Although there’s been a dramatic reduction in fatal injuries in construction accidents in the UK over the last 40 years, it remains a high risk industry nonetheless. According to HSE, between 2010 and 2014 an estimated 71 000 people in the UK suffered from an illness caused or made worse by working in construction, and 1.7 million working days were lost due to ill health.
It’s not all bad news though. Improved processes and stringently-tested, modern Personal Protective Equipment significantly improves the comfort and safety of anyone working on a construction site today. Here’s a few precautions you can take to avoid having a really, really bad day at work.
Top 4 Reasons for Injury in Construction
Main 4 causes of construction injuries in Great Britain in 2014 include:
- Falling from heights
- Slipping and tripping
- Being struck by an object
- Injuries caused through handling
With that in mind we’re looking at ways to avoid becoming a statistic in one of the above categories.
One of the highest risk jobs in construction is working up high, and falling from step ladders, scaffoldings, platforms and roof ledges accounts for a large amount of injuries each year. Employers and self-employed contractors are required to perform risk assessments and implement control measures so that work can be carried out safely.
What you can do:
- Avoid working up high unless absolutely necessary. Assemble items at ground level where possible.
- Use practical fall protection when working up high. This includes anything from guardrails and safety nets to full body harnesses.
- Build a scaffold platform with a guardrail and toe boards.
- Keep surfaces free from clutter on your scaffolding and below it – if you do fall your injury could be made far worse by landing on tools or machinery.
- Use a mobile lift instead of a ladder where possible.
3 ladder safety rules to remember
- Always try to maintain 3 points of contact when ascending or descending a ladder – two feet and one hand or one foot and two hands.
- Make sure to wear a tool belt instead of carrying tools in your hands when on a stepladder.
- Never try to make a ladder taller by placing it on scaffolding, and don’t ever stand higher than the second step from the top.
Several thousand construction workers are injured every year from slipping or falling. Most slips and trips can be reduced by maintaining an organised and clean working area free of excess clutter, and by effectively communicating with the people around you.
What you can do:
- Avoid walking on uneven surfaces as much as possible. Find the most suitable path to and from your destination and clearly define it with signposts and lighting.
- Use trolleys or lifts to move around heavy machinery or tools instead of carrying them.
- Choose a good quality work safety boot that has a great outsole grip designed to give you the best traction for the terrain you’re working on.
3 tips for the perfect safety boots
- Ensure the safety boots you choose meet your comfort, safety, durability and weatherproofing needs perfectly.
- Check the safety guidelines of your specific industry or terrain before buying boots. Do they need to be waterproof, or have extra notches on the heel for extra grip when climbing stepladders?
- If electrical hazards are common in your line of work avoid buying steel toe boots and look for footwear that can discharge static electricity.
Being Struck by an Object
Being struck by an object on a construction site is a huge risk and includes everything from flying pieces of concrete, to falling bricks and tools, to being hit by a vehicle or other machinery on site. Although these hazards exist, the correct control measures can help to drastically reduce the chances of them affecting anyone.
What you can do:
- Ensure you’re clearly visible to those around you by wearing a high-visibility jackets and reflective clothing at night.
- Examine tools regularly to ensure they’re in good working order and heads won’t be flying off hammers.
- Ensure all vehicles on site have adequate visibility markings and working breaks.
- Wear a hardhat. Make sure the correct Personal Protective Clothing (PPE) is worn at all times from head to toe.
3 things to remember when working around a crane or lifting machine
- Avoid working under any machine that has a suspended load, or is lifting or dumping.
- Ensure that areas in which cranes are operating are properly barricaded.
- Don’t assume a crane operator has seen you unless he or she has confirmed that they have.
Handling refers to the regular manual lifting and carrying of materials and tools on a construction site. This kind of work can cause an injury or worsen an existing one by placing unnecessary strain on the body by impacting posture and comfort.
What you can do:
- Limit the amount of manual lifting and carrying of tools and materials on a construction site and use mechanical lifting aids instead like conveyors, hoists and cranes.
- Set up an efficient workspace that minimises the amount of bending, stretching and twisting that needs to be done.
- Take special note of the weight of any products that you carry and ensure that you aren’t overdoing it. Wear protective clothing to ease the pressure on your body and skin, like a back support belt or safety gloves.
3 facts about manual handling at work
- Construction workers are often required to carry and lift objects – this can put excessive strain on the body and lead to short or long term musculoskeletal problems.
- According to HSE, handling injuries are the most commonly reported cause of over seven day injuries in the industry.
- Manual handling tasks should only be resorted to when all other options have been exhausted.
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