Room for Improvement in the Construction Industry

Room for Improvement in the Construction Industry

24th March 2015

The construction industry seems to be facing a brighter future these days.  This is partly due to government funding for key infrastructure projects, the Funding for Lending Scheme, the Help to Buy Scheme.  The modern apprenticeship scheme is expected to provide the construction industry with a generation of new skilled workers in the coming years, something that we recently covered in our news about the very latest Degree Apprenticeships Scheme which will provide practical educational courses combining academic knowledge with practical, on the job training.

The draft guidance on the new Construction Design and Management (CDM) Regulations 2015 will come into force on 6th April 2015.  The CDM Regs set out duties for both Principal Designers and Designers, which are specific roles in the draft regulations and will have implications for all architects, both those acting as a lead designer and those providing any element of the design.

Despite the more optimistic outlook, there are still challenges ahead for the construction industry.  The Health and Safety Executive’s Safer Sites initiative which came to a close at the end of last year discovered that a shocking 40% of construction sites failed health and safety spot checks.  There are still prosecutions relating to the unsafe removal of asbestos, poor welfare and site conditions and corporate manslaughter, so there’s certainly some room for improvement within the industry.

Reduced budgets, increased workloads and added pressures combine to make it difficult to re-evaluate existing occupational health and safety management methods which will require strong leadership to bring about an improvement. 

Leaders in the construction industry, whether they are owners, directors, senior managers or supervisors will need to make sure they have a clear understanding of their corporate responsibilities if we are to see the necessary changes.  Effective leadership and engaged workers are a key priority if we want to achieve this.  These issues are firmly embedded within the HSE’s Construction Division Plan of Work 2014/2015 and will remain as core interests in the future. 

One of the most important goals for construction companies in the coming years is to achieve Zero Harm.  This will mean different things for different organisations, but basically means zero deaths, zero permanently disabling injuries and zero accidents and injuries in the workplace.  With the construction industry being so high risk, this may seem like an unachievable and unrealistic goal.  However, aiming for Zero Harm will have the effect of reducing accidents and injuries in the future.  When we consider that statistics show that accidents and fatalities in the workplace have steadily dropped since the Health and Safety Executive was formed in 1974, this demonstrates that taking proactive measures to increase health and safety in the workplace can make a big difference.