Health and safety risks in construction:
Every day, workers in the construction industry face serious health and safety risks. By being aware of these risks and taking steps to reduce them, workers can stay safe on the job. In this article, we will explore some of the most common health and safety hazards in construction, and discuss ways to prevent them.
We will be focusing on:
- Working at height
- Handling dangerous equipment
- Exposure to hazardous materials
- Lifting heavy weights
Working at height:
Working at height can be very dangerous when control measures are not implemented and fatalities from falls at height continue to be the highest statistic with fatal injuries published by the HSE year on year.
Working at height can expose employees to a number of potential hazards, including falls from height, suspension trauma, falling objects, environmental hazards which can affect working at height such as wind, rain, ice and snow.
To reduce the risk of these hazards, employers should take steps to improve safety at height, such as providing suitable training, providing the right equipment, and ensuring that workers are competent to work at height and are properly supervised.
Operating and handling dangerous equipment:
Working with dangerous equipment is one of the leading causes of injury in the construction industry. Equipment can include operated plant such as excavators, dumpers, teleporters and cherry pickers/ scissor lifts as well as hand tools such as handsaws, hammers and screwdrivers. Operated plant and hand tools can be very dangerous if not used properly, and can easily cause injuries such as lacerations, fractures and in the worst-case scenario fatalities.
There are a number of ways to reduce the risk of injury from dangerous equipment in construction.
- Always use the equipment properly, following the manufacturer’s instructions.
- Employees must be properly trained and competent in how to operate and use the equipment safely.
- Specific items of personal protective equipment should be worn, depending on the activity, when working with dangerous equipment as this is the last resort of protection in the hierarchy of control.
- Workers should always take care to avoid distractions and stay aware of their surroundings when using plant and handheld equipment.
Exposure to hazardous materials:
When workers are exposed to hazardous materials, it can put them at serious risk of a number of health complications, including respiratory problems, skin irritations, and in some cases diseases such as cancer and silicosis.
Many hazardous materials can also be flammable, which can lead to dangerous workplace accidents if controls are not in place for fire safety.
To reduce the risk of exposure, it is important for employers to ensure that workers are properly trained in handling and using all hazardous materials safely.
Lifting heavy weights:
Lifting heavy weights can be dangerous in construction because it can lead to back injuries. Heavy lifting can also cause muscles and ligaments to stretch beyond their natural range, which can lead to pain and inflammation.
There are a few ways to reduce the risk of injury from heavy lifting on construction sites.
- Workers should try and mechanise the lift to avoid lifting equipment manually.
- If manual handling cannot be avoided employees should always lift with their legs, not just their backs. This will reduce the strain and stress to the lower back lumbar region where most back injuries occur.
- They should also make sure to use proper lifting techniques, and take frequent breaks to give their muscles a chance to rest.
- A team lift can help reduce the load being lifted.
- Additionally, workers should always lift objects in a safe area, away from traffic and other hazards.
Our verdict – construction staff need to be trained:
Arguably the biggest danger in construction is the lack of health and safety training. Workers who are not properly trained in how to safely work with the many hazards present in a construction environment are putting themselves and others at serious risk.
Our team at Optimum Safety are trying to solve this by offering a mixture of face to face and eLearning training to construction businesses. Last year (well, 2020-2021), 39 construction workers tragically lost their lives at work. If we remove just one fatality – or even an injury from these statistics, we’ll know we’re in business for the right reasons.