required.
For more information call 1800 272 378 or visit asbestosawareness.com.au.
Slips, trips and falls
For detailed information on preventing slips, trips and falls visit https://www.worksafe.qld.gov.au/injury-prevention-safety/workplace-hazards/slips-trips-and-falls.
Businesses must identify the risks of all chemicals on site and manage their transportation, storage, use and disposal: https://www.worksafe.qld.gov.au/injury-prevention-safety/hazardous-chemicals.
There are ways to minimise the risk of back injury at work while performing physical tasks. These include proper lifting technique, asking for assistance with heavier lifts, stretching before and after work and adjusting your car seat to the upright position (https://northernspinal.com.au/back-injuries-life-tradie).
What are my rights in the workplace?
Safeworkaustralia.gov.au has a fact sheet called ‘Working safely in Australia information sheet’: https://www.safeworkaustralia.gov.au.
According to the sheet, your boss has to do all they can to ensure your job doesn’t cause you injury or illness. They must also have worker’s compensation insurance for you if you’re hurt at work.
Your boss also has to show you how to perform your job safely, have the right tools and safety equipment available and not ask you to do anything that requires a special licence.
You also have a responsibility to ensure a safe workplace by not doing anything that would cause you or anyone else to get hurt.
How can Shine Lawyers help?
Have you suffered an injury at work due to your workplace not following proper safety procedures? Shine Lawyers can assist you. Our workplace injury compensation lawyers have a “no win, no fee” policy, so you don’t have to pay us anything unless we win your case: https://www.shine.com.au/service/workers-compensation/workplace-injury-lawyers.
For asbestos compensation claims visit https://www.shine.com.au/service/dust-disease-compensation/asbestos-compensation-claims-lawyers/.
For silicosis compensation claims visit https://www.shine.com.au/service/dust-disease-compensation/silicosis-compensation/.
Written by Shine Lawyers on . Last modified: August 17, 2018.