Last updated: 10.08.18

Five common health and safety risks in construction

Managing health and safety in construction can be a big challenge. Construction sites are among the most risky places to work, with anyone who steps foot on a building site potentially at risk of injury.

Regardless of whether it's a residential or commercial building site, health and safety must be a key priority. The possible health and safety hazards can include working at height, heavy machinery, and materials being moved across the construction site.

Who manages health and safety at a construction site?

It’s the responsibility of construction site managers to make sure that all construction staff have received health and safety training, which can be arranged through Virtual College's e-learning Learning Management System.

Health and Safety Executive statistics show that construction workers in the UK suffer an average of 64,000 work-related injuries each year, with 196 fatalities recorded from 2016-17, so it is essential that site managers are doing all they can to prevent incidents.

So, what are the most common health and safety risks in construction that workers need to be trained in avoiding?

1. Slips, trips and falls

Uneven terrain, muddy walkways and obstacles caused by equipment can all be health and safety risks on construction sites, increasing the risk of slips, trips and falls that could result in injury.

Health and safety training will help construction workers to know how to reduce hazards when digging holes, walking by ditches, carrying bricks and operating machinery, so it is vital that site managers invest in this.

2. Working at height

Falls from height are the single biggest cause of construction site fatalities, accounting for 49 per cent of incidents from 2016 to 2017. Whether staff are working on scaffolding, in a crane or in a scissor lift, they need to undertake dedicated Working at Height training, which can be delivered via Virtual College's e-learning platform.

A working at height course will help to educate workers about how they can minimise the risk to both themselves and others.

3. Moving objects

Bricks, mortar, machinery, tools and other materials all need moving around construction sites, which can pose a danger to the person doing the moving, and to others in the vicinity.

Diggers, excavators and transporters moving objects will always be a risk, and the uneven, muddy terrain that they have to travel over can present additional hazards.

Construction health and safety training should therefore address how to avoid these risks as best as possible to keep potential harm at bay.

4. Electricity

Electrical installations pose fresh risks of their own, with the introduction of new cabling to a working construction site increasing the chances of electrocution.

Ensuring that only trained and qualified electricians are responsible for electrical jobs can help to lower this risk, as can providing basic hazard awareness training to all construction workers to further minimise risks.

5. Noise

Noise can be another health and safety risk in construction, as high-volume drilling and machinery can cause lasting damage to workers' hearing unless protective equipment is worn and the correct training has been given.

Health and safety is always an issue in construction, but by ensuring that everyone on-site has undergone the correct training, construction health and safety risks can be minimised and the chances of successfully dealing with common problems increased.

Check out the full range of Virtual College health and safety courses here.