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Construction Health and Safety, and common sense
Posted by David Cant on March 11, 2009

Construction Health and Safety

Construction Health and SafetyHealth and Safety is applied common sense and accidents happen when common sense is absent.

The distress, grief and sadness experienced by a wife, mother, family and friends on losing a husband or son or daughter through a traffic accident in itself is traumatic and grief stricken. The scene of a tragic ending in serious injury or death is dismal, undignified and soul destroying and casts a dark, demoralising shadow over all present for a long period.

I’m sure you will agree that Construction is a very hazardous industry for people to work in today and has potentially many risks to life and limb. The exposure to accidents is daily and varied i.e working at height, above water, excavation etc.

For the good of all a Health and Safety Culture has to be created on all construction sites and rigorously policed to ensure compliance.

Health and Safety Culture

Construction health and safety legislation is enshrined in rules and regulations. Construction activities necessarily involves change on a constant basis by comparison with other industries. Sites develop with progress of work hence the working environment is altering hour by hour. Change is known to be one of the prime conditions which induces unsafe behaviour and can preclude straightforward defensive measures.

Often it is difficult to legislate for the enormous variation in the size of projects. The diversity of employment arrangements ie. Subcontractors with Main Contractor employees prohibit any overarching health and safety policy, this must change. Health and Safety regulations are required to apply generically across the spectrum.

The development of the Principal designer a duty holder required under the Construction Design and management Regulations 2015  is aimed to improve coordination of the various design aspects of a project and duty holders on-site to ensure minimum standards of health and safety are implemented.

Ensuring health and safety on a construction site is a complex challenge for everyone involved onsite nowadays. Nevertheless a safety culture must be created. Life and limb are precious, our health is paramount and our greatest asset. “The development of a health and safety culture must start at an early age– Pre-school”.

Construction Health and Safety must be implemented

Historically up to recently the duties of implementing health and safety were passed to the Contractor. Legislation has changed this situation somewhat on paper but in my view the Clients and Designers have still left safety in the hands of the Contractor.

Safety must be enshrined in the legislation.
Safety must be enshrined in company policy.

Direction and involvement must come from the Board Rooms not alone of the Contractor but the Client and Designer. The legislation should tie down and apportion responsibly to all concerned. All the duty holders should be made responsible. For example those at the coal face who ignore safety should be penalised.

The Client and Designer at the outset of the project should ensure safe buildability of the works. Health and safety should be considered from the outset and not just factored into the construction stage.

Historically the above players have been at fault at this stage. Large improvements can be achieved by designing out risk and hazards. Greater efforts should be made to identify the risks and hazards so they can be designed out of the works.

If errors, delay omission and malfunctions occur in the study and planning phases they will be manifested at site level. The Client and Designer should ensure an adequate programme time for the construction phase.

A tight programme induces haste and errors that can result in accident.

Research conducted by the ICE in the UK showed “that 75% of all Engineers working on design believed more could be done to design out risks”. The old designers attitude that whatever he details is for the Contractor to build is not enough and not acceptable anymore. 60% of fatal accidents are attributable to decisions and choices made before works begins.

Legislation must be in place to ensure the Safety of Personnel in the work place. This must make all players in a construction project responsible and held responsible. Lack of carrying our responsibilities should be penalised.

Penalties for various misdeeds should be stated in detail for all parties. Interactivity between Client / Design / Contractor regularly to discuss risks, hazards etc. should take place.

Most of all having the Legislation and Policies in place, ongoing policing should take place with action implemented with a firm hand. Health and safety is matter of life and death.

Neglect could result in the loss of life. Remember it could be yours.

Life is Sacred

– it is enshrined in our constitution.
– it has to be protected.


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 - Twitter and Facebook also Linkedin

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