The construction industry is a high-risk industry, accounting for a high percentage of major and fatal injuries in the workplace across the UK.
Although effective measures have been put in place to make the industry safer, the nature of the industry still leaves a high level of risk.
But what are the main health and safety risks in construction? Read on to find out more information from slips, trips and falls to exhaustion.
1. Slips, Trips, and Falls
Slips, trips, and falls are some of the most common workplace injuries - accounting for around 40% of all reported industries. However, the risk factor appears to increase in the construction industry.
The HSE (Health and Safety Executive) reports that a couple of thousand workers are injured on construction sites per year, with an estimated 1,000 resulting in a fractured bone or dislocated joint.
Slips, trips and falls are some of the most common injuries but can be avoided with the correct area management.
2. Working at Height
Working at height is one of the main causes of workplace fatalities in the construction industries. In fact, almost half of construction accidents back in 2020 were falls from height.
Some hazards that you might find while working from a height may include loose tools and equipment on roofs and high walkways, lack of railings at height and poor edge protection, and unsecured scaffolding and ladders.
The nature of construction work requires workers to work at a height - training is essential to reduce the risk of falls.
We offer a Working at Height online course for you to complete in your own time - please get in touch here.
3. Manual Handling
Construction work requires workers to lift, hold, carry, push, pull, and lower heavy objects and materials - this is called manual handling.
This might not seem like much of a risk, but it can cause tissue damage, bruises, and even broken bones. This can cause anything from mild discomfort to severe pain, and can even cause a permanent disability.
It is imperative that the correct training is completed before an employee lifts heavy objects, and records should be kept to verify this.
We offer a Manual Handling online training course for you to complete in your own time - please get in touch here.
Construction sites can produce hazardous noise levels, which is why ear protection should be worn at all times.
Repetitive and excessively loud noises can cause long term ear damage and hearing problems, which can cause further risk in the workplace. For example, construction workers need to be able to hear warning calls.
With over 500,000 public buildings in the UK containing asbestos, it always poses a risk in the construction industry.
Workers need to know when they’re up against asbestos, and how to deal with it effectively. It can be found in insulation, circuit breakers, tiles, thermal paper, wall plaster, and even switch gears in older buildings, so all contractors should tread carefully.
If you would like to enhance your knowledge and training, please complete our Asbestos Awareness online course by getting in touch here.
Electrocution is a risk factor in the construction industry, and all contractors should be trained and aware of the risk.
Although there are only three construction-relation electrocutions per year, the risk is still there - and can easily be fatal.
7. Airborne Fibres and Materials
There is often lots of dust on construction sites - but it can be invisible and include hazardous materials.
Inhaling this dust can not only damage your lungs, but lead to asthma, silicosis, and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease. This is why protective equipment should always be used.
8. Hand Arm Vibration Syndrome
Hand-arm vibration syndrome (aka HAVS or blue finger), is a disease of the nerves, joints, and blood vessels that can occur after prolonged usage of vibratory tools.
To prevent this from occurring, equipment should be effectively maintained and the correct PPE should be worn.
Unfortunately, once somebody has developed hand-arm vibration syndrome, the damage is there for good - so the key is prevention.
In construction, there’s always a risk of collapse. The correct measures should be taken and risk assessments conducted to identify such risks, as this risk could result in severe injuries and fatalities.
Some risks associated with collapse could include falling into an excavation, the ground around an excavation becoming unstable, structures collapsing, and falling objects causing injuries after a collapse.
Exhaustion can be hazardous to health, but can also cause further injuries and incidents in the workplace.
Construction workers often work long hours and the work itself is usually very intense, which can lead to exhaustion.
Exhaustion can lower the level of awareness and attentiveness of employees, causing them to make mistakes - some of which can be fatal.