What are the main health and safety risks in the construction industry?

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It’s no secret that working in the construction industry is a riskier occupation that most jobs. The nature of the work means that you are more exposed to more potentially dangerous situations than many other occupations.

There were 30 fatal injuries in the UK within the construction sector in 2016-17 and a further 80,000 workers are suffering from work-related health conditions. There are around 64,000 non-fatal injuries reported on construction sites each year too.

In this weeks’ blog, we want to look at 3 of the main issues for workers and also find out how to manage these risks in a construction setting.

Falls from height

Between 2012 – 2017 there were 196 fatalities on construction sites in the UK and 49% of these were because of a fall from height. This far eclipsed the two nearest risks – 10% of fatalities were due to an object or structure collapsing/overturning and another 10% were because of moving vehicles.

The HSE has a handy guide for managing risks when it comes to working from heights and there is even a full section on the website dedicated to giving advice and managing risks for workers who work above the ground.

Asbestos exposure

We looked at this topic previously on this blog – Is Asbestos Exposure Still a Problem in the UK? – and it is still an issue for construction workers.

Most buildings that were erected prior to the year 2000 have asbestos present – it is estimated that around 500,000 public buildings contain asbestos – and while if it is left undisturbed it shouldn’t pose a health risk, it is still one of the biggest dangers in the construction industry today.

There is also a major risk of inhaling airborne fibres and other materials which can lead to serious respiratory diseases later in life and acknowledging these risks is vitally important.

Excessive noise

Construction sites are noisy, that much is obvious, however prolonged exposures to high levels of noise can lead to hearing issues and it remains a constant problem.

From a health and safety standpoint, this can be mitigated by using proper personal protective equipment (PPE) and limiting the amount of time workers are exposed to high levels of noise. 17,000 people in the UK are estimated to experience hearing loss, ringing in their ears and other hearing ailments associated with noise exposure due to their work.

Managing risks in the construction industry

While these are not all the risks that come with working on a construction site, they are 3 of the main problems that employees, managers and all staff face.

Managing these risks is imperative to not only complying with health and safety regulations but keeping everyone safe at work too.

Keeping up to date on your safety training is vital to ensure that all staff know the risks and know what to do in the event of an incident happening at work. It also raises awareness of carrying out risk assessments in the workplace and safeguards everyone, especially when working on a construction site.

Failing to undertake relevant training can and does lead to both fatal and non-fatal injuries in an industry that is already riskier than many other occupations.

Health and safety risks on construction sites - IOSH and Management courses for health and safety

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