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Last updated: 13.04.17

Top 5 health and safety risks in construction

Why is Health and Safety important?

Construction sites can be some of the most risky and challenging places to work if you’re not careful, with anyone who steps onto a site to carry out work running the potential risk of injury.

Health and Safety policy is frequently the target of criticism, with many people - both employees and employers alike - seeing it as potentially overbearing, cumbersome, and overall unnecessary. However, Health and Safety is an important factor to consider within every workplace, no matter which industry you are part of, as it safeguards people from potential harm that could happen on the premises.

Who needs Health and Safety training?

Whether it's retail, residential or commercial building, construction sites are some of the riskiest places for people to work due to the nature of what's being built. With people working at height, operating heavy machinery and moving materials across the site throughout any day, there's always a chance of something going wrong. 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. Online Health and Safety courses, such as the ones run by Virtual College, aim to reduce this number by offering an easily accessible platform to inform those working within construction of the risks and how to reduce potential injuries.

What are the top 5 Health and Safety risks in construction?

Here, we take a look at just a few of the most common health and safety risks that exist on building sites which could result in injury.

  1. Slips, trips and falls

Uneven terrain, muddy walkways and various bit of idle equipment are things you’re almost certain to find on a building site, so it shouldn’t come as a surprise that construction workers are at risk of tripping or falling at work. With various ditches and holes being dug and heavy materials knocking around, it's important that people are always on their toes and avoiding risks as best they can. Training courses make people more aware of the potential risks on site as well as how to safely store equipment and materials to minimise the risk of someone falling.

Get more information on how to prevent these accidents check out our Slips, Trips and Falls course and protect your employees.

  1. Working at height

As one of the riskiest working conditions possible, working at height is arguably the single biggest cause of fatalities and injuries in the world. It’s likely that if you work on construction site then you will at some point be required to work off the ground during your career. Whether it’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. Correct training on the best practices for working at height plays an essential role in employees avoiding risky situations.

Ensure your employees know how to work at height safely with our full Introduction to Working at Height course.

  1. Moving objects

Whether it's bricks and mortar, essential machinery, or any other materials and tools, there’s always an element of danger when these things are being moved around a busy building site where lots of people will be working all at once. 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 colliding 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 with care.

Get more information on how to safely move objects with our online Manual Handling Course.

  1. Electricity

Electricity is one of the risks that people often forget when working within construction, but presents a substantial risk to everyone on site. Electrical installation is a critical part of a building’s construction, and for those who are not trained electricians, this presents all new problems. There will be multiple instances of cabling coming in and being connected around the building, 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.

  1. Noise

For those who aren’t familiar with the conditions on a building site, this risk may come as a surprise. Noise is a very big issue for those running building companies, both for the builders who are on site and those nearby. 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 which can lead to deafness.

On any construction site, the risk of injury is high to all workers. However, with good training practices for everyone working on site, whether that’s in the form of a Health and Safety certificate or otherwise, the chances of dealing successfully with some of the most common problems on building sites are greatly increased.

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