Hazard identification tool - Bricklaying

This publication is for: 
BuilderEmployee / workerEmployer

This educational article has been developed to assist in the identification of occupational safety and health (OSH) hazards. The hazard identification tools were developed following interviews with principal contractors and subcontractors, which highlighted the accurate identification of hazards as significant in the successful management of subcontractor safety.  

The hazard identification tools have been adapted from a series of hazard profiles developed by the University of New South Wales and WorkCover NSW and modified to reflect West Australian terminology and practice. This was achieved in consultation with WorkSafe Inspectors and the Construction Industry Safety Advisory Committee of the Commission for Occupational Safety and Health.

Hazard identification tools can be used as a guide to help:

  • identify generic hazards and the controls required for a job task; 
  • assist in formulating relevant and effective safe work method statements; 
  • guide or induct new workers in the typical hazards for a specific trade; and 
  • check that all general trade specific hazards have been identified in safety documentation required by the principal contractor.
Hazard identification tool - Bricklaying
Job activity
What can harm
you (Hazards)
What can happen
Causes which need to be
managed (Controlled)
General planning Inadequate
planning and
Task specific
injuries due to
consultation or
failure to provide
  • Insufficient skills (competency) to complete the required task.
  • Inadequate consultation with relevant employees.
  • Inadequate competent supervision.
  • Planning for required equipment not carried out.
  • Improvisation using inappropriate equipment.
Planning by
contractor or
Poor access to
work areas.
Slips, trips and
falls; abrasions,
strains and
sprains; manual
handling injuries.
  • Access to work area cluttered
    • poor housekeeping.
  • Area around work area cluttered with stored materials and/or rubbish. 
  • Inadequate access for bricklayers and their equipment.
Depending on
Slips, trips and
falls; walking into
objects or
  • Poor lighting provided to the work face, especially in basement and other enclosed areas.
  • Access ways not suitably defined or lighted.
  Lack of adequate
Illness; breathing difficulties – overcome by fumes.
  • Fuelled equipment operating in confined areas such as basements or below ground car parks.
  • Concrete pump or other fuelled equipment running continuously in the immediate vicinity of the work area.
  • No exhaust stack, scrubber or catalytic converter fitted to equipment. 
  • Constant wind blowing fumes towards work area.
  Working at height near edge. Fall from the edge.
  • Inadequate strength in perimeter handrail or midrail and fenderboard missing.
  • Gaps in perimeter protection, e.g. between screen or edge scaffold.
  • No catch scaffold provided. 
   Penetrations Fall through penetration
  • Penetration/s not meshed covered, secured and marked.
Planning by bricklaying subcontractor Exposure to ultra violet light, glare. Skin cancer; sunburn, eye damage.
  • Personal protective clothing – sunscreen 15-30+, long sleeved shirt, flap on hard hat not worn.
  • AS rated sunglasses not worn.
Erecting working platforms Manual handling.  Sprains, strains and fractures.
  • Lifting frames, planks and other scaffolding materials.
  • Passing up or receiving scaffolding materials at height.
  • Carrying scaffolding material up stairs.
Moving bricks and blocks to work face Manual handling.  Sprains, strains and fractures.
  • Incorrect type of trolley to lift bricks packs.
  • Poor terrain – does not suit trolley
  • Mechanical delivery on to first floor slabs not used.
  • Lifting too many bricks at one time.
  • Repetitive lifting of bricks.
  • Increased weight of new modular bricks and blocks.
  • Pushing/pulling loaded brick trolleys onto or off hoist platform.
  • Limited job rotation opportunities.
  Passing or throwing up tools and materials. Brick falls onto person below.
  • Poor co-ordination when passing/throwing bricks up onto scaffold.
  • No safety helmet.
  • Brick guards not in place on scaffold.
  Unstable ground or incorrectly constructed or overloaded scaffold. Fall from scaffold or with collapse.
Collapse of part of scaffold and materials onto person below.
  • Ground not properly prepared resulting in unsteady structure.
  • Scaffold incorrectly constructed, including planks too long creating unsupported ends (trap).
  • Inadequate edge protection to working platform.
  • Inadequate access onto working platform.
  • Scaffold overloaded with bricks or loaded between ‘standard’ supports.
  Penetrations in slab. Fall through penetration.
  • Penetration/s not meshed and covered or cover not secured forming a ‘trap’.
Mixing mortar and providing to the work face Cement added to mortar. Mortar splashes in eye/s.
  • No water to work area to flush mortar from eye/s.
  • No PPE or incorrect PPE for the required task.
  Contact with substance classified as hazardous. Short or long term health affect, e.g. overcome by vapours, rash, allergy, disease.
  • Risk assessment not undertaken.
  • Alternate (safer) substance not considered.
  • No MSDS provided.
  • No PPE or incorrect PPE for the required task.
  • Safety instructions ignored and/or training in safe use of the substance not provided.
  • Barrier cream, or similar, not available or not worn.

Electric mixer motor and leads.

Electric shock, burns or electrocution
  • Equipment faulty or damaged.
  • Extensive water use around electrical equipment.
  • Earth Leakage Switch not installed on mains supply or portable generator.
  • Extension lead faulty.
  • Extension lead not secured above work area - lying in water.
  Moving parts of machinery. Finger/s or hand caught in mixer drive gear.
Shovel flung out of  the drum.
  • Guard for mixer drive gear missing or damaged.
  • Placing shovel into rotating mixer drum - flung out striking employee.
  • Loose clothing caught by moving parts of machinery.
  Manual handling.  Sprains, strains and fractures.
  • Shoveling raw materials into mixer.
  • Pushing barrow filled with mortar.
  • Use of inappropriate barrows that cannot handle the load.
  • Relocating mixer.
  • Repetitious passing or shovelling mortar up onto scaffold.
  • Limited job rotation opportunities.
  Standing on unstable stacks of bricks. Fall from unstable stacks of bricks.
  • Standing on stack of bricks or blocks to pass up material.
  • Brick stack collapses or becomes unstable.
Cutting  Electric cutting equipment (brick saw). Electric shock, burns or electrocution.
  • Equipment faulty or damaged.
  • Water saw sitting in water - not on a wooden pallet, or similar.
  • Earth Leakage Switch not installed on mains supply or portable generator.
  • Extension lead faulty or damaged.
  • Extension lead not secured above work area - lying in water.
  High speed rotating saw blade. Struck by brick piece flung out from the saw.
  • Saw operator not experienced.
  • Saw blade damaged or inappropriate size or type.
  • Saw not adequately guarded.
  • No PPE or incorrect PPE for the required task.
  • Other persons in the area not protected from flying cut-offs.
  Cutting bricks with water saw, angle grinder or trowel.  
  • Serious cut or other to person cutting brick.
  • Equipment not adequately guarded.
  • Angle grinder not fitted with ‘Dead Mans’switch.
  • Angle grinder placed on ground before the blade stops turning.
  • Incorrect blade/disk type, size or fitting.
  • Angle grinder blade overly worn – disintegrates.
  • Incorrect grip on brick (thumb in the way) when whacking with trowel.
  Dust, grit or brick splinters flung out by saw. Grit or brick splinter in eye/s
  • No PPE or incorrect PPE for the required task.
  Noise Hearing damage
  • No engineering solution for high noise level, e.g. quieter tool.
  • No temporary sound absorption screen or barrier to protect other persons in the area, e.g. ply or polystyrene.
  • No PPE or incorrect PPE for the required task.
Laying  Manual handling Sprains, strains and fractures
  • Repetitious stooping, twisting and lifting.
  • Increased weight of modular bricks, especially when lifting them above shoulder height. Correct working platforms to minimise work above shoulder height and below knee height not used.
  • Limited job rotation opportunities.
  Overhand brickwork to external face Fall, or lean, against wall, which gives way.
  • Loss of balance – fall against freshly mortared (green) wall.
  • No scaffold.
  • No means of preventing fall from height.
  Scaffold overloaded Partial or complete collapse causing a fall onto the slab.
  • Labourer inexperienced in constructing working platforms.
  • Planks not lapped correctly or too long creating unsupported ends (trap).
  • Faulty plank gives way when loaded
  Overhead obstructions Hit head, face or eye on obstruction
  • Services/obstructions on slab soffit at a level where head contact may occur.
  • No PPE or incorrect PPE for the required task.
  • Working platform too high.
  Fixing ties Use of explosive power tools (EPT) Concrete blows out or nail rebounds hitting operator or persons in vicinity.
  • EPT operator not appropriately trained.
  • Wrong charge used in EPT causing concrete around fixing to explode.
  • EPT used on inappropriate material – e.g. sandstone.
  • Nail driven by EPT strikes reinforcement or aggregate and rebounds.
  • Fixing too close to the edge of a concrete column causing side to explode outward.
  • No PPE or incorrect PPE for the required task.
  • No eye or hearing protection for operator or workers affected nearby.
  • Tool faulty.
  • Tool not maintained.
  • No warning signs.
  Noise generated by EPT Hearing damage to operator or surrounding person/s.
  • No engineering solution for high noise level, e.g. quieter tool
  • No temporary sound absorption screen or barrier to protect other persons in the area, e.g. ply or other suitable material.
  • No PPE or incorrect PPE for the required task.


Fact sheet
Last updated 20 May 2014

Last modified: