RMIT's Professor Helen Lingard joined an expert panel, organised by Safe Work Australia (SWA), to discuss how companies in construction supply chains can improve work health and safety outcomes.
The virtual seminar, ‘Construction – work design in complex supply chains’, provided an excellent opportunity for RMIT's Centre for Construction Work Health and Safety Research to engage with industry stakeholders and forge links between industry practice, regulation and research expertise.
Joining Lingard on the expert panel were Mark McCabe, ACT Work Safety Commissioner and Head of WorkSafe ACT, and Dr Ross Trethewy, Head of Environment, Health and Safety at Lendlease Building.
Held 13 October, the seminar explored how the health and safety of construction workers benefits from the safe design of construction projects.
The panel discussed a range of topics, including the nature of risks on construction sites, prerequisites for achieving technology based solutions to risks, and the importance of skilled supervisors in initiating and maintaining safety conversations.
Panel members emphasised that the early involvement of project stakeholders in the design stage is essential for a project to be safe to build and safe to use.
As Lingard observed, design in construction is socially and technically complex. Therefore, both perspectives must be managed simultaneously.
She also highlighted the importance of construction workers’ input to managing work health and safety, which challenges the industry’s traditional top-down approach.
“The workforce is a rich source of knowledge about how to do things better, how to redesign and improve work practices,” she said.
“I think we need to look at engaging the workforce more, and good supervision is a critical part of that.”
The seminar was part of SWA’s Virtual Seminar Series broadcasted via SWA’s website, where questions to panelists are invited from both studio and online audiences.