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An easy guide to Health & Safety in construction

By Kim Latham

According to Health & Safety Executive, (HSE) “all workers have a right to work in places where risks to their health and safety (H & S) are properly controlled. H & S is about stopping you getting hurt at work or ill through work. Your employer is responsible for health and safety, but you must help.” It is in nobody’s interest to cut corners when it comes to people’s H & S and construction sites are certainly not the place to start. Whichever sector you’re working in, you deserve to know that your workplace and workforce is safe, secure, and an efficient place to be.

UK-wide government construction news

The UK Government is currently conducting an open consultation called ‘Building a Safer Future’ that consists of recommendations for a future proposal to improve safety and minimize the risk of fire in high-rise buildings, following the tragedy at Grenfell Towers. This consultation paper has been created to deal with wider problems and the Government’s need to make changes to the building safety system.

This consultation sets out how it plans to overhaul the system for high-rise residential buildings through:

  • Clearer responsibilities for those building or managing these buildings;
  • A stronger voice in the system and better information for residents;
  • Greater oversight by regulators; and
  • Tougher enforcement when things go wrong.

    Is H & S making people’s lives easier and safer?

    With over 2.2 million lost days a year due to work-related injuries, it is vital that both employers and employees collectively take on the responsibility of keeping each other safe onsite. Did you know that 3% of all construction workers in the UK sustain work related injuries and around 4% are suffering from a work related illness, according to Onsite Support. What’s more, around 80,000 construction workers suffer from work-related health issues each year and 64,000 suffer non-fatal injuries, says NBS, a technology platform for the construction industry.

    From building collapse, to machinery malfunction, to falling tiles, working on a busy construction site comes with its own unique risks and therefore H & S is of vital importance when it comes to staying safe and well.

    “The importance of H & S on a construction site to us is to empower everyone, not just our direct staff, but everyone that steps foot on our projects and everyone that works for or on behalf of the Walters Group to STOP work if they see an unsafe act, to report it, and make steps to put it right, that way we can send everyone home to their families as safe as they arrived,” says Alyn Tomkinson, Systems & Safety Manager at Walters Group.

    Ongoing training

    The HSE states employers must “ensure that all persons who work equipment have received adequate training for the purposes of health and safety, including training in the methods which may be adopted when using work equipment.”

    The Construction Industry Training Board (CITB) works with the construction industry to address challenges and also to help workers in this sector keep up-to-date on qualifications and training.

    If you’re responsible for teams of workers, it is of vital importance that you keep yourself in the loop on the latest health and safety laws, qualifications, training, technology and first aid.

     

    The CITB provide three health, safety and environment tests – operatives, specialists, and managers and professionals.

    Operatives:

    The HS&E test is made up of 50 questions covering five core knowledge areas:

    • legal and management
    • health and welfare
    • general safety
    • high risk activities
    • environment

    Specialists:

    These tests include questions about the five core knowledge areas as well as relevant questions in the chosen specialist areas. The Specialists test can be taken in the following topics:

    • supervisory (SUP)
    • demolition (DEM)
    • plumbing (JIB) (PLUM)
    • highway works (HIW)
    • specialist work at height (WAH)
    • lifts and escalators (LAEE)
    • tunnelling (TUNN)
    • HVACR – heating and plumbing services (HAPS)
    • HVACR – pipefitting and welding (PFW)
    • HVACR – ductwork (DUCT)
    • HVACR – refrigeration and air conditioning (RAAC)
    • HVACE – services and facilities maintenance (SAF)

    Managers and Professionals:

    This test covers the same five core areas but also includes questions on the following topics:

    • construction (design and management) regulations
    • demolition
    • highway works

    Top 3 safety tips

    Inspect equipment

    To avoid accidents, all equipment on building sites needs to be checked on a regular basis and it is imperative that damaged or broken tools and equipment is reported and logged as many incidents can often be avoided if senior management on construction sites are informed of any problems.

    Always wear the correct clothing

    According to StaySafe, hardhats, safety boots and high visibility clothing, safety googles, high-grip gloves, noise cancellation ear-muffs, and, respiratory masks are a must. Such equipment will help alleviate hazardous accidents and it is vital staff have access to these items.

    Take regular breaks

    It’s extremely important to take regular food and drink breaks in a bid to keep yourself focused on the job at hand to be able to continue to concentrate.

     

    As with any sector one works in, it’s important to take breaks and to ensure you’ve had something to eat and drink. Not doing so results in a loss of concentration and when someone is hungry or thirsty it also affects mood. Take some time out – your safety or a colleague’s safety may depend on it.

    Insurance for construction workers

    Why do builders need builders’ professional indemnity insurance?

    As well as giving advice to clients, amending designs, calculations and drawings, a building contractor is obviously required to build the development/project assigned.

    During one of these stages a mistake might happen and an unwitting act – or a failure to act – in a way that results in financial loss to a client or even an injury or death of an individual due to the consequences of your error. In such circumstances, substantial claims for compensation from the parties who have suffered any loss or damage could be made.

    The claims could be so substantial that it proves difficult for your business to meet the demand for compensation or to pay damages from your own pocket. If this happens, your building business may be facing financial ruin and your reputation could be in tatters.

     

    At constructaquote.com we specialise in the provision of builders’ insurance, which offers indemnity against claims alleging negligence in the way you have conducted your business.

    Click here to download your FREE Risk Assessment Checklist

    Disclaimer: The advice provided here are our own interpretations and opinions. We have tried to simplify the main points to create this article and the information provided is for general informational purposes only. While we try to keep the information up-to-date and correct, there are no representations or warranties, express or implied, about the completeness, accuracy, reliability, suitability or availability with respect to the information, products, services, or related graphics contained in this blog for any purpose. Any use of this information is at your own risk.

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