5 ways to keep your construction workers safe on site

Few industries are as hazardous as construction

The construction sector accounts for a quarter of all fatal injuries to workers in the UK. So no job in the field is more vital then than protecting the 2.2 million people employed in the industry.

Here are our top 5 ways to keep your construction workers safe on site:

1. Conduct a comprehensive risk assessment

It’s imperative at the outset of any construction project to identify any potential risks. A full risk assessment will help you ensure all employees are aware of any potential hazards and how to avoid them.

A risk assessment should examine:

  • The layout and size of the workplace
  • Number of people on the site
  • Type of work that will be carried out and how long the job will take
  • Conditions of work – eg, are there sloping surfaces, will it rain or flood? Are there any electrical hazards or potential falling materials?
  • Are walkways and fire exit routes clear of rubbish and equipment?
  • How easy is it to access equipment from where the work will take place?
  • Are risks clearly marked?

2. Obtain an appropriate mix of life safety products

The risk assessment will then clarify exactly which products your site requires to protect workers in the event of fire or accidents. From fire extinguishers and alarm systems to first aid equipment and spill kits. Having the right equipment to hand, could make the difference between life and death for you and your workers.

If you’re unsure of which fire extinguisher to have on site, then you’re not alone. A recent survey conducted revealed that more than 38% of workers are using the wrong type of fire extinguisher for electrical fires. With more than 10% suggesting a foam extinguisher to put out an electrical fire.

Extinguishers should be appropriate to the nature of a fire:

  • Wood, paper and cloth – water extinguisher
  • Flammable liquids – dry powder and foam extinguisher
  • Electrical – carbon dioxide (C02) extinguisher

3. Train staff in safety awareness and best practice

Workers should play a pivotal role in mitigating health and safety risks. So training is a vital part of avoiding accidents and injuries.

All employees should be familiar with the following:

  • Site evacuation procedure including nearest exits flagged by signage
  • Risks associated with the employee’s working environment and main duties
  • Location of fire protection and first aid equipment
  • How to use equipment and how to ensure proper use
  • Point of contact during emergencies
  • How to report hazards and what risks to look out for

4. Provide adequate first aid

Access to first aid can help an injured person make a quicker recovery and even save a life. If your employees become ill or fall injured at work, you are legally required to provide appropriate equipment, facilities and personnel to administer first aid.

The minimum provision for all sites is:

  • First aid box with enough equipment for number of workers on site
  • Appointed person to take charge of first aid arrangements
  • Clear information telling workers the identity of appointed first aid person and where/how to find them

First aid arrangements should cover shifts, night and weekend working so managers may need to appoint or train several people to ensure adequate cover.

5. Adhere to work-at-height regulations

Falls, which account for 50% of fatalities, are the most common cause of death in the construction industry. Precautions must be taken to prevent or reduce the risk of injury before any work is undertaken at height.

The Health and Safety Executive advises site managers to ask themselves:

  • Have you thought about whether you can avoid working at height by using different equipment or a different work method?
  • Can you use equipment that will prevent a fall from happening such as scaffolding or a mobile elevating work platform?
  • Can you put in place measures to reduce the distance and consequences of a fall should one happen, for example, nets, soft landing systems or safety decks?
  • Will the weather conditions threaten the health and safety of those carrying out the work?
  • Have you thought about all the options and are you certain that you’re gaining access to height using the safest means possible?