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Safety And The Construction Industry

Nov 16, 2007
The Union of Construction, Allied Trades and Technicians (UCATT) has recently accused the industry of costing workers their lives with this criticism coming on the back of the launch of an investigation into an accident which occurred at Heathrows Terminal Five in which a building worker was fatally injured.

The UCATT, which represents 125,000 workers in the construction industry, suggests that companies who appoint a dedicated director to be in charge of health and safety can see a 25 percent on average reduction in accidents. In some cases a proactive approach has seen up to an 80 percent fall in accidents.

So if appointing a dedicated person to be in charge of health and safety can make such massive differences what else can companies do?

As with most things careful planning is often the key to a job being done well. And when it comes to working in the construction industry this is even more important if the figures shown above are anything to go by. Someone once said if you fail to plan, you plan to fail. Unfortunately for people working in the construction industry not taking the time to plan your work could result in not just failure but injury and death.

Using the right equipment is also particularly important when it comes to working in the construction industry. With builders, roofers, scaffolders and many other types of worker often working high up a slip, trip or accident due to the wrong equipment being used can be fatal. For example, workers might be tempted to save time by just using a ladder when for example scaffolding should be used. Ladders and stepladders are likely to be the most misused pieces of equipment for people working at height and as with any equipment you need to make sure that anyone using them has been trained and are competent using them.

And remember if the use of a ladder is appropriate then you should ensure it is in good condition, it placed on level and firm ground, it is secure and it is of the correct type (the HSE recommend class 1 industrial or EN131).

The UK Insurance Broker and experts in risk management have produced these Top Tips on how construction workers can reduce their exposure to risk and with it their construction insurance premiums.

Planning. By having an effective management system in place the key areas of risk can be identified and goals can be set to make improvements. This should include selecting equipment and work practices that contain slip and trip hazards and if possible prevent them occurring.

Organisation. Get workers involved in and committed to reducing risks. This should involve giving people responsibilities to ensure that areas of the workplace are kept safe and then making sure everyone is aware who is responsible for each area.

Control. Keep a record of cleaning and maintenance work and encourage good health and safety.

Monitoring and Review. Keep an accident log and re examine it on a regular basis to learn from incidents that have occurred.

The Health and Safety Executive also recommend a 5 step approach to risk management when dealing with slip and trip risks and these are:

Step 1. Look for slip and trip hazards around the workplace (uneven floors, trailing cables, areas that are sometimes slippery due to spillages)

Step 2. Decide who might be harmed and how. Are the people who come into your workplace at risk?

Step 3. Consider the risks. Do you already have precautions to deal with the risks?

Step 4. Record your findings if you have 5 or more employees

Step 5. Regularly review the assessment. If any changes take place make sure that precautions are in place to deal with the risks

The safety of workers in the construction industry and indeed all industries should be paramount so hopefully the UCATTs observations wont fall on the deaf ears and construction companies will ensure their workers follow good health and safety practice and remain safe at work.
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