Top 5 health and safety risks in construction
Construction sites can be some of the most risky and challenging places to work, with the prospect of injury for anyone who steps onto a site to carry out work.
Whether it's retail, residential or commercial building, construction sites are some of the most risky places for people to work, due to the nature of what's being manufactured Should ‘manufactured’ be changed to ‘built’? . With people working at height, heavy machinery and materials being moved all over the site throughout any day, there's always a chance of injury, and companies need to do their best to mitigate against this through schemes such as risk awareness pushes and increases in training for staff.
Each year, the Health and Safety Executive estimates, as many as three per cent of those working in the construction industry - around 60,000 to 70,000 - report an injury at work, far higher than in most other employment sectors.
Here, we take a look at just a few of the most common health and safety risks that exist on building sites.
Slips, trips and falls
With uneven terrain, muddy walkways and various equipment and materials around, it's no great surprise that construction workers are at risk of tripping or falling at work. With various ditches and holes being dug, and bricks, mortar and machinery lying around, it's important that people are always on their toes and avoiding risks as best they can. Training allows people to have the knowledge of what they need to make sure they are always looking out for potential risks on site.
Working at height
Probably the single biggest cause of fatalities and injuries in the world of construction, working at height is the riskiest of all working conditions. Those on construction sites will be, at some point in their career, working off the ground. Whether that's on scaffolding, in a crane or a scissor lift, each comes with their own unique risk of falling and a real danger of someone coming crashing back down to earth and injuring themselves, or someone else, if they haven't been trained on the best practices for working at height.
Whether it's bricks and mortar, essential machinery or any other materials and tools, things being moved around the work site are always likely to be a danger to anyone working there. Construction sites can be small spaces at times, so any large diggers, excavators and transporters moving things from A to B will always be at risk of coming into contact with someone working there, while the uneven roadways and muddy conditions increase the chances of materials being dropped and machinery veering off course, which can put anyone on site at risk if not handled well.
Probably one of the risks that few people think about in the world of construction, but one of the biggest dangers nonetheless, centres around electricity. With any new building, electrical installation has to come at some point, and for those who are not trained electricians, this presents all new problems, with cabling coming in and being connected, increasing the chances of electrocution on a busy site where other work is likely still ongoing. It's important to always make sure only trained and qualified electricians are working on electrical jobs to lower the risk.
Another it’s probably a surprise to most people who have not experienced a construction site, noise is a very big issue for those running building companies. If people are not afforded the right protective equipment and trained on the dangers that loud noises can cause, then there are real dangers of workers suffering long-term hearing damage.
On any construction site, the risk of injury is high to all workers. However, with good training practices for everyone working on site, the chances of dealing successfully with some of the most common problems and risks are greatly increased.