The construction industry is clearly a rewarding and engaging career. However, it is often dangerous due to the nature of the work. The fast paced environment, heavy machinery and tools, working at heights and various other aspects all combine to make the industry one of the most hazardous to operate in. However, strict and detailed health and safety legislation is in place in order to reduce these risks. Furthermore, health and safety in the construction industry receives a lot of attention. Stories of firms receiving fines and penalties for flouting these rules and regulations are common. The statistics concerning health and safety in the construction industry are still very worrying.
A Brief History
Historically, the construction industry is one of the most hazardous industries in the UK. Previous statistics have made uncomfortable reading. For example, according to the HSE, there were 80 fatalities in 1997 in the construction sector. In 1998 and 1999 there were 65 and 81 respectively. Evidently, health and safety has traditionally been an issue in the construction sector.
Over the years various legislation has been introduced in an attempt to tackle the health and safety issues in the industry. For example, Working at Height Regulations were introduced in 2005. More recently in 2015 were the CDM (Construction, Design and Management) regulations. The implementation of this legislation, is of course, important to health and safety. However, we believe that education is crucial. Through training of all levels of workers, from operative to director, we believe that these worrying statistics can be reduced. However, there are many dangerous misconceptions regarding training.
A worrying trend.
We recently exhibited at UK Construction Week at the NEC. The show was a lot of fun and we met some great people. However, there was a worrying trend of replies we got when talking about training. Many self-employed contractors and non-site workers would reply that ‘I don’t need training’ or ‘I don’t work on sites’. We want to highlight why these opinions are so dangerous. The HSE states ‘Risks on larger projects can be substantial but, generally, large projects are better at controlling risks than most small projects, where there can be a lack of awareness of even basic health and safety standards’. Furthermore, they identify that small businesses account for the majority of fatal incidents. Yes we acknowledge that the smaller businesses outnumber the larger construction firms. But the risks on smaller jobs should be easier to control. We believe that basic health and safety training for operatives and managers will hugely improve these statistics.
Clearly, health and safety in the construction industry is improving. The health and safety legislation and training is making a difference. This is evident with (30) the lowest number of fatalities on record in 2016. However, there is still a long way to go. 30 deaths in the industry is 30 too many. Furthermore, although the construction industry makes up just 7% of the UK workforce, around 25% of workplace deaths in the past 5 years have occurred in the construction industry. The industry needs to work to reduce these figures and training is one method of making a drastic change.