Did you know that construction is the most dangerous land-based work sector in all of Europe? Almost 13 workers in every 100,000 will be involved in a fatal accident while working on a construction site. Construction workers are at risk for a huge number of dangers while they are performing their work, many of which can be serious or fatal.
The issue with construction sites is not that the risks and dangers are unknown. The danger is more that these risks are difficult to control, as the work environment is always changing.
Let’s take a look at what some of the major risks are for construction workers and how employers can ensure that these workers are safe.
What Are the Major Hazards to Construction Workers?
What are some of the biggest safety hazards to construction workers? Here are a few of the major issues:
- Electrocution – Construction workers working around electricity are at risk of shock and electrocution.
- Falls from Height – Many accidents have occurred from construction workers falling from a height, causing serious injury and even death.
- Being Struck by Falling Objects – This is a risk for employees, as well as other members of the public walking past construction sites.
- Vehicles and Traffic Management – There are risks for employees when they are operating vehicles on the job, as well as working around traffic.
- Hazardous Materials – Dangerous substances such as asbestos, chemicals and other hazards can be a risk in the workplace.
- Noise and Vibration – The loud noises and the vibration of the construction equipment can cause permanent long term damage to hearing and the musculoskeletal system.
These are just a few of the serious risks that are prevalent in the construction site environment. It is important to be aware of these risks so that they can be managed and prevented.
Conducting Risk Assessments
In order to become aware of hazards so that they can be prevented before an accident occurs, it is necessary to know how to conduct a risk assessment in the workplace. A risk assessment is a very thorough examination of the workplace or project and is looking for any potential causes of harm.
Once these risks have been identified, you can come up with a plan for how to reduce, eliminate or avoid the danger all together. The findings of this risk assessment and the solutions should be recorded and explained to everyone else too, especially if your workplace has over five employees as this is legally required.
Promoting a Culture of Health and Safety
It is also very important to make sure that everyone in your workplace is on board with a commitment to health and safety. It does no good to have safe working procedures if your employees don’t listen to them and cut corners to get around them.
To ensure that your employees are invested in health and safety, there should be a positive culture around it that rewards them for conducting their job in a safe way. Consider offering incentives that reward a commitment to health and safety. Also, make sure that your targets and timelines are realistic – many employees resort to doing things unsafely when they think that they need to cut corners to finish something faster.
It is also crucial to make sure that your employees feel like they can approach you at any time about health and safety issues. Sometimes employees don’t feel comfortable bringing up issues with their employer, so these risks go unmanaged. Keep an open door policy and reward your employees for contributing to the health and safety operations of the business whenever possible. For more information about this subject read our post how to promote a positive health and safety culture and how and when to talk to workers about health and safety.
Ensure Equipment and Tools Are Functioning Well
There has been a tragic amount of workplace accidents that have occurred due to malfunctioning equipment and tools, often due to a lack of maintenance and testing. If your employees work with machinery or tools, it is essential that this equipment is maintained and checked on a regular basis.
Perform maintenance checks on your equipment on a regular basis and if anything is functioning incorrectly make sure that it is replaced or maintained immediately. If your equipment has started to age, invest in new equipment before it causes an accident!
The same is true for any personal protective equipment that your employees wear. Having ear protectors, eye shields, gloves and other protective wear is very important for keeping them safe, but if that protective gear starts to wear or break down it will not be doing its job.
Keep Up to Date on Health and Safety Training
It is crucial to ensure that you are up to date with your health and safety training, so that you will be best informed on how to protect your employees from hazards. There are many great health and safety training courses out there that will give you the skills and information that you need, so make sure that you choose a course that is relevant to the particular type of construction site you will be working on.
On all construction sites, employers must only employ workers who are able to provide evidence that they have training and experience in particular equipment, machinery and tools. If they fail to comply with these requirements, they can be subject to fines.
One of the excellent courses is the one day site safety plus health and safety awareness course. It is design for those who are in the civil engineering or construction industry and it helps them to understand the potential hazards of the workplace. After completing this course, employees could progress to the SSSTS course – Site Supervisors Safety Training Scheme, alternatively the SMSTS course – Site Management Safety Training Scheme which are designed for anyone who is supervising or managing a team of employees.
With the right health and safety training for your industry, you will be able to ensure that you have all the information you need to protect the health of your employees. Also, when your employees are correctly trained they will be able to carry out the tasks that you ask of them in a safe way.
These are just a few of the ways that you can ensure that your site workers are safe at the construction site you are managing.