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Planning for Safety: Health and Safety Requirements for Construction Sites

  • 21 Feb 2018

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When working on a construction site, health and safety are paramount. Recent estimates suggest the number of injuries and, subsequently, fatalities in the construction industry are higher than any other. An average of 64,000 non-fatal injuries occurs each year in the UK, with 49% issues relating to falls. Medtree, a leading distributor of medical supplies and first aid kits worldwide, are sharing the most up-to-date health and safety requirements for construction.

Construction site managers have a duty of care they must follow for:

  • Onsite employees
  • Any visitors
  • External contractors

To ensure you meet the requirements of the Health and Safety at Work Act 1947, you must undertake a risk assessment. The assessment highlights any hazards your employees face, putting into place provisions. For those unsure of what to include, you can find templates online.

Risk Assessments

All construction sites must take risk assessments of the site and equipment as a basic government requirement. The risk assessment should reduce the number of incidents, although accidents may still occur. Your assessment must feature:

  • Action and provisions in place to resolve any accidents
  • Identify first aiders at the construction site
  • Highlight any unsafe equipment or conditions
  • Reassess the unsafe conditions as to whether they have been resolved

Equipment or conditions deemed unsafe onsite must be resolved immediately. Your duty is to provide a safe and free from incident workplace. Should issues be identified, work must stop until those incidents have been resolved.

Construction Site Hazards

There are a number of hazards construction workers face on a daily basis – particularly with the use of highly-dangerous equipment and working conditions. As an employer, you must do all in your power to protect your staff.

Falls

Falls account for the largest number of incidents and fatalities in construction. Unstable surfaces, lack of necessary equipment, protection and human error. Fall protection must be in place for staff working on surfaces with unprotected edges or sides, six feet from the ground. You can ensure protection by:

  • Installing guardrails
  • Safety net systems
  • Aerial lifts
  • Elevated platforms
  • Floor hole covers

All employees should be directed to familiarise themselves with potential hazards around their workstation and alert managers where sufficient protection is not installed.

Scaffolding

Around 2.3 million construction employees work with or on scaffolds. From that, there is an estimated 60 deaths annually due to unsafe scaffolding. Your scaffold should be designed and erected by fully qualified companies and include:

  • Solid footing, planked and at least 10 feet from the nearest power line
  • Include guardrails, midrails and toeboards
  • Staff should ensure head protection is on at all times
  • Employers provide non-skid work boots
  • The max load is never exceeded

Ladders & Stairways

Unsafe ladder equipment is one of the primary reasons for a large number of falls. If you fail to implement secure ladders or stairways, your employees cannot safely carry necessary tools and material – thus affecting their job. However, you should:

  • Mark defective ladders until repaired
  • Train employees on ladder safety
  • Ladders should conform to OSHA standards
  • Tools and materials should be carried using a tool belt or rope

Toxic Substances

Not only can exposure to toxic substances lead to physical injuries, chemical burns and long-term issues, but also lead to fire and explosions. To avoid this, ensure you:

  • Maintain a Material Safety Data Sheet (MSDS) and list all onsite chemicals
  • MSDS sheet is easily accessible and staff have proper training on what it means
  • Follow manufacturer instructions for handling hazardous substances
  • Provision in place for spills, alongside spill clean-up kits
  • Employers are briefed on all risks and the provisions
  • Provide a safe place to store chemicals

Electrics

Overhead lines, cable harnesses and circuit assemblies all contribute to the risk of exposure to electrical shock. You must identify all hazards and resolve them, while providing proper training:

  • Follow government electrical requirements
  • Live, energized circuits must be clearly highlighted
  • Personal protective equipment is essential
  • Area must be kept free of debris at all times
  • Guardrails installed to avoid falls
  • Shield welding areas
  • Correct fire extinguishers in place
  • Do not let temporary electrics overload

Personal Protective Safety Checklists

While you must identify potential hazards within the conditions and equipment your staff are working, it’s essential you provide them with the proper personal protective equipment. Incidents may still occur, even with all preparation in place, but these safety checklists will minimise the risks.

Eye and Face Protection

Eye and face protection is essential to avoid foreign objects getting in eyes, and should be worn at all times for jobs involving welding, cutting, grinding and more.

Head Protection

Hard hats are a crucial component of construction sites. If a hard hat is severely damaged, it must be replaced immediately. It’s worth noting that hard hats should be inspected routinely for any signs of dents, cracks and general deterioration.

Hand and Foot Protection

Employer’s gloves should fit the hands snugly for each job. The gloves should be inspected and provided for the correct projects, such as heavy-duty rubber gloves for jobs involving concrete. For foot protection, staff should receive anti-slip, puncture and steel-capped boots, preventing the likelihood of crushed toes.

First Aid Kits

As a basic requirement for construction sites, you must have a well-stocked first aid kit. All staff must be able to access the first aid kit and should include:

  • Gloves
  • Various types of dressing
  • Eye pads
  • Sharp and blunt scissors
  • Instant ice packs
  • Triangular bandages
  • Sterile gauze swabs
  • Crepe bandages
  • Wound wash solution
  • Deep freeze spray
  • Emergency foil blanket
  • Safety pins
  • Resuscitation face mask

Steps to Implementing an Emergency Plan

Your duty of care must implement steps to an emergency plan. Once you have steps, your emergency plan must be distributed to all staff. These are Medtree’s steps for safety:

  1. Management has a responsibility to plan, implement and review the procedure for an emergency.
  2. Keep health and safety procedures up-to-date with government requirements.
  3. Ensure all first aid trainers have adequate training, with first aid provisions in place. Keep all first aid certificates together and within date.
  4. Work in accordance with the risk assessment.
  5. Provide detailed handouts on equipment, hazards and the provisions in place to all employees
  6. Ensure all staff understand the importance of accident reporting and what to do in an emergency.
  7. Check on the stock for first aid kits regularly.
  8. Put in place a fall protection system.
  9. Create accountability at all levels.
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