From falling objects and equipment malfunction to the increased risk of falls and electrocution, it’s easy to see why live construction sites have always had a reputation as breeding grounds for accidents and injuries.
In 1974, the Health & Safety At Work Act was introduced to encourage employers to pay more attention to the safety of their staff. In the years following the introduction of these new regulations, health and safety across UK workplaces started to show massive improvements. However, almost 50 years later, the construction industry still makes up for almost 40% of all health and safety penalties in the UK – significantly more than any other industry.
As an employer it might be tempting to cut corners with health and safety procedures in order to reduce expenses, but with the average fine costing £75,000 more than the cost of compliance, it simply isn’t worth the risk.
In this blog, we take a look at 7 crucial health & safety tips to follow when on a construction site.
Wear The Appropriate PPE
Wearing the appropriate Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) is one of the easiest and most cost-effective ways to prevent health and safety incidents on-site. As a bare minimum, PPE should include a safety helmet, eye protection, gloves, safety footwear and hi-vis clothing. However, employers that want to go above and beyond should also consider investing in additional protective gear such as respiratory masks, soundproof ear muffs, chemical suits and so on. We’d also recommend familiarising yourself with the Personal Protective Equipment At Work Regulations (1992) to ensure that you’re adhering to the general guidelines.
Staying hydrated is by far one of the most crucial health and safety recommendations on this list, but also one of the easiest to overlook; the same goes for eating enough food. When we haven’t had enough to eat or drink, concentration levels drop and we tend to become a lot more irritable. This is a situation that can prove disastrous on a live construction site, especially on a hot day. As a site manager, it’s important to ensure that your employees take regular breaks and have enough water to stay properly hydrated throughout the day.
Use Hazard Signs
From electrical and chemical hazards to slip and fall risks, it’s important that any potential dangers are labelled correctly, and at the earliest opportunity possible. With so many potential dangers on a live construction site, a well-placed hazard sign is sometimes the difference between life and death. In addition to hazard signs, it helps to log any potential hazards using a specialist real-time project management tool such as LetsBuild. These tools can be used to get a message to your whole team with the click of a button, which can prove critical when dealing with serious hazards. For any general hazard that doesn’t have a relevant warning or prohibition sign then black and yellow hazard tape can be used to warn anyone passing the area. Even if it’s not your duty to assign hazard signs, it’s still highly important to report any potential issues to the site manager as soon as possible.
Keep Work Areas Tidy
It’s not very realistic to expect everything on a building site to be clean and tidy, but simply ensuring that all tools and materials have been put away correctly will help to minimise any unnecessary incidents. From loose nails on the floor to dangerous chemicals being left open with no lid, there are countless things that might create a serious hazard. It’s also important to ensure that walkways are clear at all times – even something as minor as a misplaced brick could cause someone to trip up whilst carrying dangerous or heavy equipment.
Health & Safety Training
All construction workers require some form of health and safety training, but this is even more important for workers operating in high risk environments. Using hazard signs to highlight any potential dangers is a great way to minimise accidents on-site, however, this will only have an impact if your team actually understands what each sign means. Investing in regular health and safety training can help avoid any unnecessary accidents and teach your employees how to respond in the event of an accident.
With many building materials and chemicals containing dangerous substances, it’s very important that you keep yourself and your equipment clean where possible. We always recommend having several packs of trade-strength cleaning wipes on-site so that your team can stay clean throughout shifts. There’s nothing worse than going to rub your eyes after a long day, only to discover remnants of paint on your hands.
Misuse of tools and equipment has long been amongst the most common causes of accidents on construction sites. Whilst some injuries such as Hand-Arm Vibration Syndrome (HAVS) can still occur after years of handling vibrating machinery correctly, a lot of incidents come as a result of the misuse of dangerous equipment. Ensure that all employees are fully-qualified to use any specialist tools they may need, and don’t forget to keep a record of when their qualifications expire so that you can renew them in good time. In addition, it could be useful to keep any training manuals for specific machinery and equipment on-site so that employees can refer to them when needed.
It’s so important that you understand and follow these health and safety tips when on a construction site – not just for your own safety but also for the safety of your colleagues.