The Importance of Health and Safety in Construction
There is a great emphasis on the importance of health and safety in construction due to the high level of risk and danger on construction sites. Due to this importance, many regulations are put in place to ensure that the environment is as safe as possible. This article will discuss why health and safety are so important and the various methods to enforce it. Some of these methods include protective equipment, authority cards and regulated actions.
The Health and Safety Risks
There are a huge number of health and safety risks that can be present on a construction site. To name a few…
- Working at heights
- Operating machinery
- Lifting heavy materials and objects
- Inhalation of dust
- Other serious health issues
There can be lots of materials used within a project that can have a negative effect on our health. Dermatitis is common with construction workers due to dust and chemicals. Injuries are also common if the rules and regulations are not perfectly followed. It is vital that all members of staff are trained in health and safety and understand the rules and regulations. A lack of knowledge in this area could cause danger.
A lack of knowledge about health and safety procedures can mean that someone’s life is changed forever. They could have a severe injury or even die from injuries. There is also a big risk to the construction company being involved in a severe legal claim if there is negligence on their part.
Ensuring Health and Safety
It is a large part of a construction managers role to ensure that a project runs without risks. They are responsible for ensuring that all regulations are met and that all employees wear the appropriate protective clothing. This is especially important for those in site supervisory roles.
Health and safety are not only important for workers. It is also important for those who may come into contact with the site. If they are not adequately protected then this could lead to large claims against the construction company.
One of the ways that the industry responds to the importance of health and safety in construction is by conducting regular risk assessments. It is a legal requirement under The Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations 1999. Site managers, project managers or health and safety personnel usually undertake risk assessments. Health and safety risk assessments should identify risks and evaluate those risks. The assessment should determine the level of risk. Additionally, control measures should be put in place to minimise these risks as much as reasonably possible. Efforts should be made to minimise risks even when that risk is low.
Furthermore, risk assessments should be conducted throughout the project. For example, if the workers start using different machinery then an assessment should be done to ensure that no new risks arise without controls. Additionally, if there are any accidents during work, a full assessment of risk will be undertaken to ensure it does not happen again.
Relevant Regulations and Laws
There is a range of different rules and regulations that are legally binding on construction workers and employers. These regulations are in place to ensure that all potential risks can be minimised. Furthermore, it outlines the actions that must be taken, should any risks occur.
The Construction (Design and Management) Regulations 2015 (CDM 2015) is one of the main regulations that covers managing health, safety and welfare in construction projects. Depending on an individuals role, this regulation outlines their specific responsibilities to ensure that they adhere to health and safety. Some examples are as follows:
Designers involved in a construction project should control, eliminate or reduce foreseeable risks during building, maintenance or after the building is complete.
Contractors must plan, monitor and control construction work. This is so that it can be carried out without risks.
In addition to the responsibilities of individual roles, the regulation sets out the general health and safety requirements throughout the construction site. Some of these include (not a conclusive list):
- Place of construction work
- Stability of structures
- Demolition and explosives
- Inspection reports
- Emergency procedures
- Emergency exits
Other Relevant Regulations
One of the relevant regulations is the Control of Asbestos Regulations 2012. It is a requirement under this regulation for a risk assessment to be undertaken to measure the level of asbestos exposure. Asbestos can cause a range of negative implications on the body. For example, it can cause asbestosis, cancer of the lungs and more. This regulation ensures that asbestos levels are not dangerous and to reduce contact as much as possible.
Secondly, the Control of Vibration at Work Regulations 2005 ensures that the risk of back injuries from powerful construction tools is minimised. These machines can cause full body vibrations damaging workers backs.
Thirdly, the Manual Handling Operations Regulations 1992 was created to ensure the safety of workers handling heavy materials and objects. This regulation makes it a legal requirement for employers to avoid the need to handle materials and objects which would be hazardous as far as reasonably practicable. Risks of handling objects and materials include injuries to the back. Employees must follow the practices suggested by the employer to reduce the risk as much as possible.
There are many more relevant laws and regulations which highlight the importance of health and safety in construction. Trained construction workers should be familiar with these regulations and follow them to avoid injuries or claims towards companies.
Implementation of Protective Gear
Another method of ensuring health and safety in construction is the implementation of protective gear. Without many of these protective aids, construction work can be very hazardous. Therefore, wearing many of the below items is a legal requirement for many construction sites.
A very important item of clothing that construction workers should wear, especially in cloudy weather, at night or when working in potentially dangerous areas, is reflective clothing. This ensures that all other construction workers are aware of where each other are. This avoids the risk of materials falling on workers, collision with vehicles, as well as other risks. In addition, reflective clothing ensures that workers are visible by pedestrians or cars. For construction workers who work on the roads, this is essential.
In addition to reflective gear, hard hats are vital to protect workers heads from falling objects. It is not uncommon when building structures for materials to fall. It is also essential to protect from bumps when working in small spaces.
A serious complication of loud machinery on construction sites is the potential to cause hearing loss without appropriate protection. Therefore, those working with diggers and drills as well as other machinery must wear ear protection.
Steel toecap boots
In addition, to avoid dropping heavy objects onto feet and potentially breaking bones, steel cap footwear is very useful.
Gloves and other skin protection
Gloves are important when coming into contact with hazardous chemicals as well as help to protect hands from cuts and grazes. Furthermore, skin protection is essential to stop conditions such as eczema and rashes from dust and other particles.
Respiratory Protective Equipment
When working with dusty materials or mixing powders for things such as concrete and grout, masks are essential. Without masks breathing in dust and gases can be very harmful. Lung disease was common before masks became an essential protective measure in construction.
Moreover, eye protection is very important. Materials could enter the eye such as dust or chemicals. Furthermore, chippings or objects could enter eyes and if serious, could cause blindness. Eye protection such as goggles is ideal for use.
Learning About Health and Safety
To respond to the importance of health and safety in construction, workers must be appropriately trained. The law does not state the level of training that has to be undertaken, but each construction company will require differing levels of health and safety training. Not only does this keep everyone on the team safe, but it also reduces the chance of any injury claims.
For those that are in managerial positions responsible for ensuring health and safety, they must have a considerable amount of training.
The College of Contract Management offers a range of courses that can give you some of the essential skills in health and safety:
During this course, you will learn about the Construction Design and Management Regulations that was discussed earlier in this article. You will learn about the responsibilities of the different roles within a construction site. Additionally, the CPD informs you of the importance of a construction phase plan and how to make one.
This course is for those who wish to become site supervisors. Within this course, there are modules covering supervising health and safety. Site supervisors have the responsibility of monitoring risks as well as controlling operations. They must promote and control safety at all times.
In addition to the site supervisory course, the site management course also focuses on health, safety and wellbeing as a compulsory module.
Why Should You Learn?
The importance of health and safety in construction is so prevalent due to the high risk of injury or illness on site. Without adequate training, the site would not be safe to work on. For those who are thinking about going into construction or are working towards it, courses in health and safety are important. Additionally, many businesses that you work for require you to have a certain level of training in this area.
Furthermore, it is likely that you will become more employable if you have a number of health and safety certificates. This shows dedication and understanding of its importance.
This article has discussed the importance of health and safety in construction. In addition, it has discussed the ways in which the industry ensures health and safety. These methods include regulations, implementation of protective gear and adequate training for all workers. It also highlighted the importance of learning about health and safety. The construction industry will continue to make improvements to the health and safety on sites.