A construction site, historically, is one of the most dangerous places of work, with a high risk of a workplace accident or incident. Even with stringent health and safety measures in place, a construction site is still a high-risk workplace; in 2020 for example, construction was the industry that saw the most deaths in the United Kingdom. Andrew Powles, Managing Director, FPE Seals, looks at basic steps that can be taken to improve on-site safety.
A commitment to safety really must be at the forefront of a business’s planning – it cannot just be steps that are there to tick boxes, it should be a priority for management. if a site is to maximise safety and reduce risk as much as possible, then its operators must commit to following procedures thoroughly. All members of staff working on the site must be aware, and importantly must see the purpose, of the steps and measures that have been implemented to keep people safe.
A team directly responsible for the safety measures on site could be assembled and should contain representatives from all areas of the business. By doing so it becomes clear that site safety is the responsibility of all employees, and the rules and regulations are implemented for everyone to follow and keep all staff safe.
Looking after machinery, and the site in general, will go a long way to making a construction site a safer place to work. Regular inspections and checks on parts including seals, cylinders, belts, and drives, will ensure that everything used is in good working order. Doing this helps with the reduction of costs for any machinery failure, but also keeps on top of health and safety, as a fault in machinery or tools can cause accidents in the workplace. Preventative maintenance is a good practice for a construction site to hold. By keeping on top of tools and machinery you can rapidly reduce the risk of a whole host of costly incidents that will not only affect you financially, but also potentially with a human impact too.
Of course, training is essential to ensure all workers are capable of being on site, as well as working to all guidelines and practices. Training however must not be just a “one size fits all” thing at the beginning of employment or a job. Regular training courses are vital, and training keeps all employees of many different roles and levels of experience aware of what is expected of them and as safe as possible and there can be no such thing as too much training! It prevents workers becoming complacent and lax, no matter how many years of accident free working they have had.
While training, it’s imperative that workers know not only how to perform the job to the best of their ability, but also how to conduct themselves as safely as possible while doing so. Education is a key factor in making construction sites a safer place for all, and Richard Evens from the British Safety Council explains: “The way to mitigate risk and make construction safer is to raise the level of awareness and understanding of the prevailing risks. It’s then essential to put in place the appropriate measures to reduce or, if possible, eliminate them.”
As part of the continual training and implementation of safety procedures, regular staff meetings are a good idea to ensure all protocols are being follow. Should there be any incidents, or even any near misses, it is important for the safety of everyone that these are acted upon and not brushed aside.
Any mistakes or breaches of safety regulations must be dealt with, and if more training or awareness courses are required, management should investigate this as an option. What went wrong? How did the incident happen? What simple steps can we take to avoid this happening again? Were the steps in place and simply not followed? All questions such as this can be addressed in regular team meetings and management gatherings.
Construction sites by their very nature are always going to be quite high-risk places to work, and there are going to be some tragic incidents. Of course, not all accidents can be avoided, something that applies to everyday life and not just the construction industry. That said, by looking at the steps in this article and implementing these in and around sites, the potential for devastating incidents to occur can be reduced.