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Written by
on 14 February 2017


HSE announces priorities for health and safety in Construction

old and worn hard hatsConstruction remains Britain’s most deadly industry, with site accidents accounting for 210 fatalities in 2016. Consistent effort by the HSE and businesses has helped to drive death rates down, but there is still plenty of work to be done.

This year, the HSE has announced three priorities which they will focus on when working with the construction industry. The overriding concern is that management of health risks have not been keeping pace with safety improvements – and these new focal points will help to address that shortfall.

1. Renewed focus on lung disease and musculoskeletal disorders

With improved PPE and dust extraction/suppression techniques, cases of occupational lung disease should be decreasing in frequency. Statistics show that silicosis and other lung diseases caused by inhaling dust and asbestos remain a serious concern.

Similarly, issues like vibration white finger and carpal tunnel syndrome are scheduled for greater attention this year too. Failing to operate machinery within specified parameters, or poor workspace ergonomics can cause these avoidable injuries.

2. SME risk management and control

Despite having many more risk factors, large construction projects typically have a lower incidence of injury because they have more comprehensive safeguards in place. This year the HSE will be working with smaller construction firms to “beef up” their risk management processes to help reduce accidents.

Expect to see more campaigns designed to raise awareness about your responsibilities and how they can best be carried out.

3. Increase uptake of CDM 2015

The Construction (Design and Management) Regulations 2015 constitute a best-practice framework for carrying out building and refurbishment projects. The CDM 2015 regulations standardise health and safety provisions across the industry, so that SMEs can apply the same safeguards as their larger counterparts.

More importantly, CDM 2015 is a legal requirement for all construction projects, regardless of the size of your firm. In the event of an HSE inspector visiting one of your sites, they will want to see evidence of the framework being applied to protect workers.

Valuable targets for employers and workers alike

These three focal points are a positive step towards making constructions sites in the UK safer. The HSE is unapologetic about the increased focus on small firms, but the statistics speak for themselves – workers on smaller sites are more likely to be injured.

The HSE’s three point “hit list” is also a useful guide for firms looking to draw up their own action plan for improving site safety. By devoting a little more time to understanding the factors involved, they can begin implementing new safeguards immediately.

But if you are concerned that you are failing on any of these issues, or you’re not sure how well you comply, you should seek professional advice immediately. Give us a call today and we’ll happily talk you through what the HSE is looking for, and how you can better protect your workers.

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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.