Staying safe around building sites

In 2010–2011, fifty people were killed and 2,298 were seriously injured on building sites, in a reverse of the trend of the previous four years, when the number of fatalities had fallen.

Chief executive of the National Federation of Builders, Julia Evans, said in a statement: “Construction is seen as a high-risk industry and within construction, refurbishment sites are shown to have a higher rate of accidents.

“The National Federation of Builders works hard to promote the importance of safety by communicating those messages to small businesses and through our Stay Safe, Stay Away campaign that warns children of the dangers of building sites.”

Obviously there is still some way to go, and Health and Safety Executive (HSE) bosses say they are concerned about smaller refurbishment projects where more than half of all deaths take place.

So, if you work in construction, have recently purchased a new-build property, or regularly walk through or near a construction site, it’s essential that you are very aware of the hazards involved by exposing yourself to an area of high risk.

The most important thing is to be aware of your surroundings and the potential threats and hazards while remaining alert to what is going on around you, with more accidents happening when people have dropped their guard than at any other time.

It’s worth checking on the site to see if there’s any protective clothing available that you can wear, such as the correct footwear, gloves, and a sturdy helmet, so that if anything falls on you, you are protected. Protective eyewear, ear protectors and reflective clothing are also considered construction site essentials.

Sometimes it’s the hidden surprises that make refurbishments more dangerous. Minor defects are harder to spot but can have unfortunate consequences. Sometimes even fatal ones.

Brian Berry, Chief executive of the Federation of Master Builders says: “If you put somebody that’s used to building new houses, new units, and things like that – if you just put them straight onto a site like this (refurbishments), you’re going to have problems. They’re not experienced enough.

“The construction industry provides one of the most exciting working environments in the UK but also one of the most dangerous. More than 93% of the construction industry’s 194,000 firms employ fewer than 14 people and one of the biggest challenges that they face is getting to grips with the quantity and complexity of the health and safety legislation which provides the framework for onsite safety.”

UK building developers have a detailed legal responsibility to protect their employees and others on site from accident and injury. When this protection is missing or flawed, serious injury or even death can result so it is important that steps are taken to minimise the risk of accidents on building sites.

As an employer, it’s mandatory that you are insured for any possible head injury claim as well as offering your employees full protection in light of any possible unforeseen accidents.