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Accidents at Work in the Construction Industry

  • 14 Feb 2018

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Construction managers know better than most how much emphasis is placed on health and safety in the modern workplace, and those working in physical trades naturally have to watch out for safety hazards on an almost constant basis. Construction work has been found to be the second most dangerous occupation in Britain – just behind agriculture – with as many as 20% of workplace deaths occurring in the construction sector. With more serious risks to consider in the everyday work environment than the average trade, it is essential that construction managers have thoughtfully-devised health and safety policies in place that are adhered to by everyone. The specialist team at LegalExpert.co.uk offer their advice on maintaining a safe workplace, and what to do in the unfortunate event of an accident.

Your Responsibilities

As a construction manager, you will already be focused on maintaining a safe working environment, but it is your direct legal obligation to take all the appropriate measures to ensure this. You must work with your HR department to put health and safety policies in place, and to make sure they are being adhered to. Legally speaking, you as a manager are responsible for following two regulations:

  • The Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations (MHSWR) 1999 – it is the responsibility of managers and HR departments to have adequate health and safety measures in place
  • The Health and Safety at Work etc. Act 1974 – under the guidance of their managers, HR departments must write, enforce and update health and safety policies and carry out regular risk assessments

Close collaboration with your HR team is essential for achieving a consistent health and safety culture that carries across the company, that lets every team member know exactly what is expected of them in supporting this culture. If managers and HR don’t work together on this matter, a void between the company culture on paper and actual everyday behaviours is likely to emerge, and when this happens, accidents are far more likely to occur – as are the legal consequences that go along with them.

Culture

An integral part of maintaining a safe working environment is making health and wellbeing a focus of company culture, and this requires a lot of leading by example on your part as a manager. You cannot put up the posters and insist on the training, but then show no regard for the wellbeing of your employees. This means emphasis on everyone taking care of themselves both in and out of work.

Research has found that people who don’t achieve a healthy work-life balance, and those who don’t get enough sleep, are statistically far more likely to have an accident at work. So you have to really care about how your employees are, and not just because you will get into trouble if you don’t. Authentic care is important. Encourage enough sleep, decent breakfasts before a shift and proper hydration throughout the day, and if an employee strikes you as not being in the right state to work safely, take action.

What to Do

In your role as manager, policy states that all accidents in the workplace have to be reported directly to you. For this reason, it is essential that you not only know exactly what to do in the event of an accident, but that you are also able to maintain calm at a time that may incite panic. Start by seeking immediate medical attention for the injured employee, and do whatever you can to make them feel calm and supported. If you tend to feel awkward at such times, explore some ways in which you can more comfortably offer support to those in pain. Cooperate fully with medical professionals, and make a note of as many details of the accident as you can, for compiling a report for the accident log.

Depending on the severity of the accident, the injured employee may need to take time off work to recover. This commonly can cause tension and put the employee under pressure to heal quickly and get back to work, so take steps to maintain a feeling of support for them and assure them that their wellbeing is the priority. Make sure that their salary arrangements, in terms of Statutory Sick Pay and, if applicable, Industrial Injuries Disablement Benefit, are made efficiently and that they aren’t kept waiting for their pay at this difficult time. Maintain contact with the employee throughout their absence to keep them feeling supported, and to get an idea of how long you can expect them to be off work.

In some cases, if the employee feels that their accident could have been avoided, they may decide to file a claim for compensation for their injury. If this is the case, don’t feel slighted, and don’t let it affect your relationship with the employee, or anybody else’s. Cooperate with any proceedings that result from a workplace injury, and consider what could be learned from the situation and used to improve the workplace. If a compensation claim is successful, there is probably some element that you should look at rectifying to avoid similar incidents in the future.

To find out more about managing health and safety accident claims in the workplace, visit www.legalexpert.co.uk

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