While occupational health and safety might not be a glamorous topic, construction company SHAPE wants to ensure safety is front and centre in the minds of its workers and contractors.
The company has developed and released an industry-first app to demystify health and safety procedures. The SHAPE Minimum Standards app is available to the public and outlines occupational health and safety procedures in dot-point form.
The SMS app was trialled at SHAPE's worksites and was found to raise awareness of hazards among subcontractors. Electrical incidents at SHAPE's sites decreased by 67 per cent and asbestos-related incidents decreased by 29 per cent during the first six months of app testing.
In a sign of the times, the app also includes COVID-19 guidelines, providing information on PPE, hygiene, physical distancing and temperature requirements.
SHAPE group executive for environment, health, safety and quality Phillip Smith says the app bypassed the need for builders to lug large documents on safety standards to and from site.
"It was really about providing very functional and accessible information at the fingertips that anyone can access at a moment's time," Mr Smith said.
"For front-line workers their priority is getting work done, they don't have the time to go back and actually read procedures.
"This allows them to actually look at the key points they need to ... and you know you always have the right information at hand."
The SHAPE minimum standards are derived from WorkSafe requirements, and the strictest health and safety requirements from different states and territories.
We want our people to go home safely from our projects, but also from other projects they are working on.SHAPE group executive for environment, health, safety and quality Phillip Smith
"Because we are a national business we're always taking the highest control as opposed to a lower level," Mr Smith said.
Health and safety culture at construction sites is a growing concern in Canberra. This year two construction workers died in separate incidents at two worksites in Denman Prospect. Between January and February, 70 sites were shut down by WorkSafe ACT for failing to comply with safety standards.
This was followed by safety blitzes in August in which 11 sites were closed, and the closure of four more sites in September. Meanwhile, Safe Work Australia's 2019 Key WHS Statistics report found 38 construction workers across Australia made serious injury claims each day.
Mr Smith hopes the SMS app will raise safety standards across the industry beyond SHAPE sites.
"Our subcontractors work for our competitors and other builders throughout the industry," he said.
"We really hope when they are on other building sites that aren't SHAPE projects to share the knowledge and information they gained from the SHAPE minimum standards."
"We want our people to go home safely from our projects, but also from other projects they are working on.
As the app is available to the public Mr Smith hopes it becomes a resource for safety literacy.
"The reason why we made this public is to make sure anyone can access it, whether it be a competitor, one of our subcontractors, [or] a mum or dad if they need it," he said.
"You can't sit still in the construction industry and certainly not with regards to health and safety."