Safety on Site – The Five Step Guide

Safety on Site – The Five Step Guide

12th March 2019

The construction industry is one of the riskiest sectors in which to work here in the UK – it accounts for a quarter of all fatal workplace injuries annually.  Britain has some of the most stringent health and safety legislation in the world, and this is continuously updated and amended in a bid to reduce the number of accidents in our sector.  However, legislation is only effective if rules and regulations are adhered to and we’re lucky in the UK to have a more effective enforcement process than many countries.  With 2.2 million workers employed in construction, ensuring safety onsite is a vital issue which is why we’ve come up with a handy, five-step guide to safety.

  1. Step One – Risk Assessment.  Carry out a comprehensive risk assessment to identify all potential risks and make sure all employees are aware of these risks and how to avoid them.  Pay attention to;
    1. Size and layout of the construction site
    2. The type of work to be undertaken and length of time it will take
    3. Conditions of work – e.g. electrical hazards, likelihood of falling objects, sloping surfaces, etc.
    4. Number of workers and visitors onsite
    5. Free access with walkways that are clear of debris or materials.
    6. Make sure fire exit routes are clear and properly signposted.
    7. Make sure hazards are clearly marked.
  2.  Step Two – Protective Measures.  The risk assessment can now be used to determine what sort of protective measures and equipment are necessary to reduce risks.  For work at height, the correct solution for each task at hand must be provided.  In order to protect against fires onsite, you need to ensure that the right types of fire extinguishers are available.  We’ll have more detailed information on fire safety next week, so be sure to look out for it.
  3. Step Three – Staff Training.  Employees have a vital role to play in reducing the risks onsite so training is an essential element when it comes to reducing risks and avoiding accidents and incidents.  Make sure that all employees are familiar with:
    1.  Risks associated with the working environment and main activities onsite
    2. How to use equipment correctly
    3. How to report hazards and what risks to look for
    4. Location of fire protection and first aid equipment
    5. Site evacuation procedure, including all exits (which should bear signage)
    6. Point of contact during emergencies
  4. Step Four – First Aid.  Fast access to first aid can save lives and lead to speedier recovery.  All employers are legally obligated to provide appropriate first aid equipment, facilities and fully trained personnel to administer first aid.  All first aid arrangements should cover all working shifts, so it may be necessary to provide training for several members of staff to ensure adequate cover at all times.
  5. Step Five – Compliance.  Falls are responsible for 50% of fatalities and are the most common cause of death in the construction sector.  Before any work at height is carried out, all precautions must be taken to prevent or reduce the risk of injury.  Site managers must consider:
    1. Whether the work at height can be avoided by using different work methods or different equipment
    2. Can you use equipment that will prevent a fall from occurring, such as scaffolding or a mobile elevating work platform (MEWP)?
    3. Put in place measures to reduce the distance and consequences of a fall, should one occur – for example, nets, safety decks or soft-landing system
    4. Have all options been considered and are you sure that you are using the safest means of possible to gain access to the work area?