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Written by
on 06 June 2017


The term “accident” implies an unavoidable situation, an unforeseen disaster that brings harm to people and property. And although genuine accidents do happen on construction sites, you have a duty to prevent them wherever possible.

An important part of prevention is understanding how accidents happen in the first place – preferably learning from the mistakes of others, rather than making your own.

Here are some of the top causes of accidents on construction sites:

Ineffective risk assessments

Often accidents happen on a site simply because potential risks have not been identified. It may be that a cursory risk assessment has been completed, but not enough attention has been paid to the task, so important details are missed.

Even if an employee follows one of these risk assessments to the letter, they may still be in danger of being injured.

Poor training

When employees are left to use equipment without proper training, it is entirely possible that they will do so incorrectly. Without fully understanding how to use a machine and its safeguards properly, workers will always be at risk of injury.

Training extends beyond machinery and tools too. Employees will need training in working at height, or proper lifting to avoid injury and accident too.

Insufficient protection for machinery

Heavy machinery typically incorporates guards and other measures to prevent injury. If these guards are not properly assembled or used, there is a serious risk of trapping and crushing, with potentially fatal consequences.

Machinery needs to be checked before every use to ensure that all the safety measures are properly deployed.

Incorrect PPE

Hard hats, steel toe caps and hi-vis vests are essential to protecting employees on site – but they are not the only measures you need to consider. Face masks should be worn when working in dusty environments for instance, and gloves should be issued when dealing with hot surfaces, or equipment that could potentially trap and crush fingers or even when handling materials that could harm your hands.

Your workplace risk assessments must consider the correct PPE for each task but only as a last resort, your site foreman should also check every employee is properly equipped at the start of the working day.

Disengaged workers

Sometimes your employees are their own worst enemies – they may be tempted to cut corners to save time and effort. Unfortunately, these time-saving measures can have devastating consequences, especially if they involve skipping details of the provided risk assessment.

You need to foster a culture of excellence that respects safety guidelines at all times – otherwise, employees will present a significant risk to themselves and their colleagues.

Obvious – and therefore avoidable

None of these risk factors should come as a surprise – which means that they can all be avoided. For more help and advice on helping to raise on-site standards and to avoid more accidents, please give us a call.

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Have your say in the comments section below.

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A chartered (fellow) safety and risk management practitioner with 20+ years of experience. David provides a healthy dose of how-to articles, advice and guidance to make compliance easier for construction professionals, Architects and the built environment. Get social with David on Twitter, Facebook and Linkedin.

One Comment
  • Tony Watson says:

    I guess a few other states could be added to the Disengaged group including fatigued, multitasking or being generally distracted. Certainly appears to be true in the farming sector.

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