Building Site Health & Safety

  • Health & Safety
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Peninsula Team, Peninsula Team

(Last updated )

In this guide, we'll discuss building site Health & Safety, potential hazards, and your legal obligations when working on a construction project.

Working in the construction industry is no easy task. In fact, it comes with its own set of safety hazards that could cause harm to your employees. This is why you must take appropriate measures to ensure their safety.

Failure to do so could have serious consequences for your business. For example, if an accident occurs, you might be investigated by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE). And if they find you non-compliant with Health & Safety legislation, they could close down your business.

In this guide, we'll discuss building site Health & Safety, potential hazards, and your legal obligations when working on a construction project.

Why is Health & Safety important on a building site?

The construction industry is prone to accidents and danger, so you must properly manage Health & Safety on your building site.

Without adequate safety management, serious injuries, and even fatalities might occur. Other reasons why it's important include:

  • It maintains your legal compliance.
  • It upholds your reputation as a responsible employer.
  • It increases trust in your clients and customers.

What are the top health risks in construction?

Countless Health & Safety risks come with construction work. For example, materials falling from a height can cause great harm to your workers if they were to hit them.

Other construction health risks can include:

  • Falls and trip hazards: Construction workers are at risk of falling from equipment at a certain height - which is why fall prevention is important. For example, you can use non-slip mats, or ensure that there is little clutter on-site.
  • Manual handling: This can be a significant health risk to your employees. Lifting heavy equipment can lead individuals to develop musculoskeletal disorders later on in life. Ensure your lifting operations are monitored - and that staff are lifting heavy loads correctly.
  • Noise: Noise from machinery can also cause your workers to develop ill health effects, such as hearing loss. To prevent this, ensure workers are using proper ear protection.
  • Vibrations: Vibrations from machinery can also cause health problems, such as hand-arm vibration syndrome - which is a permanent numbness in the hands and arms. To avoid this, use the right equipment to reduce any need to grip heavy tools. For example, jigs and suspension systems.

What are your legal obligations when it comes to building site safety?

There are several legal obligations you have as a building site owner - and an employer. Not only do you have to consider your workplace safety and employees, but the safety of visitors and passersby too.

Your specific responsibilities include:

Conducting risk assessments

According to the Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations 1999, all employers must identify risks within their workplace.

To do so, you must appoint a competent person to walk through your construction site and consider any factors or equipment that might harm staff. This is called a risk assessment, and helps to understand any dangers your site presents.

Implementing control measures

The Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations 1999 also states that employers must implement safety measures once they've risk-assessed their workplace.

Safety measures help to remove or minimise risks the assessment identifies; as well as helping workers avoid injuries. For example, construction sites might use safety net systems to protect workers in case of a fall.

Installing safety signs

The Health and Safety Regulations (Safety Signs and Signals Regulations 1996) outline that employers must provide safety signs in circumstances where there is a significant risk to Health & Safety.

For example, you might need safety signs in confined areas of your site - to highlight escape routes to staff in case of a fire.

Creating a health & Safety policy

The Health and Safety at Work Act 1974 requires employers to create a Health & Safety policy for their workplace. The policy should highlight your business's safety rules and emergency procedures - so staff know what steps to take if an accident occurs.

If you have five or more employees, you must ensure the policy is written down - and displayed in a place where staff can access it. For example, an employee handbook. However, it’s good practice to write it down no matter the amount of employees you have.

Organising Health & Safety training

The Health and Safety at Work Act 1974 also asks employers to provide their staff with adequate training where necessary. Those working in offices will likely need a small amount of training, but those working in construction will need more, as the risk of harm is higher.

This training should be provided to every employee, from apprentices to site managers. Ensure every worker is aware of your Health & Safety procedures, and ways they can keep themselves safe.

Creating a construction phase plan

The Construction (Design and Management) Regulations 2015 states that every construction project must create a construction phase plan. This is a document that outlines the safety requirements, site rules, and specific measures taken onsite to reduce the risk of harm occurring.

This must be created before the construction phase begins and is the responsibility of the project's principal contractor.

Providing personal protective equipment (PPE)

Under the Personal Protective Equipment at Work Regulations 1992, employers must provide PPE to those who may be exposed to harm.

For example, on a construction site, this might be providing hard hats to workers to avoid injury from falling objects. Or ensuring workers wear gloves when working with hazardous materials and chemicals, to prevent exposure to burns.

This list is not limited, however. For example, ensuring staff have clear routes of escape in case of a fire is also vital - so remember to uphold the correct fire safety standards as well.


Who manages Health & Safety on a construction site?

As an employer, you are responsible for managing Health & Safety on your building site. But, your construction workers, contractors and vendors must also uphold this and comply with relevant laws.

Who conducts a building site inspection?

The UK's building safety regulator, The Health and Safety Executive, conducts building site inspections. These inspections can be proactive; as part of procedure, or can be reactive; following a complaint or accident.

Who can perform a risk assessment of your workplace?

A competent person is the only person able to perform a risk assessment of your workplace. Such a person will have the skills and knowledge to identify hazards and assess the risk of harm occurring properly. They'll also advise on what safety equipment and procedures you might need.

Your building site's Health & Safety

You must maintain your building site's Health & Safety at all times. Not only is it essential to ensure the safety of your workers, but it's also your legal duty. You must perform construction risk assessments, introduce safety measures, and train your staff on the best Health & Safety procedures.

Failure to do so could have serious repercussions for your business. Not only could it result in a serious injury or occupational health issues, but it might also mean you receive a visit from the Health & Safety Executive.

And if they find you seriously in breach of your obligations - as well as a high risk of harm, they may close your business.

How Peninsula can help your building site's Health & Safety

There's thousands of injuries reported within the construction industry each year, which is why you need to be aware of the relevant Health & Safety rules and regulations. But, if you're a business owner, this can take up valuable time - and every minute working on growing your company counts.

That's why Peninsula is here to help. We can help with every aspect of your Health & Safety management. Including:

  • Site set-up and layout.
  • Training.
  • Construction phase plans.
  • Risk assessments.

Not to mention, our 24/7 helpline can answer any and every problem you have regarding construction Health & Safety. And, if you need help dealing with your company's HR, we can help with that too.

Want to find out more about the help we offer to construction companies? Contact us on 0800 028 2420 and book a free consultation with a Health & Safety consultant today.

Our teams offer expert advice on Health & Safety for your construction projects. Our teams provide Health & Safety advice which is available 24/7, 365 days a year. Risk management has never been easier when you work with our Health & Safety experts.

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