Health & safety is a key part in operating a successful business. It’s important to remember that all companies have some risk of accidents and injuries occurring in the workplace.
However, effective health and safety policies are even more crucial in high risk workplaces like factories and building sites. Workers in the construction industry are often exposed to a number of types of hazards such as falls from height, being struck by factory vehicles, and suffering injuries as a result of operating large machinery.
According to the Canadian Centre for Occupational Health and Safety more than 950 workplace fatalities were recorded in Canada in 2017. What’s more, these construction hazards cost the Canadian society almost 19.8 billion dollar every year in related costs such as lost productivity and health care fees.
Having effective policies in place is therefore vital to ensure that all employees are protected from unsafe work practices. With this in mind, here are some of the key health and safety considerations to be aware of in the construction industry.
Read Below To Understand The Types of Construction Hazards
1. Manual Handling Injury
The majority of construction workers will have to perform manual handling as part of their job role. When items are lifted or moved incorrectly, serious injuries can occur. Experts at Construction Dive state that – “back injuries are the most common work-related, musculoskeletal disorders (WMSDs) reported in construction workers.” However, poor manual handling can lead to a number of other injuries to areas including the neck, shoulders and legs. It is therefore crucial that you make employees aware of the types of hazards associated with manual handling injuries and provide them with regular training on the correct lifting and manoeuvring techniques.
2. Toxic Material Handling
Many buildings contain toxic materials such as asbestos. Toxins can cause a number of serious health conditions including lung disease and even cancer. These construction hazards put workers at high risk of coming into contact with these contaminants while carrying out work such as demolishing or refurbishing buildings. Construction sites are also often full of dust mixed with other hazardous materials that can damage the lungs and worsen the symptoms of pre-existing conditions like asthma. Employers should execute the appropriate risk assessment and provide employees with protective equipment.
3. Fall from height
According to the Infrastructure Health and Safety Association, falling from height continues to be a leading cause of injuries and fatalities in the construction industry. The statistics show that more than 400,000 workers are injured as a result of falls every year. Unfortunately, construction workers are more at risk of falling and injuring themselves, as their job role often requires them to work at height and navigate ladders and gangways. You can help minimize the risk of injury by enforcing effective health and safety policies to mitigate unsafe work practices and reduce the need to work from height whenever possible.
4. Noise related injury
Noise is another construction hazard in the industry. Busy construction sites often experience loud, repetitive noise which can cause long-term hearing problems over time. Some common noise related injuries include tinnitus and hearing loss. What’s more, noise can also act as a dangerous distraction and result in accidents occurring in the workplace. To prevent this, all workers should be provided with the correct Protective Personal Equipment (PPE) to ensure that they’re protected from any loud or repetitive noises.
5. Risk of electrocution
Construction workers are at risk of being electrocuted while carrying out refurbishment work on commercial and domestic buildings, or while working close to overhead power lines and cables. Electrocution can result in severe life-changing injuries and fatalities, so the risks should never be underestimated or overlooked. Many electrical accidents also occur as a result of unqualified construction employees carrying out electrical work.
Conclusion: Things you can do to create a safe working environment
Fortunately, there are many ways to minimize the above types of hazards and create a safer working environment for you and your employees.
One of the most effective ways to protect your workforce, is by teaching them about the importance of health and safety in the workplace and what steps they can take to minimize unsafe work practices. Fortunately, there is a huge range of training courses and qualifications specifically designed for people working in high risk sectors like the construction industry. For instance, the NEBOSH accredited course teaches a broad understanding of the general health and safety issues and helps employees identify and effectively manage any risks in the workplace.
Other ways to improve safety in the workplace include:
- carrying out regular assessments to identify potential construction hazards;
- enforcing a policy of having constant site management and supervision;
- encouraging employees to take regular work breaks and ensuring that all employees follow a mandatory PPE policy that includes wearing hard hats for example.
- Learning the hierarchy of control measures is another effective way to minimize the risk of falls in the workplace. Under this, employees must follow a set of certain practices that include things like avoiding working at height when possible and using the correct equipment.
Adopting these practices should help minimize the risk of accidents and injuries occurring in the workplace.