FIA: Construction site safety & competence

In addition to addressing the current formwork qualification issues and access to government funding for apprenticeship programs, the Formwork Industry Association (FIA) over the past four years has sought to address the safety issue of construction workers on site.

The FIA has recently shared their vision on how to change the culture within the Australian Formwork industry and improve site safety.

Formwork is one of, if not, the highest risk trades in the construction industry and makes up to 50% of the total workforce on site.

With high incident levels on site and other industry pressures there is a need, and demand, for the right level of training and expertise to minimise the level of risk and improve safety on site.

Addressing the issues within their industry the members and their industry association (FIA) identified key priorities to build better skills and capabilities to raise the standards of compliance and safety and for cultural change to occur.

The time was right for the Australian Formwork industry to take control of change, innovate and adopt new technology to assist in a new education pathway to improved safety, that delivers massive benefits to all concerned in the industry.

As FIA President, Jason Andrijic, states, “There is an opportunity right now to upskill workers and provide a new learning pathway for new entrants and ensure a future skilled labour force, that is competent, safe and productive.”

FIA CEO, Michael Sugg, advised the Association’s solution was to work with industry to build, “A new education pathway towards a formwork qualification that includes new RPL processes, a new industry recognised accreditation scheme and micro credential learning and verification of competency processes that build a worker’s skills, learning, confidence and capabilities.”

Why is it important?

Industry feedback requested the FIA create industry wide and recognised minimum levels of safety to get workers safely on construction sites. Feedback also stated a need to re-engage workers in learning and prepare them for future learning/training and the new education pathway.

As such an initial pathway for workers to receive micro credential learning on formwork specific WHS issues, a Safe Formworker Pilot Program, was proposed so that workers can return home safely at the end of the day.

This program will provide specific formwork skills and positive awareness of the industry risks by providing practical learning outcomes to benefit workers. The activity will focus on the individual formworker to allow that person to increase their safety knowledge and skills, allow them to become more employable, more connected to the industry and their peers and increase motivation and enthusiasm in the industry.

The easy to access micro credential learning program will be accessible to workers at toolbox talks, pre starts or other times in the shed via mobile learning and is a record they can take with them.

With video and image-based learning, along with gamification, it is hoped to engage workers in learning, tackle the language barriers and prepare workers for further learning.

Current situation

The Pilot program was released in early July and will have 300 workers complete the program by the end of October 2022. Once the initial statistics have been gathered and additional funding achieved, the program will be rolled out to the industry. Already, those involved in the Pilot have expressed positive feedback and shared ideas on how the program can be developed further to meet industry needs.

The FIA will then develop the next stage of the education pathway in consultation with industry and government training services to build a construction worker’s skills, learning, confidence, and capabilities and improve site safety and competence.

How can you help?

The easiest way to get involved and to help create industry wide and recognised minimum levels of safety is to support the FIA and become a member.

With its achievements over the past year, the FIA has demonstrated that by working together there is mutual benefit as a strong industry body to achieve outcomes otherwise not possible by going it alone.

Further information

The Safe Formworker Pilot program is voluntary, and whilst it does not form part of any legislative or regulatory scheme, it will assist formwork companies, construction companies and business owners to meet their obligations under the WHS legislation including the Formwork Code of Practice.

For further information on the program, please contact the Formwork Industry Association CEO, Michael Sugg on 0401 326 161 or via [email protected]

What is the program?

Developed in consultation with the formwork industry, the program is a pathway for workers to receive micro credential learning on formwork specific WHS issues.

Initially 5 courses with 12 lessons, the program will be administered by the Formwork Industry Association and include:

1. Introduction to WHS and the Formwork Code of Practice.

1.1.  Awareness of formwork code of practice.

1.2.  What does a Code of Practice Cover?

1.3.  Common Formwork Hazards.

2. Controlling common formwork hazards.

2.1. Access & egress.

2.2. Manual handling.

2.3. Penetrations.

2.4. Handrails.

2.5. Silica dust.

3. Risk management.

3.1. Risk assessment tools/documentation.

4. Consultation.
5. Different types of Formwork.


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