According to the HSE, 4% of construction workers suffer from an illness they believe to be work-related, ranging from musculo-skeletal disorders to stress, anxiety, and depression. In addition, 3% of workers have sustained a work-related injury. In 2016, the result of these injuries and accidents led to 2.2 million lost working days in the UK. The main culprits for non-fatal accidents on construction sites are:
· Slips, Trips and Falls (23%)
· Lifting and Handling (22%)
· Falls from Height (20%)
· Struck by Object (11%)
The good news is, all of these accidental injuries can be prevented by proper workplace precautions. UTS, specialists in BSI Kitemarked access equipment manufacture, share 5 steps to dramatically reduce the risk of on-site injury, creating a safer workplace for employees and ensuring productivity on site.
1. Mandatory Safety Meetings
The first step in reducing the risk of injury on site is to introduce proper safety precautions, including risk assessment, safety signage, and workplace processes. You can then revisit these issues in regular safety meetings, giving employees an opportunity to voice any concerns about potential risks they’ve encountered and to ask for clarification regarding protocol. This facilitates a collaborative effort to ensure that safety precautions are considered across the site, which ultimately proves beneficial to all involved.
It goes without saying that workers need adequate training when operating heavy or dangerous machinery as part of their role; this goes a long way to preventing accidents and injuries. However, it’s also important to ensure that all new employees are given a site induction. This will allow them to familiarise themselves with safety processes and to ask any questions they may have about the site and the task at hand; while this may seem time-consuming, it goes a long way to minimising injuries and maintaining safety standards. In addition, considering that 20% of accidents on construction sites are a result of falls from height, it is imperative that all employees are trained and briefed on the specific safety measures that must be taken when working at height.
3. Safety Gear
The right safety equipment is a key factor in preventing injuries on site – not only to the individual, but also to the people around them. As well as the standard Hi-Vis equipment, helmets, and goggles, you should also consider utilising safety gear that targets specific risks.
For example, 11% of injuries are caused by workers being struck by an object. Adding tool tethers and lanyards to the workplace uniform will prevent objects from falling from a height, and thus eliminate the risk of injury to other workers and passers-by.
4. Maintain Site Standards
Maintaining site standards is a simple yet effective way to prevent injuries on site, ranging from cracking down on litter to making sure toilet facilities are clean. Potential safety risks are much easier to spot when the site is clear, as opposed to cluttered with tools; to encourage a clear site, make sure to provide appropriate cleaning equipment, such as bin bags, brooms and cleaning cloths. Not only will a well-maintained site make a positive impact on overall employee wellbeing, it will also result in a more engaged and careful workforce, thus leading to less accidents.
5. Employee Welfare
In addition to maintaining site standards, employee welfare is also dependant on a number of other factors, such as regular breaks with adequate facilities to make tea and coffee. Not only do breaks improve workplace culture, but they’re also essential in ensuring that workers stay well hydrated; since exhaustion is the 5th most common cause for onsite injuries, implementing regular work-day breaks is a worthy step in preventing injuries and accidents.