The construction industry is one of the most dangerous industries for people to work in due to the nature of the work, which can involve working from heights, using heavy machinery and lifting heavy loads.
Most of the danger’s workers will face can be dramatically reduced by setting up the right health and safety measures and putting procedures in place to keep workers safe. Below is a seven-step guide you can use to help you spot, reduce and even eliminate some of the risks.
The first step for any site should be to identify the applicable hazards and reduce the risks as far as is reasonably practicable. For instance, is there a way you can complete the task with a different method, or use different materials and/or chemicals to reduce or eliminate the risks?
A few ways you might reduce risk would be:
- Using extendable tools rather than working at height.
- Having materials delivered cut to size to remove any risks associated with cutting.
- Using battery-operated equipment to eliminate trip hazards.
If the risks can’t be removed entirely which is very often the case in construction, the next best option is to try and make a substitution to reduce the risks to anyone involved.
These could be:
- Replacing ladders with scaffolds.
- Wearing high visibility jackets to enhance visibility.
- Substituting hazardous chemicals with non-hazardous.
- Having access to the latest equipment.
Another method you should look to use is using engineering to control the environment that you’re working in. These controls could be fixed for everyday tasks or temporary measures for less commonly executed tasks. The measures should generally look to protect the collective workforce rather than individuals.
These could be:
- Adding edge protection whilst working at height.
- Enclosing any equipment or sharp edges.
- Having extractors, such as LEV’s to remove dust or chemical fumes.
Procedures are incredibly important to not just have in place but also make sure that all your staff are aware and know how to follow them to reduce the risks of an incident.
They should also be updated if any of the procedures change, for example, if you have a new piece of equipment that requires different use than the previous.
You may also put in permanent procedures to reduce risks such as enforcing a one-way system around your sites to minimise risks or to restrict working at height during windy conditions.
Another way to reduce risks to workers is to make sure that anyone who is carrying out hazardous work has supervision. The supervisor should have experience and training in the area they are supervising. This will allow them to spot and identify if anything is not being done correctly but also, if the worst is to happen and someone has an accident, someone is on hand to help them.
It might seem obvious but making sure that all individuals are trained for completing a relevant task is imperative. No one should be asked to complete a task they are not well versed or trained in and making sure that your staff have the most up to date training is extremely important.
Another one that might seem obvious but making sure that your workers have access to the right PPE for all the tasks they need to complete and new equipment should be made available if there are changes to regulations or better technologies are available. Individual measures such as PPE should always be explored once all other options are exhausted as they give the least prevention. We all have a responsibility to give our workforce the best protection possible, so implementing collective measures is always better than individual measures.