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  • Richard Nichols

Top 10 Health & Safety Risks in Construction


How well are you managing your health and safety risks? In the UK and other countries, construction is one of the largest industries. Because of the risks associated with vehicles, equipment, and manual labour, it can be notoriously hazardous. Here are the top 10 health and safety risks associated with this sector and what can be done to mitigate them.


1. Working at Height


Construction workers are often required to work at heights. Each year, many people are injured or killed while working at heights and in the case of mobility restrictions, the risks are heightened. The safety of workers is dependent on training, and Base Solutions offers relevant courses related to working at heights. Click here to learn more


Risk factors include:

  • Unsecured scaffolding or ladders

  • Lack of safety nets or guardrails

  • Unprotected edges

  • Loose equipment stored on roofs or raised pathways

Prevention:


The HSE guidelines recommend that, if work at height cannot be avoided, a risk assessment should be done and preventative measures implemented. It is important that all work from height be planned, controlled and supervised. In addition, the workforce must be fully informed of the procedures and trained to use the equipment. Among the measures to minimize risks are safety nets, guard rails, and keeping equipment secure.

2. Slips, Trips and Falls


Considering how much is going on at construction sites on a daily basis, it's not surprising that accidents happen. When there is so much going on, you could use an extra pair of eyes to keep an eye on holes in the ground, stored materials, and equipment. Click here to learn more


Risk factors include:

  • Wet and slippery surfaces

  • Materials or equipment left unchecked

  • Uneven surfaces and ground

  • Loose cables

Prevention:


A precise work area management procedure should be adopted to ensure that tools and equipment can be stored safely after use. At all times, pathways should be kept free of debris and hazards. In addition to wearing proper PPE, crew members should attend safety meetings on a regular basis to stay current on procedures.

3. Moving Objects


During the construction process, construction sites are a mash-up of traffic and workers. You should keep an eye out for overhead lifting equipment, supply vehicles, and dumper trucks when you are manoeuvring around.


Risk factors include:

  • Poor working light

  • Heavy-duty vehicles

  • Overhead lifting equipment

  • Little space to manoeuvre

  • Working close to moving objects

Prevention:


In order to ensure that equipment is used as instructed and according to safety guidelines, work area management must be clearly defined. Workers should wear protective clothing such as high-visibility jackets to be seen by moving vehicles, as well as steel-toe shoes and helmets to protect them from falling objects. Lastly, they should be taught to stay vigilant and aware of their surroundings in order to avoid hazards.

4. Noise


During construction, noise is one of the biggest hazards. As a result, repetitive and excessive noise leads to long-term and irreversible hearing loss. Additionally, it is a distraction that can be dangerous. An employer must have a comprehensive risk assessment documented and issue the appropriate personal protective equipment.


Risk factors include:

  • Power tools

  • Groundwork equipment

  • Heavy-duty vehicles

Prevention:


To reduce the intensity of sound waves, employers must conduct a thorough assessment of noise risks and provide their workers with soundproof headphones. When working in an environment with a high noise level, workers should wear PPE.

5. Manual Handling


There are many trades involving various degrees of manual handling, all of which are likely to carry some form of risk. All those who must perform manual handling on a daily basis must receive appropriate and relevant training. We provide tailored manual handling for your specific needs. Click here to learn more.


Risk factors include:

  • The repetitive heavy lifting of equipment or loads

  • Poor lifting posture

Prevention:


To reduce the risk associated with manual handling, employees must be trained in safe work practices. To avoid hazardous manual handling, use machines or equipment to move or lift loads. In cases where machines cannot handle a task, employers should assess the size, weight, nature, and posture required, as well as the health of workers and the working environment. By using a safe procedure, construction workers and their employers will be protected.

6. Vibrations


Hand-arm vibration syndrome, also called white finger, develops from repetitive vibrations from power tools and ground-working equipment. A risk assessment and the correct personal protective equipment can help prevent this.


Risk factors include:

  • Handheld power tools

  • Ground working equipment

  • Vibrating power tools

Prevention:


When handheld tools are not suitable, automated or mechanical equipment should be considered as alternatives. Power tools must be well maintained and used for short periods only if they are needed. Employees should be trained on how to use the equipment and must wear the appropriate PPE; in this case, gloves.

7. Collapses


Workers can suffer serious injuries from trench collapses, so precautions need to be taken before this type of work takes place. In addition to ensuring worker safety, risk assessments should be conducted effectively. It is also imperative to have trained first aiders on-site in case of an accident.


Risk factors include:

  • Trench collapses

  • Falling into the excavation

  • Working area becoming unstable after adding loads

  • Weakened structure due to excavation

  • Falling material and equipment when trenches collapse

Prevention:


It is important to inspect excavation sites before and during shifts to ensure they are fully secured. To ensure workers are aware of safety procedures, managers should hold frequent safety meetings. Maintenance of equipment and the provision of proper PPE to crews are essential. On-site first aid also speeds up response time if a medical emergency arises.

8. Asbestos


Since Asbestos has been banned in the UK since 1999, many people believe that it is a thing of the past. Yet over 500,000 UK buildings contain hidden asbestos, undisturbed and forgotten. Correct and legal disposal of these materials is essential. Besides lung cancer, asbestos can also lead to mesothelioma and asbestosis. Asbestos awareness courses are offered by Base Solutions through our online training portal. Click here to learn more


Risk factors include:

  • Ceiling tiles, thermal paper, wall plaster in older buildings

  • Certain types of insulation

  • Old switch gears and circuit boards

Prevention:


Asbestos should be assessed and dealt with by professionals in any building or area suspected of containing asbestos. In the event of asbestos exposure or find materials that may contain asbestos, workers should wear appropriate protective equipment and follow procedures. It is important to dispose of asbestos material safely. Most employers should ensure that workers wash before they leave for breaks and return home.


9. Electricity


Construction workers electrocute themselves on average three times per year in the UK. These are increasing, and they usually involve workers who aren't qualified electricians but who perform electrical work. Click here to learn more


Risk factors include:

  • Overhead powerlines

  • Damaged tools or equipment

  • Inadequate wiring or overloaded power boards

  • Improper or damaged insulation

Prevention:


Managers of construction sites should conduct site surveys to ensure that nothing is stored under overhead power lines and to ensure that restrictions and barriers are in place. Ensure that cables and wires are regularly checked for wear and tear. All personnel should wear proper PPE and turn off power sources before repairing any equipment.


10. Respiratory diseases


Asbestos isn't the only cause of respiratory diseases. Construction sites kick up dust from hazardous materials that can be inhaled by unsuspecting workers. Asthma, silicosis, and pulmonary issues are long-term illnesses. It is mandatory to use all issued personal protective equipment and to do so correctly. If you do not use your equipment correctly, this could potentially result in HSE investigation, let alone long-term health problems.


Risk factors include:

  • Cutting concrete and aggregates

  • Laying ballasts

  • Brushing floor

  • Woodworks

Prevention:


To identify tasks requiring more control, review the materials and processes used. Exhaust systems should be used to control dust exposure. Before removing PPE, taking a break, or going home, workers should clean down properly. When dust levels are high enough to pose a threat to the health of staff, dedusting equipment should be considered.


Despite being a dangerous industry, the construction industry is one of the most improved, with reductions in fatal injuries every year. This is due to better safety training, equipment, and awareness.


To learn more about what we can do to help you keep safe, contact us by email or at +44 (0)20 3976 9478.

Sources :

www.hse.gov.uk

www.britsafe.org