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How to put the Health and Safety of Construction workers first!

Tags: Career Development, Construction & Property, blog

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Given that the construction sector is arguably the most hazardous in comparison to other industries across the UK, addressing health and safety concerns is vital to protect both the workforce and the reputation of businesses which employ them. In this blog, we uncover the impact of non-compliance with health and safety regulations, and share our advice on what employers can do to keep their employees safe and healthy on site! 

The impact of health and safety failures

In addition to contributing towards human suffering, the immediate impact of workplace injury and work-related ill health is lost working time due to sickness absence and its implications for businesses. The Health and Safety Executive report estimates that 2.3 million working days were lost each year in construction between 2014 and 2017. These absences were due to workplace injury (17 percent) and work-related illness (83 percent).

The report also shows that the total cost of workplace injury and new cases of work-related ill health in construction is estimated to be £1 billion (£0.5 billion injury, £0.5 billion illness). This accounts for approximately 7 percent of the total cost across all industries.

Additionally, non-compliance with guidelines and regulations or the ignoring of health and safety issues also significantly contributes to ruining a company’s reputation and the stripping of accreditations or memberships of leading industry bodies.

For these reasons, it is also most certainly within the employer’s best interest to ensure that the legal health and safety standards are implemented and maintained.

How to put the health and safety of your employees first!

The construction industry has long been characterised by tough men in hard hats, to the point where health is often pushed down to the bottom of their list of priorities. For this reason, employers are responsible to both raise awareness about the importance of maintaining health and safety measures in the workplace, as well as support employees who may be struggling with a physical or mental condition.

Here our top tips to help you do just that:

1. Consult your workforce about the health and safety issues that directly impact them

Given that they are the people on the ground and performing the riskiest tasks within the industry, your employees are often the best people to understand risks in the workplace. Involving your employees in the decision-making process will demonstrate that you take their health and safety seriously. Consulting your employees about their health and safety does not need to be complicated. You can do this by listening and talking to them about:

  • Health and safety and the work they do

  • How risks are controlled

  • The best ways of providing information and training

2. Provide extensive training and continuous information

Everyone who works for you needs to know how to work safely and without risks to health. You must provide clear instructions and information, and adequate training, for your employees.

Consider how much training is necessary. A proportionate approach is needed, for example a low-risk business would not need lengthy technical training. Providing simple information or instructions is likely to be sufficient.

Don’t forget contractors and self-employed people who may be working for you and make sure everyone has the right level of information on:

  • Hazards and risks they may face, if any

  • Measures in place to deal with those hazards and risks, if necessary

  • How to follow any emergency procedures

When you provide training, ask your employees what they think about it, to make sure it’s relevant and effective. Keeping training records will help you to identify when refresher training might be needed.

3. Make arrangements for first aid, accidents and illness - supporting early access to medical intervention

Whether a health condition predates or is contracted within the workplace, it’s vitally important that employers support employees who may be suffering from a mental or physical illness. Employers should give their workforce the opportunity to immediately and swiftly access medical services needed to diagnose and provide treatment when the need arises.

Not only will early medical intervention enable your staff return to work sooner, but with the right support, employees can also return to the same or better performance. Remember to appropriately keep in touch with your employee who may be taking time off due to any form of illness, because failure to do so may cause them to feel alienated from the business.

You are responsible for making sure your employees receive immediate attention if they are taken ill or are injured at work. Accidents and illness can happen at any time and first aid can save lives and prevent minor injuries from becoming major ones.

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