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The construction industry can be a dangerous one, which is why it’s important to continuously review your health and safety practices. According to the HSE, 79,000 construction workers in the UK suffered from work-related ill health in 2019. What’s more, there were 30 fatal injuries in 2018, and there are approximately 54,000 non-fatal injuries each year.
Know the risks
Properly educating yourself on the risks is the first step toward prevention, and this goes for both employers and staff members. The most common risks present in construction include the following:
- Working from a height
Working from a height is a major cause of fatalities within the construction sector. To prevent such accidents, it’s highly important to secure ladders and scaffolding properly and provide the correct protection from the edge. Guardrails should be used, and spaces should be pre-checked for hazards, including any loose materials or tools. Ensure that you provide your staff with the best Building Access Equipment so that they can remain safe when accessing high buildings.
- Trips and Falls
Trips and falls are a common injury on construction sites, yet the good news is that these kinds of injuries are generally preventable with the proper site management. Many falls are due to uneven surfaces, and these can be prevented by offering clear and flat paths on each site. It’s also important to make sure that such areas are well lit. There should be no trailing cables, so it can be a good idea to make use of cordless tools as much as possible. Make sure that all slippery surfaces are indicated with signposts and provide your employees with appropriate footwear with a strong grip. As well as this, clear all spaces of obstacles before permitting work to go ahead.
Airborne toxins can contribute to breathing problems, and so appropriate measures should be taken on-site at all times. The construction industry has been known to contribute to instances of lung damage, including the inhaling of chemicals found in glues, varnishes, paints, or insulation materials. The dust generated in site clean-ups may also contain toxins, depending on the materials that have been used. To avoid damage to the health, it’s important to ensure that employees wear the correct PPE at all times.
PPE is also important to protect employees from noise hazards on site. Repeated exposure to loud noises can put hearing health at risk over time. Generally speaking, noises over 85dB are considered harmful, and so earplugs and earmuffs must be used. Even with such protection, it’s a good idea to rotate the tasks so that no single employee is exposed to dangerous noise levels for too long.
Above are just a few of the risks posed to construction site workers. Other risks include moving objects, harm from electricity, or asbestos. To improve your safety practices in general, the key thing to do is to prioritise training. Train every employee appropriately on everything from forklift driving to what to do if they suspect asbestos. Anyone who is going to have anything to do with the wiring on your site should, without exception, be in possession of the most up-to-date qualifications, or immediately signed up to do 18th edition courses to make sure that they’re ready to safely do the work they need to do.
It’s a good idea to invest in some on-site sensors which can identify any toxins in the air. Such sensors can also be used to measure moisture levels and temperature as required. Technology can also come in handy in the use of drones for site surveys. Drones can be useful to supervise workers to make sure that they remain safe plus to survey the area for any hazards.
Hold safety meetings daily before work begins. Have the site assessed for hazards and outline potential risks and how to manage them. Ask for your staff feedback on any ideas they have concerning safety or anything else they need to complete their role. Assessing the site merely once, at the beginning of the job, is not advisable. Hazards can change daily as site work progresses, so it’s important that the assessment of safety is an ongoing process.
Lastly, employees being under the influence in the workplace is often a problem across many industries. According to a survey by Alcohol Change UK, 35% of people reported that they had noticed colleagues under the influence at work. The same source indicates that the UK loses as much as 7 billion a year, due to a loss of productivity, that can be attributed to alcohol. With this in mind, alcohol and drugs testing can be an advisable idea to improve workplace health and safety.