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Does Construction Need To Do More On Health And Safety?

Posted: 06/06/2018

The construction industry is one of the areas where people are most likely to suffer from work-related ill health or a non-fatal injury, with Health & Safety Executive (HSE) statistics showing that 80,000 workers in the construction industry suffer from work-related ill health every year, while 64,000 receive non-fatal injuries a year.

There were also 30 fatalities in the sector during 2016/17, RIDDOR data shows.

Due to the environment and the nature of the work undertaken, it’s understandable that more people in the construction sector put themselves at physical risk than those who work in education or public administration, for example, but there are still a considerable number of avoidable injuries and illnesses.

Scottish Construction Now recently highlighted a report produced last year which found that 65 per cent of manual labourers had never received any information about their company’s health and safety policy or procedures.

What’s more, almost 20 per cent of those questioned said that if they did find a health and safety issue in their workplace they wouldn’t know how to report it.

The news provider stressed that it’s more important than ever that construction firms get their health and safety training, policies and procedures sorted, because a high demand for labour coupled with a shortage of people with the required skills is likely to make matters worse.

Raising awareness of potential problems is just one of the many steps that need to be taken to start reducing the number of accidents and illnesses experienced in the construction sector.

It’s essential for all organisations to not only have robust emergency response plans and procedures for handling on-site incidents, but to also train staff on how to implement them should the worst occur.  

Chief Executive at the British Safety Council, Mike Robinson, told the news provider that better training for staff at all levels is vital to keep the industry safe.

“With increasing concern about a potential skills gap in the coming years, improving standards is vital to attract young talent into the construction industry and help to push back against uncertainty,” he commented.

As well as taking steps to improve construction safety and training in this area, there’s also a need for clear reporting of incidents and a way to ensure that mistakes are learned from.

Workers have to feel empowered and engaged to report problems as they see them, as well as to share details of incidents, is vital for this to work effectively. From a management perspective, it’s essential to encourage staff to report incidents and share details of health and safety problems to help the sector improve.

A recent article for Planning and Building Control Today highlighted some of the steps employers need to take to improve safety on construction sites.

Top of the list was conducting regular and thorough risk assessments, and making sure that any concerns that are raised during these assessments are properly addressed.

It’s also essential to look at ways of preventing falls from height, given how devastating their consequences can be. Safety net systems, guard rails and using aerial lifts are just some of the suggestions made by the news provider.