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Construction Site Safety to Avoid Risks

 

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Safety measures for construction sites

The law states that every employer must provide suitable personal protective equipment for workers who might be exposed to anything that could risk their health and safety on site. This includes head protection, to protect against a potentially fatal head injury, hi vis clothing and suitable footwear, with additional PPE required for specific tasks. All PPE must be properly fitting and appropriate for your job and the risks on the site. It could help prevent concussions, severe lacerations, burns, eye injuries, hearing loss and other injuries, and forms a vital part of the required health and safety regulations at work.

 

Regular safety checks are essential, to monitor risk management on site, as well as regular checking of equipment and tools by a competent person, to ensure they are in good condition and suitable for use. All staff must be suitably trained when working at height, and for their task in hand, and it’s essential that the site manager or project manager updates and keeps track of each contractor or employee’s health and safety training. Hazard identification is vital on every site, and all workers must be trained to safely carry out their role, with supervision by a competent person, as well as receive training for what to do in case of emergency. Safety signage is also an essential tool to help workers, as well as members of the public, to avoid construction site risks.

 

Of course, different construction site safety rules apply at different stages of construction. There are in-depth safety requirements to follow when using ladders, scaffolding, forklift use, vehicle loading and during excavations. As well as following the latest health and safety rules, the latest building regulations must also be followed, for safe materials and workmanship. 
 

Who is responsible for site rules and procedures?

The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) states that ‘all construction workers have a right to work on sites where they do not get hurt or ill through work’. The site manager’s role is to make sure that that work is carried out safely, following all relevant health and safety regulations, and supervisors may oversee their team’s compliance of building site safety requirements. It is ultimately down to the employer and main contractor to have overall responsibility for everyone’s health and safety on site - however, all individuals have a role to play to ensure their own, and others’ safety.

It is vital to have a chain of command on any site, with individual health and safety responsibilities clearly defined, and each person’s role in implementing safety measures made clear. Each person plays a part in ensuring safety rules are followed, and clear communication and collaboration with all contractors is essential to reduce construction site risks and hazards.

 

Top 5 risks on construction sites

The top 5 risks to health on construction sites include:

 

1. Slips, trips and falls - this includes falls from working at height, excavations and trips from improper storage of equipment and building materials

2. Moving objects - including machinery-related injuries and plant injuries

3. Noise - loud noises from tools and machinery can damage hearing, so appropriate ear protection must be used

4. Vibration and electrocution - vibrating tools can lead to Hand-Arm Vibration Syndrome (HAVS), and other electrical tools, or overhead or underground cables, carry an electrocution risk

5. Manual handling - the risk of injury from moving or lifting heavy loads

 

With staff training, safety checks and supervision, many of these risks can be reduced. Supervisors must also follow working hours regulations, provide regular breaks, do regular safety checks, and ensure the correct PPE is worn at all times. 

 

As well as health and safety risks, there are other risks which include financial problems through delays or thefts, legal risks, project risks - such as labour shortages - and environmental risks, such as extreme weather.  

 

Construction site safety tips

Every person on site has a responsibility to help ensure the safety of themselves and others. Here are some simple ways to stay safe on site:

 

  • Wear PPE - certain PPE is required by law, as well as additional PPE for your job

  • Have an induction - all workers must receive site-specific safety training

  • Follow signage and instructions - know your line manager and be aware of hazards around you

  • Use common sense - always work within your capability and don’t take risks

  • Frequent checks - although supervisors must inspect equipment and structures regularly, it’s everyone’s responsibility to stop and report issues as soon as they arise

  • Keep the site tidy - trips and falls are a major cause of injuries on site

  • Store tools and materials correctly - unplug power tools when not in use, and store items in the appropriate way to ensure security and usability

  • Use the right equipment for the right task - unnecessary accidents can happen when the wrong tool is used

  • Know the emergency plan - have a dedicated person or team for dealing with emergencies and know how to contact them or what to do in case of problems

  • Set safeguards and security measures - including barriers, signage, fencing and other warnings in place

  • Pre-check your tools and environment - if you spot anything incorrect, report it immediately

  • Never tamper with equipment - act safe and never move rails or equipment without authorisation

  • If in doubt, ask - know who to go to for advice, for additional training or to report any concerns

 

Construction site induction

A site induction is vitally important, not only for all workers and contractors, but for visitors to the site too. The induction sets out the specific hazards and construction site risks for each individual site at each given time, and raises health and safety awareness as well as what to do in case of an emergency. An induction should include covering the chain of command, the site layout, emergency procedures, fire safety, electrical safety, required PPE and highlighting no-go areas. 

 

It’s important to remember that health and safety training is an ongoing task on building sites, as contractors may change along the way and hazards change as the project progresses.
 

Construction site safety checklist

Site or project managers are required to have an in-depth safety checklist, to be undertaken before the start of every shift as well as after changes to the project situation - such as after extreme weather, if scaffolding is moved or if a new phase of construction begins.

 

Construction site safety checklists must be carried out by a competent person, and it’s the site manager’s responsibility to make sure these are completed and collated. There may be multiple safety checklists for each area, including:

 

  • Scaffolding safety

  • Environmental checks

  • Ladder regulations

  • Access points

  • Excavation safety

  • Public access safety

  • Signage

  • Electrical safety

  • Vibration risk

  • Gas safety

  • Equipment and materials storage

  • Machinery

  • PPE

  • Emergency plans

  • First aid kits

 

Each aspect is essential to help maintain a safe construction site, and by following the latest construction site safety regulations each person can help to protect workers’ safety at all times.

 

You can download a sample construction site safety checklist here.

 

For more advice on all aspects of construction, as well as tips, inspiration and the latest building regulations, visit the Travis Perkins Trade News and Advice hub

 

Construction Site Safety: FAQs

What are the safety measures in construction site?

Building site safety measures include the use of PPE, radios and communication equipment, restrictions on smoking, cordoning off restricted areas, staff training, signage, traffic management systems, safety checklists, tidiness, pedestrian routes, fire prevention, permits and emergency plans.

 

What are the risks on a construction site?

The top 5 risks to health on construction sites include:

 

  • Slips, trips and falls from heights

  • Moving objects - machinery-related or plant injuries

  • Noise - from tools and machinery damaging hearing

  • Vibration and electrocution - vibrating tools can lead to injury, and other electrical tools, or overhead or underground cables, carry an electrocution risk

  • Manual handling - the risk of injury from moving or lifting heavy loads

 

What not to do on a construction site?

Never tamper with or move equipment - act safe and never move rails, structures, signs or equipment without authorisation. Never take risks, work beyond your means or use the incorrect tools for the job. Always wear PPE, follow the safety regulations and know what to do in an emergency. Always store tools and materials safely and report any concerns immediately.
 

Who is responsible for site rules and procedures?

The site manager’s role is to make sure that that work is carried out safely, following all relevant health and safety regulations, and supervisors may oversee their team’s compliance of building site safety requirements. It is ultimately down to the employer and main contractor to have overall responsibility for everyone’s health and safety on site - however, all individuals have a role to play to ensure their own, and others’ safety.

 

Disclaimer: The information contained on this page is intended as an overall introduction and is not intended as project-specific advice from a qualified professional.