The construction industry accounts for over 3.1 million jobs – working out at over 9% of total UK employment. Due to the nature of the work, it’s one of the UK’s most dangerous job roles. In 2019/20, the HSE reported the deaths of 40 construction workers, with 81,000 others suffering work-related ill health. Construction workers are exposed to a range of hazards that can increase their risk of injury or death. Risks to construction staff include falls from height, machinery malfunctions, electrocution, falling objects, and structural collapses – to name a few.
View our lone worker guide: risks to lone workers in the construction industry
As an employer, it may be tempting to cut corners to save costs; but with workplace related injuries being the cause of over 1.6 million lost work days annually, it’s in everybody’s best interest to prioritise construction site safety.
There are a number of ways to improve health and safety in your workplace, and it doesn’t have to cost an arm and a leg. We’ve put together a list of our top 7 safety tips for construction workers, so everyone has more chance of keeping their body parts…
1. Ensure employees wear the correct protective gear.
Wearing the correct personal protective equipment (PPE) could mean the difference between a minor injury and a long term injury or even a fatality.
It’s important to provide your employees with the appropriate PPE relative to the type of work being carried out. This can include helmets, ear protection, safety goggles, knee pads and hi-vis jackets. If they become worn or unfit for purpose, they need to be replaced immediately. Make sure they wear them, too!
2. Correctly construct and maintain scaffolding
When erecting scaffolding, there should be no shortcuts or improvisations. It should be built on stable ground with solid footing to eradicate the risk of it collapsing. Be sure to maintain and repair any damage or inconsistencies of the structure, as well as ensuring that all employees using the scaffolding have an adequate level of scaffolding safety training; falls from height account for 47% of construction worker injuries.
3. Health & safety training
Construction workers operating in high and medium risk environments are required to have sufficient construction health and safety training. They should be fully competent and aware of the risks associated with their actions, especially when working at height, with machinery or in confined spaces. It is also advised that they have an appropriate awareness of first aid and are able to administer basic life-saving techniques if necessary.
Download our free guide to lone worker safety to find out more about protecting your staff
4. Display clear signs
Construction sites are full of potential dangers, not just for workers but for the public too. It’s important to highlight any hazards with signs and posters, warning everyone nearby to take precautions. Signs are a cost-effective way of reducing accidents, which could indicate dangers such as falling objects, turning large vehicles or presence of gas/chemicals.
5. Use technology
In today’s technological world, almost every adult in the UK owns a mobile phone – a majority of these being smartphones.
A lone worker safety device is a discreet and undetectable tool, app or service which allows for communication with employers, or in more serious situations, emergency services. The StaySafe App offers visibility of lone worker locations, with life-saving features including a panic button, check-in, low signal mode and low battery reminders. The app also features a man down alarm that will send an alert through the hub if a lone worker has not moved for a prolonged period of time. It is an excellent way to enhance construction site safety.
6. Inspect tools and equipment regularly
Construction workers rely on their tools to work efficiently and get jobs done. If their tools are unsafe or broken, there are higher risks of serious accidents including the loss of limbs. Around 2.8% of workers in the construction sector suffered from an injury in 2019/20 – this is statistically significantly higher than the all-industry injury rate.
Equipment should regularly be inspected to ensure there are no equipment malfunctions or defects. It is both the responsibility of the worker and the employer to highlight issues with defective equipment.
Communication is a major factor in keeping employees safe. Staff should communicate with each other and with any alternative party if they identify potential risks. Those working onsite should be aware of existing potential hazards but also have a conscious awareness of other dangers.
Employees should be regularly asked about what they think could make their job safer and have the opportunity to report any accidents or near-misses. Staff do not always feel comfortable reporting an accident at work – so it is important that you create a positive safety culture in your workplace. To ensure that you comply with health and safety legislation, you should also ensure that you have completed thorough risk assessments for all your places of work.
As part of your risk assessment you may find you need to provide a better way for your construction workers to communicate with you and be located quickly in an emergency. The StaySafe app and cloud-based monitoring hub is used by hundreds of clients and tens of thousands of users worldwide who testify to its ease of use, reliability and flexibility.