Strict health and safety regulations come hand-in-hand with construction work, and with good reason. In this guide we’ll outline the dangers of construction work, highlighted with statistics from the Health and Safety Executive, and approach the necessary measures for employees and employers to take to reduce risks.
With almost a quarter of all workers killed in accidents at work in the last year being in the construction industry, it’s more important than ever to reduce hazards faced by employees.
1. Hazardous materials
Amidst the chaos of a construction site, it’s sensible to apprehend and make necessary precautions against hazardous building materials or chemicals. The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) figures show that 12% of the fatal injuries in the workplace in the past year were caused by impact with a moving, flying or falling object.
Alerting employees to any loose or hazardous objects is paramount before entering site, and the risk of accidents can be reduced by installing appropriate barriers, signs, and spaces to contain them. Furthermore, it’s crucial to protect workers onsite with protective equipment including safety helmets, high-visibility clothing, and face shields and visors where necessary.
A construction-specific HSE study found that a shocking 47% of deaths in the industry over the same five-year period were due to falls from a height.
It’s not just workers at risk, either: if construction work takes place over a public road or pathway, members of the public can be subject to falling objects, platform materials or even workers. An average of five members of the public have died every year over the past five years in circumstances related construction work.
With construction workers often working on scaffolding or platforms around homes and other tall structures, the risk of falling should be taken extremely seriously. Before any workers set foot onsite, managers and planners should carry out risk assessments to identify risks and raise awareness.
3. Moving vehicles
In tragic circumstances, the risk of getting struck by a moving vehicle is not only present in 67% of establishments in the construction industry, but death as a result accounted for 18% of the total number of deaths in construction last year.
To prevent unauthorised vehicles from appearing on a construction site, use temporary barriers or fencing with clear signs to restrict access. While some incidents are sadly down to unavoidable coincidence, providing thorough training procedures and ensuring that all employees have the relevant qualifications for their specific roles could help to promote a safety-conscious, sensible approach to work.
Even with regulations and training in place, accidents can occur. It’s possible to reduce the risks by ensuring construction workers are trained, physically protected, and aware of any additional risks on a specific site or task.