The Dangers of Working in Heavy Industries

Most of us do not work in heavy industry but have an idea that it’s probably more dangerous than what we’re used to. Being a teacher, for example, might ruin your sanity, but accidents involving heavy machinery or chemical spills are minimal. Despite the differences in output, every heavy industry has one thing in common: the high possibility of work-related injuries and fatalities. According to the Construction Industry Profile, 401 workers died on construction sites in Australia.

The risk of injury in industries such as mining, construction and manufacturing must be taken seriously by the employers and business owners for both moral and legal reasons.

Common causes of injuries in heavy industry worksites

  • Chemicals

When it comes to manufacturing worksites, dangerous chemicals are used in various stages of the production process. Employees may be working with a variety of hazardous substances like refrigerant gases, diesel fuel, and other flammable liquids. These chemicals can cause fires, explosions, and produce dangerous fumes and reactions if not handled and stored correctly by trained staff. To reduce the risk of exposure, chemicals require clear labelling, with safety instructions posted nearby for precautions. For the storage and transport of hazardous substances and combustible liquids, the use of intermediate bulk container (IBC) bunded pallets restricts leaks and spills from contaminating larger areas.

  • Falls

According to Safe Work Australia, the majority of construction fatalities are from falls from ladders, mobile ramps and scaffolding. Health and Safety regulations provide strict rules on securing temporary work platforms and access routes to reduce falls. Helmets are also mandatory to prevent head injuries. When workers are operating at different levels above ground, encourage employees to communicate through radio or by other methods to ensure clear procedures, avoiding potential misunderstanding resulting in an accident.

  • Heavy machinery

Operating heavy equipment requires skill, understanding of potential risks, and what to do during a malfunction or accident. Equipment shall always be well-guarded and only operated by those who undergo proper training. Consult the manufacturer’s operating guidebook and incorporate safe practices into the company’s safety strategy and guidelines.

  • Lack of visibility

Industrial buildings and construction sites without proper lighting create a potential hazard for employees. Without adequate lighting, the possibility of vehicle accidents increases. Examples include: damage from forklifts hitting stock or tipping storage items; hitting workers operating in the same area on construction sites, or heavy plant crashing with other vehicles when crossing public highways. As well as direct lighting, the employer is required in most situations to provide workers with hi-vis safety jackets so vehicle and plant operators can see them.

  • Absence of proper guidance and training

Worker in protective uniform in production hall

Most accidents are avoidable if the company establishes clear and safe operating procedures, enforce regulations with designated safety officers and provide adequate emergency response procedures. Establishing a site access system prevents unauthorised personnel from entering the workspace and causing a potential safety issue.

Workers in heavy industries do a tough job under challenging conditions. Although often considered an unglamorous sector, the output from heavy industry benefits us all. We owe the workers consideration for their health and wellbeing since we wouldn’t enjoy the comfortable lives we have today without their efforts.