Construction continues to be the most dangerous industry for workers in the United Kingdom. Despite fantastic scope for career progression, word-class technological advancement and esteemed opportunities within the industry, the risks are still immense.
From 2022 to 2023, there were 45 fatal injuries to construction workers in the UK. That’s more than double the second-most dangerous industry, highlighting the increased risk faced by contractors and employees in the sector. From work-related injuries to unavoidable hazards and pollutants on-site, construction workers must acknowledge the dangers.
Whether you’re considering an apprenticeship in construction or you’ve just started a new company, it’s always worth knowing about the main hazards and the best ways to protect your team.
Understanding the dangers of construction: Three key industry risks
- Working at a height
Figures from the Health and Safety Executive reveal that falls from a height are responsible for the most fatal injuries across all sectors. Whether during a renovation or an entirely new project, construction workers are frequently exposed to heights on multistorey buildings and regular homes too.
The risk increases with the height of the building, but safety measures should always be equally considered – especially if structural collapse is possible. Falls from a height carry a range of devastating consequences, and victims might need to make personal injury or brain injury claims after a catastrophic fall.
Scaffolding, for example, must be professionally installed and checked for safety before being used, especially at the start of a project. Workers must always adhere to weight limits and exercise caution in wet or extreme weather conditions.
- Heavy machinery
Working with machinery is one of the most integral parts of any construction job, but this too comes with risk. Staff must know how to safely operate the machinery itself and perform other tasks around it.
Once the team has finished using the machinery, they need to know how to power it down and store it safely. If it’s a manually operated tool, using a good lifting and handling technique could help to prevent back and shoulder injuries.
Implementing a thorough and accessible training plan is essential to promote best practice around heavy machinery. When it’s used safely and for the correct purpose, the risk of accidents decreases. Other staff must always exercise caution when working around heavy machinery, even if their task is unrelated.
- Moving objects
Moving objects and vehicles are a perpetual hazard on construction sites. From bulldozers to delivery lorries, every site should ensure dedicated roadways or cleared areas reserved specifically for manoeuvring vehicles.
The law says that vehicles and pedestrians must both be able to move around safely on a construction site. Implementing an effective traffic management strategy is essential and will reduce the risk of avoidable accidents. Try to ensure clearly marked:
- Entrances and exits
- Crossing points for pedestrians
- Junctions and barriers
- Roadway obstructions
Every project manager and team leader working in construction should be familiar with the industry health and safety handbook. As staff awareness is raised through training and refresher sessions, it’s much easier to spot potential hazards before they put people in danger. Furthermore, conducting regular risk assessments helps to ensure the overall safety of your team and promote an honest, transparent culture.