Archive 2016 08

Health & Safety Health and Safety Despite a fall in the number of reported accidents, workplace injury costs the construction industry around £0.9 billion a year and claimed the lives of 43 workers in 2015/16. Jane Gittins, head of legal operations at Spencers Solicitors, gives her advice on keeping workers safe WHETHER you are working alone or as part of a team, there are a number of safety considerations and legal parameters that need to be taken into account when on a construction site. Despite reports that sites are getting safer, with the number of accidents actually falling in recent years, the construction sector still bears the brunt of working injuries. Twenty seven per cent of all fatal injuries to workers occur onsite, even though only five per cent of employees in Britain work within the industry. Not only can the working environment be a danger, with heavy duty machinery or great heights often involved, but other factors such as asbestos exposure can be life-threatening. Ultimately, all sites can contain risks, be it a huge construction compound or an at home renovation. With these disproportionately high figures, the onus falls on employers to ensure they keep both themselves and their staff safe – but how can this be done? Safety in numbers Construction sites are extremely busy places, with different tradesmen, workers and visitors coming and going throughout the day. Each person that steps onsite needs to understand the dangers and safety regulations, in order to keep the whole operation as risk-free as possible. Guidelines introduced last year, the Construction (Design and Management) Regulations 2015, clearly highlighted the duty of those in charge to ensure all hazards and potential dangers are routinely assessed and appreciated to ensure the safety of their staff. Site inductions are an effective way of providing each worker with the knowledge they need to stay safe. There should be a written induction checklist to ensure evidence exists that all workers have been properly briefed, and core details include locating the first aid station, understanding the correct fire procedures and ensuring visitor books are always signed. Every site is different, and so ensuring each major hazard is highlighted will reduce the risk of surprises. Keeping this knowledge fresh is also important, so daily safety www.builderandengineer.26 co.uk meetings help keep potential hazards at the forefront of workers’ minds. Take this opportunity to discuss any changes on site, such as what equipment and machinery is going to be used where. Make sure workers take breaks It is especially important to be fully alert on a construction site – it’s a well-known fact that our reaction time suffers greatly when we’re tired or fatigued. The Working Time Regulations (1998) outline the maximum weekly working hours of 48 hours a week (on average over 17 weeks), except when 24-hour staffing is required. The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) is responsible for enforcing this, alongside night work limits and health assessments. Allowing workers regular rest periods, ideally away from the noise and bustle of the site itself, will greatly reduce the risk of accidents due to exhaustion. Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) It may sound obvious but it’s crucial to ensure that workers are wearing the correct safety clothing at all times. Although they may not be the most fashionable or comfortable, PPE can prevent painful and costly injuries on construction sites. Essential PPE usually includes hard hats and protective boots, but workers may also be required to wear safety glasses or visors. High-visibility jackets or vests also help ensure workers are visible to one another at all times. The full requirements for effective PPE are enshrined within the Personal Protective Equipment Regulations 2002 Act. The Health and Safety Executive also provides easy to digest guidance on what constitutes PPE, and how to assess what PPE is essential on your site. Prepare for the worst No matter how well we follow the safety guidelines, it is a fact that building sites are a dangerous place and unexpected things can happen. You should have clear and communicated procedures in place to prepare for any event. Always immediately contact the designated first-aider and/or the emergency services, depending on the severity of the injury. The person responsible for health and safety on site should also be informed of the accident so that internal safety procedures can be invoked if needed. The injury may require reporting under RIDDOR and the types of reportable injuries can be found at www.hse.gov.uk/riddor/reportableincidents. htm. If the injured person returns to work, an assessment should be undertaken to ensure they are fit to continue and if any day-to-day adaptations are required to aid recovery. If the injured person is unable to return to work for any period of time due to their injury then you should advise that they seek specialist legal assistance. n Jane Gittins “Guidelines introduced last year, the Construction (Design and Management) Regulations 2015, clearly highlighted the duty of those in charge to ensure all hazards and potential dangers are routinely assessed and appreciated to ensure the safety of their staff.”

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