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Is it Time for a Health & Safety Update in Construction?

Is it Time for a Health & Safety Update in Construction?

Is it Time for a Health & Safety Update in Construction?

Figures from the Health and Safety Executive show that the construction industry continues to be one of the country’s most dangerous for workers, with 43 people suffering fatal injuries 2018/2019. In addition to this, more than 65,000 workers also sustained non-fatal injuries. So a question we must be asking is this: are construction managers doing enough to ensure the safety of their employees?

Perhaps not.

A Failing Industry

While construction sites naturally carry more risk than offices, for example, due to the presence of heavy materials, machinery, and a frequent need to work from height, it is believed that the rate of both fatal and non-fatal injuries is well beyond what would reasonably be expected within the sector, and the reason is poor management of on-site health and safety. In a recent study of 2000 UK-based building companies, only one third of respondents believed that they are implementing the necessary health and safety processes to thoroughly clear an on-the-spot HSE check. The remaining two thirds believe they would only narrowly pass the check, or fail completely. But would a health and safety update really help?

Safety Updates: Yes or No?

Knowing what we know about the construction industry, it seems clear that a health and safety update is needed to help minimise risk and improve processes. However, it was only last year that an update was provided, and yet we still have 43 individuals who have been fatally injured during a day ‘at the office’.

In March 2018, the BSI ISO 45001 standard was introduced, aiming to help organisations across practically every industry generate an effective health and safety management system. At the time of publication, Project Committee Chair David Smith said that “it is hoped that ISO 45001 will lead to a major transformation in workplace practices and reduce the tragic toll of work-related accidents and illnesses across the globe”. Clearly, the standard has failed to make a mark in the construction sector, so just what IS needed in order to reduce risk and make construction a safer industry to work in?

Responsibility

Quite simply, health and safety updates such as the ISO 45001 will fail to achieve their goals if managers are refusing to take responsibility for their own processes and refusing to acknowledge risk. As the results of the building company survey show, managers are aware that their processes are not up to scratch, and yet are not taking appropriate action. Excellent health and safety standards are already in place… what’s needed now is for managers to prioritise the wellbeing of their workforce, implementing best practices, undertaking risk assessments, and ensuring provision of suitable and effective PPE.

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