Why do accidents happen on construction sites?

by Alex on September 7, 2017

Construction Accidents

The rate of fatalities at work has remained broadly level for a number of years, with the average number of annual deaths currently sitting at 142.

Whichever way you swing it, that’s a high number, and a stark reminder that businesses must do all they can to prevent accidents and mitigate risk.

The construction industry features the highest number of annual fatalities in the UK, with thirty incidents recorded during 2016/17 and an average of 39 over five years.

To prevent risk, it’s vital you understand where it resides, and in this blog, we’ve picked out the main reasons accidents happen on construction sites.

Poor working culture

Employees are often their own worst enemies. Cutting corners to save time, ignoring risk assessments and overlooking crucial project details are consequences of disengagement that can have disastrous results.

A safety-first culture and one that respects the guidelines at all times is vital if employees are to do all they can – intrinsically – to protect themselves and their colleagues.

Poor (or non-existent) training

Employee training should be something in which construction businesses continually invest.

Without proper training, employees are more likely to come to significant harm when using construction equipment. Equally, when working at height or lifting heavy materials, workers need to possess a high level of knowledge about the job in hand.

Without consistent training and opportunity to learn, accidents are almost inevitable.

Risk assessments lacking detail and not completed or updated

Accidents often happen on constructions sites simply because the inherent risks haven’t been identified.

A quick risk assessment without detail isn’t enough; more attention needs to be paid to each constituent task to ensure no important details are missed.

Risk assessments should be respected, too, because even the best assessments will be ineffective if they’re not taken seriously.

Lack of machinery protection

Most heavy machinery comes complete with guards for exposed elements that might cause injury.

If those guards are either not used correctly or haven’t been assembled at all, the risk of crushing and trapping rises considerably, with potentially fatal consequences.

Insufficient protection for machinery is just asking for trouble, which is why it should always be checked before use to ensure that all safety measures are fully deployed.

Insufficient PPE

Personal protective equipment (PPE) is essential to ensuring on-site employees (and anyone visiting – including members of the public) are kept safe.

That means steel toe cap boots, hi-vis vests and hard hats should be worn at all times – even when the risk seems minimal.

In certain industries, PPE will extend beyond the obvious, too. For instance, when dealing with hot surfaces or dusty environments, gloves and other protective clothing will be a prerequisite in order to avoid burns or coming into harm from chemicals.

A key component of every risk assessment should be the PPE required for each task, because just one missing piece of protective equipment or clothing could result in serious injury – or worse.

Not surprised?

The above might sound obvious, but that’s no bad thing. If risk factors are obvious, they should be easily avoidable.

We’re all creatures of habit, but if the habits we develop at work pose a real threat to our safety, it’s time to go back to the drawing board.

Try using HANDS HQ to easily create detailed risk assessments and method statements to ensure no detail gets left out.

Statistics source: http://www.hse.gov.uk/statistics/pdf/fatalinjuries.pdf

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