The construction industry is one of the most exciting work environments in the UK but also one of the most dangerous. From a health and safety perspective it has a potentially lethal combination of heavy machinery, powerful tools, dangerous chemicals, temporary structures, deep excavations, and work at height, all in a fast moving environment where momentary loss of concentration can cost life or limb.
Although the construction industry in the UK has one of the best health and safety records in Europe, there were still 75 fatalities in 2007-08. The industry is unanimous that this is simply not acceptable. Construction workers also suffer high numbers of serious injuries at work, and a wide range of more subtle, but no less serious, occupational health challenges. As such there is still much work to be done to make the construction industry a safer place to work.
Around 93% of the construction industry’s 186,000 firms employ less than 14 people and one of the biggest challenges that they face is getting to grips with the quantity and complexity of the health and safety legislation which provides the framework for onsite safety. It is the FMB’s view that the single most important thing that can be done to improve health and safety is to assist these small to medium enterprise (SME) firms with understanding the dangers and how to deal with them, so that they can take practical steps to protect everyone on site.
Understanding the Dangers
The latest figures from the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) shown in the graph below, clearly demonstrate the main problem areas in the industry: Falls, being hit by moving/falling objects, or vehicles, and being trapped by something overturning/collapsing.