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  • 25 Jan 2021 9:24 AM | Anonymous

    The question front and centre for many is: can and should my business make COVID-19 vaccinations mandatory for all staff (and potentially clients/customers)?

    A Contentious COVID-19 Vaccine

    Almost a year after Australia’s first confirmed case of COVID-19, the nation is well on its way to delivering a vaccine for the novel disease, with approval for the Pfizer vaccine drawing closer, following recommendations from the independent Advisory Committee on Vaccines. With the first doses likely to be rolled out by March 2021, IR Minister Christian Porter will shortly commence discussions with employers and unions about the difficult legal and workplace safety issues surrounding the roll out.

    The question front and centre for many is: can and should my business make COVID-19 vaccinations mandatory for all staff (and potentially clients/customers)?

    Unfortunately, there’s no clear answer… yet.

    Employers currently have the power to direct employees to obtain specific vaccinations, for instance, the influenza vaccine, when the employees operate in “high risk” environments like health, child or aged care. Though, as a result of the pandemic’s latest developments, employers in a broad range of industries now face a great deal of uncertainty when it comes to giving health-related directions in the workplace.


    Is a Direction to Vaccinate “Lawful and Reasonable”

    Whether an employer chooses to mandate a COVID-19 vaccination for their employees will continue to depend on the unique circumstances of the case, and whether the direction can be deemed “lawful and reasonable”. A vaccination is a physically invasive procedure and hence, a direction for employees to receive the injection must be justifiable, with supporting evidence to show that the vaccination is inherent for the safe performance of an employee’s duties.

    Given COVID-19’s high risk of infection and potentially dire outcome, it is likely that a wide range of industry employers will be successful in mandating the vaccine, claiming it as a necessary measure to minimise the risk of transmission in the workplace, consistent with WHS obligations under relevant Work, Health and Safety laws.

    This will, however, be subject to genuine medical exemptions, where in such cases, reasonable alternatives may be provided to employees, where possible. As for political, religious or other objections, employers will need to consider the nature of the objection, whether there are any consequences in relation discrimination laws, and navigate around these. At the end of the day, where there is a genuine work, health a safety reason for the direction, employers will be on strong ground to enforce such directions absent a legitimate basis for refusal.

    The Fair Work Commission recently considered mandating vaccinations in Ms Nicole Maree Arnold v Good­start Ear­ly Learn­ing Lim­it­ed T/A Good­start Ear­ly Learn­ing [2020] FWC 6083 Despite Deputy President Asbury ruling the application as being “out of time”, the Commission offered insight into the way other cases may be determined, commenting at paragraph [30] on the avenues made available by the Respondent for employees who had valid medical grounds for refusing vaccination. The Commission also highlighted the Respondent’s duty of care, observing at paragraph [32] that the mandatory vaccination is “lawful and reasonable” in the context of child-care.

    Top Tip: If employees have legitimate, medical grounds to refuse vaccination directions, employers may, where possible, offer reasonable alternatives for workers falling within this category.

    Just last week, the Commission touched on the same issue, considering the possibility of a mandated COVID-19 vaccine in Ms Maria Corazon Glover v Ozcare [2021] FWC 231. In paragraph [126], Commissioner Hunt emphasised the importance of an employee’s specific role in determining whether a mandated vaccine is a lawful and reasonable direction. Commissioner Hunt also made clear that despite grounds for refusal being “medical or based on religious grounds” or otherwise, an employee may still face termination should the vaccination be regarded as an “inherent requirement of the role”.

    And while it may be difficult to picture, it is entirely possible that employers far beyond the scope of health, child or aged care may require their workers to be vaccinated against COVID-19, given the much more sever health and safety consequences associated with the disease. Commissioner Hunt, in her decision went so far as to consider it foreseeably reasonable that a shopping centre Santa employee be immunised as an inherent requirement of the job.

    While it is likely that the courts will be tasked with ironing out the kinks in employer decisions as to lawful and reasonable vaccination directions, there are steps that can be taken in the meantime to prepare for the vaccine rollout in March.

    Deciding Whether to Implement Directions

    Employers who are deciding whether or not a vaccination mandate should be imposed should consider:

    • The type of work being performed;
    • Whether that work can be performed remotely;
    • The specific situation of employees;
    • The advice given by government and medical bodies applicable at the time; and
    • Any other relevant circumstances.

    Mandating the Vaccine

    When implementing a COVID-19 vaccine mandate, employers must place particular emphasis on:

    • Maintaining communications – employees must be made aware of why they are required to get the vaccine and alternatives may need to be given to those who have legitimate grounds to refuse or who are unable to comply. Employees must have the chance to ask questions and have their concerns heard. As this is first and foremost a safety issue, consultation is key.
    • Clear processes – if an employee conscientiously objects or is unable to comply with the directions, there should be procedures in place to determine available avenues moving forward.
    • Flexibility – employees should be given a choice with regard to vaccine suppliers and administrators and a number of opportunities to receive the vaccination.
    • Anticipating attitudes – employers must consider all potential circumstances and responses from their employees.
    • Transparency – employers should lead by example and provide explanations for why the vaccination is required to uphold WHS obligations.

     

    Christa Lenard
    Partner
    +61 2 9169 8404
    christa.lenard@kingstonreid.com

    Natasha Elster
    Paralegal


  • 23 Jan 2021 6:36 PM | Anonymous

    SafeWork NSW inspectors recently visited construction sites in Wollongong, targeting high-risk harms and the hygiene of site amenities including lunchrooms and toilets.

    As part of a regional crackdown on the construction industry, NSW Minister for Better Regulation, Kevin Anderson said SafeWork inspectors focused on hygiene, height safety, moving plant operations, and controlling risks related to falling objects.

    “This blitz has been triggered by a series of serious incidents in the area and a number of complaints of unsafe work via our Speak Up app,” Minister Anderson said.

    “In the middle of a pandemic, all workplaces have an obligation to undertake precautions to ensure the safety of everyone on their site – and that extends to common areas.”

    Cleanliness of a site can be a good indicator of safety and work standards, said Minister Anderson.

    “A safe construction site starts with a clean site and we’re seeing an unacceptable drop in housekeeping standards across the construction industry.

    “Having a well-maintained site is also a good indicator of the quality of the work being done.”

    If the site managers can’t be bothered to take care of the toilets, he said there’s a good chance that building standards will be haphazard as well.

    “It’s high time every single construction site in NSW got the message - shoddy workmanship and lack of safety on site is not acceptable. Up your game, or you can look forward to attention from the regulator,” he said.

    This article is a news item provided by the Australian Institute of Health & Safety.

  • 23 Jan 2021 6:30 PM | Anonymous

    FIA member Acrow are offering FIA members the following discount on all advertised prices when you buy online via the ACROW Marketplace.




  • 13 Jan 2021 9:18 AM | Anonymous

    With a recent rise in businesses failing to notify of serious incidents and consult with workers and their representatives appropriately, Workplace Health and Safety Queensland inspectors are auditing businesses to ensure compliance with these duties.

    (Original document from Civil Contractors Federation QLD).

    Most PCBUs are familiar with the requirements to notify serious injuries if a person has immediate treatment as an inpatient in a hospital. But did you know that when a person has immediate treatment from a doctor, registered nurse or paramedic (even if he or she isn’t directly admitted to hospital) for any of the eight types of serious injuries listed in the WHS Act, it’s also notifiable?

    Examples of serious injuries include head knocks causing loss of consciousness; burns requiring intensive care or critical care which may need a compression garment or a skin graft; and laceration injuries such as tears or wounds that may include stitching to prevent loss of blood or other treatment to prevent loss of bodily function or infection.

    In a recent matter, a PCBU was charged for failure to notify after a worker fell and suffered a fractured skull and brain injury. While this example appears to be an obvious notifiable incident, others may not be as straightforward.

    Safe Work Australia’s information on notifiable incidents

    The audits in Queensland will assess if recent incidents which weren’t notified should have been.

    Consultation with workers compliance campaign

    Inspectors will also be looking at whether medium and large businesses in the construction, manufacturing, transport, storage, health and community services sectors are appropriately consulting with workers and their health and safety representatives.

    Inspectors will assess whether HSRs have been involved in consultation affecting any workers they represent and take compliance action if contraventions are found.

    Read more about your consultation duties.


  • 12 Jan 2021 1:31 PM | Anonymous

    Concrete pump delivery pipeline end fittings

    Issued: 12/01/2021
    Last Updated: 12/01/2021

    Purpose

    This safety alert highlights the risk of concrete pump delivery pipeline hose ends failing.

    Businesses that fit end fittings to concrete delivery hoses and pipes should follow and document sound engineering practices and provide information on inspection methods to customers.

    Concrete pump owners should obtain information from suppliers of pipes and hoses on the manufacturing methods used and appropriate inspection methods.

    Background

    There have been incidents in Queensland where the ends of both rubber and steel concrete delivery lines have failed and sprayed concrete under pressure.

    Failures included a:

    • swaged ferrule cracking with the end breaking away (refer Photograph 1)
    • ferrule starting to separate from the rubber hose (refer Photograph 2) with the concrete spraying out of the gap
    • flange cracking and breaking away from a steel 90-degree, 6-inch to 5-inch reducer bend, located at the hopper (refer Photographs 3 and 4).

    Concrete pumping pressure can be in excess of 85 bar, especially when blockages occur. All of these incidents had the potential for serious injuries if workers had been near to where the failure occurred. In one incident, a car’s windscreen was broken approximately 15 metres away.

    Photograph 1 - Cracked and failed part of a swagged ferrule.

    Photograph 1: Cracked and failed part of a swaged ferrule

    Photograph 2: Ferrule that has separated from the hose.

    Photograph 2: Ferrule that has separated from the hose.

    Photograph 3 - Failed flange on steel reducer bend.

    Photograph 3: Failed flange on steel reducer bend.

    Photograph 4 - Location of steel reducer bend.

    Photograph 4: Location of steel reducer bend.

    Contributing factors

    Swaged ferrules can fail due to:

    • incorrect tolerances on the external and internal parts of the ferrules
    • inadequate swaging force so that the dies do not contact one another during swaging
    • incorrect specifications for the rubber hose
    • incorrect material specifications for the inner and outer parts of the ferrule
    • excessive wear—especially on the internal part of the fitting from concrete flow.

    Photograph 5 shows an example of a swaged ferrule on a rubber hose where the indentations from the swaging method can be clearly identified. Swaging marks cannot be identified on the end fitting shown in Photograph 2.

    Photograph 5 - Swaged ferrule clearly showing swaging indentations.

    Photograph 5 – Swaged ferrule clearly showing swaging indentations.

    Flanges on steel pipes can fail due to:

    • poor welding due to incorrect electrodes, incorrect preparation, lack of penetration, or other welding irregularities
    • flanges and pipes being made from steel types that can be difficult to weld
    • poor matching of flanges to pipes (i.e. the flange doesn’t fit well on the pipe end)
    • mishandling of the pipe flange (i.e. bashing the flange or pipe with a hammer when the adjacent pipe and/or hose clamp isn’t aligned)
    • poorly fitting hose clamps (e.g. incorrect size, concrete build up).

    Action required

    Concrete pump owners

    Concrete pump owners must take reasonable steps to ensure that a quality assurance program is followed while attaching the end fittings so that failure of the end fittings is avoided. It is generally easier to obtain certification from a local supplier when purchasing equipment.

    If a concrete pump owner imports components from overseas, it may be more difficult to obtain trustworthy information on the manufacturing process. This is the case when the overseas supplier is unknown or there is no manufacturer’s mark. Unscrupulous manufacturers have also been known to copy manufacturers’ names and trademarks, so marking of products alone may not provide adequate evidence that the product is fit for purpose.

    A concrete pump owner who imports equipment from overseas takes on the duties of an importer under the Work Health and Safety Act 2011. The importer must carry out, or arrange to have carried out, any calculations, analysis, testing, or examination of the equipment to control safety risks.

    Suppliers of pipes and hoses

    Suppliers of hoses and pipes with end fittings should ensure a quality assurance program is followed while attaching the end fittings and that information on this program is available for the purchaser.

    Suppliers should also provide documented instructions on the operating parameters of the product along with inspection methods to be used.

    If the supplier attaches end fittings to pipes or hoses, the supplier takes on the duties for manufacturers under the Work Health and Safety Act 2011 in addition to those duties for suppliers.

    Fitting swaged ferrules to hoses

    The same principles apply to fitting swaged ferrules to rubber hoses that apply to swaged ferrules on hydraulic hoses.

    The following should be ensured:

    • Comply with all of the conditions specified by the hose and/or ferrule manufacturer.
    • The hose material and dimensions are suitable for concrete pumping and for fitting of swaged ferrules.
    • The size of the external and internal parts of the ferrules must be within the tolerances specified by the hose manufacturer or ferrule manufacturer for the dimensions of the hose used.
    • The swaging method and dies must comply with the specifications of the ferrule manufacturer (information from the hose manufacturer may also be needed).

    Testing of the swaged ferrule is one way to help demonstrate the integrity of the connection. Proof testing of all ferrules or destructive testing of samples are methods that can be used. If proof testing is carried out, the test method needs to ensure the ferrule and hose are not damaged.

    If there is any doubt about the manufacturing criteria or testing relating to the fitting of swaged ferrules, the advice of a suitably qualified professional engineer should be obtained.

    Documented information on the swaging method should be maintained by the business carrying out the swaging. It is also advisable for the swaged ferrule to be permanently marked with a batch number or date so that any faulty batches can be easily isolated.

    Welding flanges to steel pipe

    Welding flanges to steel piping used for concrete pumping is a complex issue and requires high levels of technical input and skill to ensure the welding process will result in a quality product.

    The following should be ensured:

    • Only pipe specifically intended for concrete pumping should be used. Prior to welding, there should be some reliable method of verifying that the pipe and flanges are the actual type ordered.
    • The weld specifications are to be compatible for the pipe and flange material characteristics and pressure specifications of the pipe being welded. Information should be obtained from the pipe manufacturer on this issue.
    • Welding should be in accordance with a detailed weld procedure that includes electrode selection, pre-heating instructions (where required) and the use of a welding method that is recommended by the pipe manufacturer.
    • Carrying out destructive testing on a test sample to verify the welding method is fit for purpose.

    Inspection of hoses and pipes

    All operators of concrete pumping equipment need to carry out ongoing inspection of pipes and hoses. Inspection methods and intervals for measuring pipe thickness is outlined in the Concrete Pumping Code of Practice 2019. However, in addition, an inspection program should be applied to rubber hoses, swaged ferrules on these hoses and flanges on steel pipes.

    Inspection of hoses

    Documented information on inspection of hoses should be provided by the business who fits the swaged ferrules, and this should be passed on by the hose supplier to the end user.

    Hose suppliers should provide information on the maximum recommended volume of concrete that can be pumped before the hose is discarded. This will assist the pump owner in deciding when to carry out more intensive inspection of the hose and end fittings.

    The inspection program should include an inspection before use and a periodical inspection with the interval based on the frequency of use and the operating environment.

    The inspection program should include:

    • an internal inspection with sufficient light levels checking hose tubes are of reasonable thickness, there is no textile fabric or steel reinforcing exposed, there are no blockages, rips, cuts or tears of the liner tube, and there are no collapsed sections of the inner tube or hose
    • an external inspection checking for cover damage including cuts, tears, abrasion exposing the reinforcing material, chemical attack, kinks or collapsed areas, soft spots, cracking or weathering
    • inspection of end fittings (including ferrules) for excessive wear and thinning of the wall thickness
    • visual inspection of end fittings for cracks. If there’s any doubt or there is a history of cracking, non-destructive examination may be required
    • checking swaged ends are intact and not slipping from the hose due to old age or from mechanical pulling loads.

    Inspecting welded flanges on steel pipe

    In addition to thickness testing of steel pipeline (specified in the Code of practice) and checking the pipeline for damage, it is important to check flanges on concrete pumping pipe.

    The inspection program should include inspection of:

    • welds for cracks, missing weld, weld undercut and weld consistency
    • flanges to check they are not deformed and do not have hammer marks
    • pipe ends internally for uneven wear and cracking
    • flanges to ensure they are free from concrete build-up and other foreign material.

    Further information


  • 23 Dec 2020 12:13 PM | Anonymous

    During the design and construction phase of formwork structures, there are many vital checks and balances to ensure the health and safety of workers.

    Earlier this year in the ACT, there was an incident involving a catastrophic collapse of a formwork structure during a concrete pour. An investigation found some frames were defective, and some structural components had non-compliant welding. In response, WHS regulators nationally are reviewing formwork on construction sites.

    Workplace Health and Safety Queensland has commenced an audit campaign that includes reviewing design plans and documentation of formwork systems and subsequent physical inspections to verify the formwork complies with the documentation.

    The campaign has only been going for a short time, but already inspectors have identified issues with documentation in general, including:

    • formwork component certification not available
    • engineer/competent person checks not available (e.g. concrete hardened prior to stripping)
    • engineering document not available (e.g. bracing or wind loading)
    • no maximum point loadings provided
    • no stripping or back-propping details and plans
    • no handover certificates.

    There have also been several instances of safe work method statements not being followed.

    The design of formwork systems is complex and must meet the requirements of the:

    More information

    Read more about the formwork industry compliance audits and how you can prepare.


  • 23 Dec 2020 11:14 AM | Anonymous

    A worker has fallen approximately 8m into a lift shaft while working on the refurbishment of a building in Sydney. The worker was removing timber rafters from a roof frame when he fell and sustained serious injuries.

    This is the twelfth incident information release SafeWork NSW has published this year relating to falls from heights in the construction industry. Falls from heights are the biggest killer on NSW construction sites.

    Construction site where the incident occurred showing the roof trusses and the void below.

    Safety information

    Consider ‘reasonably practicable’ control measures to manage the risks associated with working at heights.

    Consultation and coordination between a principal contractor and sub contractors on site is essential to ensure any task being undertaken is done so in a safe manner and does not impact others around you. Businesses cannot delegate their work health and safety duties to someone else.

    Make sure:

    • workers always use a suitable work platform for the task, such as scaffolds, elevated work platform, boom or scissor lift
    • workers are trained how to use the suitable work platform or scaffold 
    • workers are provided with a safe way to access and exit the work area 
    • you prepare a safe work method statement for all high-risk construction work 
    • you have a plan in place in case of an emergency 

    SafeWork NSW inspectors regularly blitz construction sites to check compliance and talk with businesses and workers about how to work safely at heights. Use this checklist to find out if your construction site is working at heights safely. 

    More information 

    • Working at heights guidance material 
    • Managing the risk of falls at workplaces – Code of practice (PDF 4.1MB) 
    • Falls from heights poster (PDF 1.8MB) 
    • Pocket guide to construction safety (PDF 1MB) 
    • Construction Site Supervisors: Take 5 podcast 


    View the latest incident information releases at safework.nsw.gov.au 

    View the latest safety information in the FIA Knowledge Channel.

    FIA Knowledge Channel

    FIA Working Safely At Heights Info

  • 21 Dec 2020 2:06 PM | Anonymous

    This year new FIA Technology Partner, the Up-Family, have been paving the way for major change in the construction industry, by reinventing reporting.

    Before CEO Annalisa Fox explains how, she'd like to share the 'why'. Bookkeeping or accounting was one of the first business practices formalised during the revolution back in the 18th Century. While accounting software was introduced in the 70's the past 30 years have seen basic features stay the same.

    In 2006, Xero, a new player in accounting software, changed the industry. Xero was the first cloud accounting software to introduce back feeds, linking back transaction data to business owners so they could monitor their own bank activity. The feature was a hit - customers could login to Xero, reconcile their transactions and immediately update their financial records. Bank feeds are now a prerequisite for accounting software and optimise daily workflow allowing businesses to see their transactions in real time.

    Now, if we can do this with financial reporting, why can't we implement it in other industries where lag in reconciled data causes discrepancies - Iike construction?

    Construction tech is slowly taking over manual paperwork in the industry. Subcontractors are now tasked to use multiple software platforms with different functions to receive tenders, subscribe to safety systems and manage staff and compliance. Despite the emergence of softwares, there is not one for improved progress reporting.

    The builder is responsible for this, but the industry sees human errors in data entry, reporting lags, monthly updates to construction programs and an average of 20% of large projects running behind the scheduled time.

    And that's why we, The Up-Family, are proud to introduce Project-Up in 2021. We are flipping construction reporting on its head and teaching the industry a new way to verify the data they rely on.

    Using a suite of apps designed for every stakeholder involved in the project, we are empowering teams and individuals to report on their own work, in real-time, creating transparency and efficiency in the way we share information about a project.

    Watch this space for more info and in the meantime have a wonderful Christmas break.

    Annalisa Fox
    CEO and Co-Founder


  • 21 Dec 2020 1:46 PM | Anonymous

    To assist with the recovery from the impact of COVID-19, the Australian Government is providing support to all employers who engage a new Australian Apprentice.

    The $1.2 billion Boosting Apprenticeship Commencements wage subsidy will support businesses and Group Training Organisations to take on new apprentices and trainees, to build a pipeline of skilled workers to support sustained economic recovery.

    Any businesses or Group Training Organisation that engages an Australian Apprentice on or after 5 October 2020 may be eligible for a subsidy of 50 per cent of wages paid to an apprentice between 5 October 2020 and 30 September 2021, to a maximum of $7,000 per quarter.

    This assistance will support 100,000 new apprentices across Australia, and is in addition to the Supporting Apprentices and Trainees wage subsidy which is helping small and medium businesses to keep their apprentices and trainees in work and training.

    For more information read the Boosting Apprenticeships Commencements fact sheet.

    For further information on how to apply for the subsidy, including information on eligibility, contact an Australian Apprenticeship Support Network provider.

    Additional information

    Additional information regarding the Boosting Apprenticeship Commencements wage subsidy – including maximum payment amounts – is provided in the Questions and Answers factsheet.

    Final detailed eligibility requirements will be outlined in the program guidelines.

    FIA involvement

    The FIA is partnering with Apprenticeship Support Australia (ASA) to offer additional support to FIA members.

    All FIA members can access Apprenticeship Support Australia's free services to assist you in signing up and Apprentice or Trainee. 

    Download your pre-sign up assessment form below and follow up with ASA.

    Pre-Assessment Form
  • 15 Dec 2020 4:46 PM | Anonymous

    This episode of the SafetyCast series, produced by the The High Risk Work & Stakeholder Engagements Team at SafeWork NSW, focuses on the Construction Site Security.

    Also available, we have included the “Take 5 - Construction Site Security – SafetyCast”, an abridged version of Construction Site Security SafetyCast. 

    How to listen:

    Visit the link below to our Safety Channel in the FIA knowledge Channel.




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