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Top 6 Safety Risks In Construction


There are several industries where workers face real safety risks on a daily basis. Probably none more so than the construction industry. From shifting heavy loads to working on fragile surfaces and dealing with toxic materials, construction workers face many hazards. So what are the top 6 safety risks in construction and how can you mitigate against them?

Table of contents:

    Top 6 Safety Risks in Construction: Working At Height

    Unsurprisingly, working at height is a huge safety risk. That’s why there are working at height regulations in place for site managers to follow.

    In 2019/2020, a total of 29 workers in Great Britain suffered fatal injuries after falling from height. Even with collective and personal protective equipment in place, there is not a 100% guarantee that working from height can be safe. For example, workers may be carrying out tasks over the edge of a building, on a fragile surface or above a hole in the ground.

    Moving Obstacles and Machinery

    Construction sites are exceptionally busy places. There are cranes, trucks, scaffolding and other tools being used to carry out all kinds of building works. Moreover, the machines and drivers are moving along uneven surfaces which are open to all kinds of weathers and environmental factors.

    As well as this, if you’re concentrating on a particular task in hand, you may not notice other people or machinery moving around you. Therefore it’s important to be aware of your surroundings at all times on a construction site.

    Additionally, there is the risk of falling debris. When you’re working below on another level, you may not notice what is moving around above your head either.

    Hazardous or Toxic Materials

    It could be asbestos, heavy metals or chemicals such as solvents or pesticides, but you are probably aware that construction sites are full of dangerous materials. Perhaps the dangerous nature of the material is not always obvious. It’s only after you’ve been around it for a long time that you may experience symptoms.

    Furthermore, construction workers must store the materials safely under specific regulations which means moving them into the right place.

    According to the Health and Safety Executive, waste is deemed as hazardous when it contains substances that are harmful to human health or the environment, although it doesn’t need to have an immediate effect.

    The duty of care when it comes to handling hazardous waste depends on whether you are a producer, holder, carrier or a consignee.

    Slips, Trips and Falls

    When it comes to construction sites, the cause of most non fatal accidents is slips, trips or falls. It’s easy to see why. There is demolition, building and excavation going on throughout a site. And it all creates mud, holes, uneven ground and trip hazards.

    Ideally, a site manager can reduce the risk of slips and trips by making sure the site is as tidy as it can practically be. So putting tools away in the right places or creating safety zones where workers enter and exit the site.

    This is also where safety awareness training can help. It could be that some people don’t recognise potential hazards or risks. Even putting your tools down on a scaffolding can potentially cause the next person to trip over. Or they might knock the tool accidentally which then falls heavily onto a person below.

    Handling Materials

    How to handle material is an essential part of health and safety training.

    For example, storage areas should be clean and organised. Whole sites should be kept safe and clean and easy to move around.

    Moving heavy loads requires safe bagging and the correct, working machinery to lift them. If you’re using a ladder for example to reach materials, you must place it on a stable, level floor. Or if you’re moving fluid material from one level to another, you could build a ramp to move it up without any spillages.

    Once again, the correct protective equipment can help to keep workers as safe as possible while handling materials. For example, using flame retardant gloves, a high visibility coat, a helmet and safety goggles.

    Staff should also have training in how to lift and move heavy loads correctly so they don’t hurt themselves.

    Top 6 Safety Risks In Construction: Noise

    When it comes to a building site, it’s a noisy place. There’s construction machinery, lots of people, and various tools operating at the same time. Drilling, hammering, cutting and shouting to make yourself heard can all contribute to noise levels.

    As well as this, the repetitive and excessive nature of the noisy work can potentially cause long term hearing problems. It could also lead to a dangerous situation when trying to communicate across the noise.

    Site managers must carry out a comprehensive noise risk assessment on site and issue appropriate personal protective equipment. This can include ear defenders and ear plugs. However, there must be an element of common sense in using them so that everyone can understand each other.

    Accident Statistics in Construction

    The statistics from 2020 in Great Britain show how dangerous it can be to work in the construction industry and why safety is paramount.

    For example, 57% of workers suffered from a form of musculoskeletal disorder. Meanwhile 27% suffered from stress, anxiety or depression.

    Of all the accidents that took place, 40 workers were fatally injured. 47% of accidents involved falling from height, while 16% involved being trapped by something collapsing.

    In 12% of accidents, a worker was struck by a moving or falling object and 10% were hit by a moving vehicle. Finally 4% had contact with electricity.

    Conclusion: Top 6 Safety Risks in Construction

    To conclude, as you can see above, the risks while working on a construction site are very serious. This article only mentions the top 6 safety risks in construction but there are many more.

    It is possible to reduce the risks by doing a comprehensive risk assessment before the work begins. Identifying the hazards around the site will help you to prepare the right safety equipment for workers to use. Keeping the site clean and tidy and free from trip hazards will enable it to be a safer place through the duration of the job.

    Finally, making sure that your team has the proper safety training and awareness will contribute significantly to keeping everyone safe.

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    Health And Safety In Construction


    Perhaps you are new to the construction industry or you’re an employer looking at health and safety guidelines for a large new project. Whatever the case, remember that managing health and safety doesn’t have to be complex or costly. If you are taking reasonable steps to prevent accidents or harm to workers, then you are doing the right thing. Here are some basic tips and rules on health and safety in construction.

    Table of contents:

      Choosing A Competent Person

      As an employer, you must choose a competent person to help you carry out your health and safety duties. But who is a competent person?

      It’s a member of your team who has the necessary skills, knowledge and experience to manage health and safety.

      For example, if you are working at height near a fall hazard which cannot be avoided, then you need a competent person to set up the fall arrest equipment. You would not choose an apprentice or someone who has never used the equipment before to make it safe for everyone else! A lot of this is common sense.

      Communicate Health And Safety With Your Team

      If you get everyone on board with your health and safety plans, it will be a lot easier and safer to carry out. Start by writing a health and safety policy that everyone can follow. It doesn’t have to be a long essay. Just the main points about how to keep safe while working on site.

      For example, perhaps every worker has to come in the same entrance and leave at the same exit. Maybe they must wear helmets and high visibility clothing at all times while on the construction site. Perhaps personal protective equipment should be stored in a specific place.

      Communicate your policy with employees and everyone will know what they are meant to be doing safely on site.

      Risk Assessment At Construction Planning Stages

      When you are planning the job in the first place, you will look at the entire site and make a risk assessment.

      According to the health and safety executive, the law doesn’t require you to remove all risks. You can’t predict or anticipate risks that might never happen! However, the law requires you to control risks as far as reasonable practicable.

      Therefore, if you are working at height, you need fall protection measures in place. If you are removing heavy debris from the site, you may need debris netting as well as bulk bags and cable ties.

      Or perhaps you are using heavy machinery to lift objects or clear sites. You must ensure the machinery is working properly and safe to use.

      If you don’t know where to start with a risk assessment, just take a walk around the site and note down any dangers or hazards that you identify. You can then use a risk assessment template from the internet to fill in the rest. Specifically concentrate on risks that may cause harm or serious injury. Then take measures to control these risks.

      Don’t forget, that sites can change over time. You may have new personnel or different equipment. It’s essential that you carry out a new risk assessment if there are any significant changes.

      Working at Height Health And Safety

      Working at height is a high risk activity and something that cannot be avoided on a construction site.

      For some tasks there are strict guidelines required by law. Working at height or working with chemicals or dangerous substances are higher risk. Therefore you will need further safety protection equipment.

      The health and safety executive website will guide you here as to exactly what you need to do to carry out this work legally.

      When it comes to working at height, your team are at risk of falling. As you are responsible for controlling this risk, you need the correct fall protection equipment in place. Some jobs may only require collective equipment such as guard rails to keep workers away from the fall hazard. However, if the job requires a worker to carry out a task on a fragile surface, then you will need a fall arrest system such as a safety bag or net.

      What Is A Fall Arrest System in Construction

      A fall arrest system is a final safety measure while working at height. Depending on the job, it may not be necessary for your project. Installing a fall arrest system such as a safety bag requires a competent person and a legal fall recovery plan. The fall arrest system protects a person from the worst case scenario. They are already falling from height and heading for the floor. A fall safety bag will absorb the impact of the fall and reduce any serious harm or injury.

      Then, there needs to be a fall recovery plan in place to safely retrieve the fallen person from the bag and to safety.

      Provide Effective Health And Safety Training

      It’s also your duty as an employer to provide ongoing and effective training to your team. You need to ensure that your employees have the skills and knowledge they need for working safely on a construction site.

      You might use methods such as the policy mentioned earlier in this article. Or face to face training through regular meetings. Once the site is safe, perhaps you can take your team on a walk through the site looking at areas of risk.

      Don’t forget, if it’s a simple job, you don’t need to spend lots of time on technical training. Sometimes simple instructions will work. For the more complex jobs, you may require more explanation. However, when it comes to using fall arrest systems, then legally you need proper training in place for the person who is responsible for setting it up.

      Conclusion: Health and Safety In Construction

      To conclude, there’s a lot of common sense when it comes to health and safety in construction. But equally, you don’t want to miss an obvious risk or hazard.

      Identify the risks of the site and the job and then make sure you communicate these with your team. Consider the public as well who may be walking under or near the site. Choose the appropriate safety equipment and write a health and safety plan for everyone to follow.

      Give your team the appropriate level of training to ensure that everyone stays safe while working on site.

      If you need safety equipment including debris netting, cable ties or bulk bags, then get in touch with to buy products for your site.