Construction Health and Safety
Despite the economic downturn, the construction industry remains to date one of the major UK industries, employing over two million people or 7% of the working population. Construction still represents one of the most hazardous businesses to work in, and the statistics of reported accidents for 2010/11 period are not great news. Fifty fatal accidents, 2298 major injuries and 1.7 million lost working days due to ill health are certainly a concern for everybody involved in the industry. So construction health and safety is a huge issue.
Accidents do happened and it is not possible to prevent each and every danger. But practice demonstrates that when the correct attitude is taken, the possibility to avoid accidents is much higher.
So, “that will do” must be forgotten and “what if” has to be remembered at all times. Preparation and prevention are key factors for construction health and safety.
This train of thought is more valid now than it ever has been, due to the recent changes in legislation and the re- enforcement of the rules for construction health and safety.
Construction Health and Safety
construction is considered to be a high risk activity and Fees for Intervention will almost certainly be charged when a material breach with the law is detected during the increased routine inspections.
If it so happens that your business is due to have a visit from the HSE, bear in mind that matters likely to be most looked at (the most hazardous and potentially catastrophic) would be: working at height, asbestos risks, provision of welfare facilities, good order, all respiratory risks. But they will also be considering organizational issues like the level of effectiveness of leadership, managements and worker involvement in construction health and safety matters, general competence and training of the workforce.
Anybody is liable to encounter a site visit. It doesn’t matter how big or small a company.
The main types of business at the top of the hit list for construction health and safety would be licensed and licensing asbestos work, small sites, refurbishment projects and of course major contractors and clients.
So this should not be seen as a time to take health and safety lightly or to cut corners with your construction health and safety budget.
There are 300.000 construction firms in UK, including one man self-employed firms up to big companies undertaking national and international projects. But most fatal injuries occur on small building projects where safety is sometimes overlooked and where there is a lack of precaution and training.
Over 60% of those deaths involve working at height- falls from ladders, scaffold towers, roofs etc. Small builders are regulated by Construction, Design and Management Regulations 2007 (CDM), under which legislation a small builder is a contractor who has certain minimal safety obligations for his workforce, the client and the public.
A small builder is classed here as a contractor undertaking private domestic projects such as refurbishments, extensions etc. where the safety responsibility for the site is only to the contractor. When undertaking smaller business projects, refurbishments and repairs, up to 30 days duration, the construction health and safety responsibility is shared with the client.
The main obligations of a contractor are to manage the risks and hazards of the site, conduct the appropriate risk assessments and method statements and aim to always prevent and avoid any risks. This also includes assessing and preventing access of the public to the site, correct management and supervision of work, assuring your workforce has the required equipment and training for that particular job and arrangement of welfare facilities.
Another important factor is assuring your-self that each of the employees has the correct information about PPE, general site safety, site rules and emergency procedures.
As always involve the workforce to a point where they can really embrace the construction health and safety values that help create a general good level of safety culture among employees.
Situational awareness (successfully implemented in major construction companies) is a key factor which can prevent workplace accidents. It is part of good team and good communication while on site.
And finally find ways to communicate and educate your employees to ensure they take care of each other by overlooking what the surrounding teams are doing, which would help to spot and prevent possible hazards.
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