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Written by
on 02 December 2013


Construction Health and Safety SpecialistsUndoubtedly Construction Health and Safety is very important and sites are often considered one of the most dangerous places to work, simply because there are so many potential hazards that could cause illness, injury or even death in some cases.  Health and Safety legislation now places a great deal of responsibility on site managers and supervisors to ensure a safe construction site, therefore, managers and supervisors have a duty of care to make themselves familiar with construction health and safety and understand their responsibilities in maintaining a safe environment.

Construction firms are responsible and therefore liable for any accidents that occur as a result of negligence to health and safety.  This includes paying out compensation to anyone affected by the firm’s lack of care in construction health and safety, which could potentially be a significant amount of money if the accident is particularly bad.  Therefore, it is beneficial for construction firms to be aware of construction health and safety and ensure it is adhered to, with particular attention to the following

  • Asbestos

Asbestos can be a very dangerous substance, particularly when the asbestos fibres become airborne as it can seriously damage the lungs, checking:

  • If there is any asbestos onsite
  • How much
  • Where it is
  • What condition it is in
  • Whether the work will disturb the asbestos
  • Whether the asbestos should be removed/protected, and how
  • Carbon Monoxide:

Carbon Monoxide (CO) is odourless, colourless and tasteless, more importantly it is poisonous, CO prevents the body from supplying oxygen to cells, organs and tissues, causing drowsiness, nausea, breathlessness and headaches.  There are three main ways construction workers might be exposed to CO, potentially leading to poisoning and even death:

  1. Staff facilities – such as gas cookers/heaters which produce carbon monoxide gas.
  2. Refurbished buildings– any refurbishment could potentially disrupt gas pipes and/or ventilation systems, leading to a build-up of CO.
  3. Gas Safe Register for engineers – all appliances that are installed and maintained should be done so by an engineer who is gas safe registered.
  • Manual Handling and musculoskeletal disorders:

Site workers who have to undertake manual handling regularly are at a high risk of developing musculoskeletal disorders, i.e. an injury affecting muscles, joints, spine and  tendons.  Manual handling should be avoided wherever possible, if it is not possible then an assessment should be made of each task assessing the risks to implement changes and provide information to site workers.

  • Dermatitis:

Dermatitis is an irritation of the skin that occurs when it is exposed to certain irritants and substances. With dryness, itching, redness, cracking and even blistering of the skin, particularly on the hands and arms, dermatitis can be very painful, as such it is the responsibility of the site manager to ensure that exposure to hazardous substances are minimalised or eradicated.

  • Respiratory diseases:

Breathing difficulties and respiratory diseases are caused from inhaling hazardous substances which damage the lungs. It is site manager’s duty of care to ensure hazardous substance are removed or controlled using, for example, extracting dust/water suppression, not just personal protective equipment.

  • Noise:

Site managers are required to assess the level of noise created, reduce this noise or eliminate it completely, and offer ear protection for site workers.

  • Stress related to work:

Site managers must understand what causes stress for workers, and then control the risk of employers becoming stressed due to work.

  • Hand-arm vibration:

Workers using vibrating power tools are at risk of developing problems in their arms, such as a loss of strength or a loss of feeling and severe pain.  Site workers must assess the risk of injury and ensure the risk is maintained at a low level.

For more information or further queries, please see the website.

Now its your turn.

What hazards do you consider are equally important as the ones highlighted above, I’d love to see your comments.

About the author

David Cant is a Director at Veritas Consulting. The SME’s favourite go-to consultant for health and safety know-how. Bucket loads of experience. Fluent in practical advice. Solutionist with a brain you can pick. You can find him across social media on Twitter, Facebook and Linkedin.

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  • Alice says:

    A really interesting article. There are so many risks on a construction site and personally I think that all possible causes of accident or injury are as important as another. Although health and safety is often accused of being over the top and unnecessary you really can’t put a price on peoples safety.