How to rewire onsite safety for electrical workers

Fergus

By Dan Pollard, Founder, Fergus
Wednesday, 22 May, 2024


How to rewire onsite safety for electrical workers

Tradies know that onsite safety is critical to the success of a project — but it’s also the difference between life and death or serious injury. More than 1850 injury fatalities have happened in Aussie workplaces in the past decade, while one in 12 workers (8%) have made serious workers comp claims involving more than one week of working time lost.1 For sparkies in particular, working with live electricity introduces significant risk, making a high level of onsite safety a no-brainer to protect workers.

But the risk to Aussie sparkies isn’t just the electricity itself. The National Skills Commission found that 67% of electricians’ jobs were in shortage2, but that the role of electrician was in the top 20 most in-demand occupations, as well as having a longer training gap3. In layman’s terms, this means there will likely be a larger number of newer sparkies onsite as Australia works to fill its electrical skills shortage, and there’s a serious need to keep sites safe for budding electricians.

There’s no substitute for proper training and education around the onsite safety risks to electricians. However, emerging technology — such as the introduction of digital safety certificates and job management software — has started to improve how tradies manage their administrative duties. Although digital safety certificates have been around for some time, the issue is that the electrical trades have been slow to adopt them and be vigilant about completing them.

When it comes to safety, these digital tools can’t stop a live wire from zapping a worker, but they can certainly make it easier for electricians to check off critical safety steps before starting work. Importantly, they can go a long way towards ensuring both fresh-faced and more experienced sparkies get their safety paperwork in order before stepping a boot onsite.

A Safe Work Method Statement (SWMS) should be one of the most important documents for Aussie tradies, as it is really a legal blueprint for onsite safety. An SWMS plays a big role in protecting the health and wellbeing of sparkies and other tradies onsite, outlining all the steps and precautions workers must take to perform high-risk work safely.

As the world becomes increasingly digitised, paper-based documentation has much less of a place onsite. Instead, digital safety certificates have become more common, helping Australian sparkies make the move towards a more streamlined and efficient digital format and away from easy-to-lose, paper-based documentation.

Sparkies can ensure that all safety measures are reviewed and met before starting a job by completing the digital safety checklists. They can systematically go through each item on the checklist while filling out digital certificates, simultaneously growing a deeper awareness of potential hazards or existing dangers at a worksite while also ticking the box to meet industry regulations. Plus, electrical workers of all experience levels can make more informed decisions that prioritise their safety, and that of their mates onsite, by assessing potential onsite safety risks methodically.

It’s worth noting that digital safety certificates are not the only administrative measure helping to boost safety measures on risky job sites. Smart job management software complements the use of digital safety certificates, giving electricians and their support team access to a solution that manages all aspects of job administration, including the storage and organisation of digital safety certificates. This means that, no matter how big or small a sparky’s team is, they can easily access previous safety certificates, track their completion of safety checklists for current jobs and monitor the safety status of ongoing projects. Most importantly, it means that they have access to essential safety information at all times for compliance and protocols.

Beyond digital documentation, job management software also has a few other benefits linked to workplace safety, such as:

  • Simplifying communication between team members. Sparkies can share safety-related information and updates in real time using the software to make sure that everyone onsite is aware of any potential hazards. This helps to address any safety concerns that may be flagged during a project.
  • Automating notifications to schedule safety training sessions and reminding electricians to complete their safety checklists. This ultimately helps to reduce the admin burden for sparkies.
     

Simplifying safety-related admin and thorough preparation with digital safety checklists means electricians can focus more on their core tasks while keeping compliant with safety regulations.

It can be easy to become complacent on a job site, especially when paperwork becomes overwhelming and distracts workers from the risks, but onsite safety should never take a holiday.

1. https://data.safeworkaustralia.gov.au/insights/key-whs-stats-2023
2. https://www.jobsandskills.gov.au/sites/default/files/2022-01/34%20Electro%20%26%20Telecoms%20Trades.pdf
3. https://www.jobsandskills.gov.au/publications/towards-national-jobs-and-skills-roadmap-summary/current-skills-shortages

Plumber-turned-tech-entrepreneur Dan Pollard founded Fergus in 2012. Having done the hard yards as a plumber for over 20 years, he was determined to come up with an easier way to manage the end-to-end operations of his trades business. Dan has a passion for helping tradies realise their true potential and a wealth of knowledge when it comes to what it takes to run a successful trades business.

Top image credit: iStock.com/Kobus Louw

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