Construction sites are dangerous places. Statistics show that, on average, a person is killed every four days and hundreds are injured. More worryingly, if you work in the construction industry for twenty years, you have a one in two chance of being injured.
It might not happen of course and even if it it does, it may not be a serious injury. But do you really want to take the risk? The obvious answer is no and you can reduce the chances of injury with a few sensible precautions.
Every employer has a legal duty of care to all employees. On construction sites, they have to prepare risk assessments that identify potential hazards and method statements that set out how jobs are to be done properly and safely.
As an employee, you also have a legal duty under the Health and Safety at Work Act to take reasonable care of yourself and others.
Aside from any legal obligations, it makes sense to take care on a construction site. It’s not complicated — it’s mainly being alert to dangers and taking sensible precautions. In effect, watch what you’re doing.
• Get some training, at least enough to complete the CSCS health, safety & environment test so you can qualify for a CSCS card and are allowed on a construction site.
• Wear supplied PPE — hard hat, hi-vis vest, safety boots, ear and eye protectors and gloves – whatever is necessary for the job.
• Pay attention at site induction sessions, even if you think you’ve heard it all before. Every site is different so don’t miss the important points.
• Follow site rules. They’re there to help you.
• Report anything you think is unsafe and warn others.
• Make sure you stick to the marked passageways and keep clear of site traffic and machinery.
• Ensure guard rails are in place, holes are protected and walkways are free of obstructions.
• Only use passageways that are secure and adequately lit.
Working at Heights
• Scaffolding needs to be adequate, securely fastened and with safe access.
• Ladders must be secured to prevent slippage, should be on a solid surface and in good condition.
• Guard rails should be in place to prevent falls and netting provided so nothing falls on people below.
• Crawling boards and warning signs must be in place for fragile roofs.
• Cranes and hoists need to be enclosed to prevent unauthorised use.
• Full operating instructions and training should be provided for all equipment.
• Access to trenches needs to be provided.
• Material from excavations must be removed to a safe place.
• Sides are to be boarded or sloped sufficiently to prevent collapse.
• Guard rails have to be in place to ensure no-one falls in.
• Fire extinguishers and other safety equipment must be available.
• Warning notices should be clearly posted in respect of all hazardous substances.
• Medical resources need to be available in case of problems.
• The site must be guarded by an unbroken perimeter fence with a secured gate.
• Machinery must be immobilised out of working hours.
• Dangerous equipment and substances have to be locked away.