Back to Basics - Avoid the Basic Mistakes That are Crippling British Industry

Back to Basics - Avoid the Basic Mistakes That are Crippling British Industry

14th December 2015

According to the UK Health and Safety Executive (HSE) about 170 people are fatally injured at work annually and more than 100,000 serious injuries are reported to the HSE.  These serious incidents cause so much suffering and many are life changing.  Furthermore, millions of working days each year are lost, resulting in a cost to society in general of billions of pounds.  Alarmingly, many of these incidents are the result of the same basic health and safety mistakes that have been killing and injuring people for decades.  These mistakes are spotted by inspectors visiting work places in the UK on a routine basis and so many of these mistakes are avoidable.  Today, we’re taking a look at some of the mistakes that are particularly relevant in the construction industry. 


Nearly 20% of falls from height in the workplace that are reported involve ladders.  The most common reasons for the falls are ladders being incorrectly used, poorly maintained or not fit for purpose.  If it is considered that a ladder is the right tool for the task at hand, employers must ensure that the ladder is in safe condition and has been properly maintained.  A ladder is not always the correct tool for the job and a risk assessment should always be carried out to ascertain whether other access equipment should be used instead.  Ladders are best suited to low risk, short duration tasks.


One in every 12 injuries in the workplace here in the UK are as a result of a fall.  Low and high falls kill or seriously injure hundreds of people every year, accounting for more than 700,000 working days being lost...  HSE inspectors regularly find people working on roofs or scaffolding without the appropriate safeguards such as edge protection, fall prevention equipment or harnesses.


Although the use of asbestos for construction was outlawed several years ago, the material is present in so many buildings here in the UK and workers undertaking refurbishment or maintenance work come across asbestos on a routine basis.  There are strict rules on asbestos removal.  Despite the risks being well known, inspectors still come across workers drilling, cutting, sawing and breaking up asbestos containing materials (ACMs), putting themselves and others in the vicinity at risk.


Vehicle related incidents in the workplace account for around 50 deaths and 1,500 major injuries on an annual basis.  The key to avoiding most of these injuries is better organised workplace transport.  This includes following simple rules such as keeping vehicles and people apart around loading areas and factory spaces and ensuring that loads are properly secured when being moved.  People who operate vehicles in the workplace should have the proper training or qualifications to ensure safe practice is followed at all times.

With so many injuries and fatalities that could have been avoided, it’s about time we all stop and think before carrying out routine tasks to ensure that all safety precautions have been taken.