Construction Risk Assessment

  • Risk Assessment
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Peninsula Group, HR and Health & Safety Experts

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Construction advice guide for employers from Peninsula Business Services UK. Employers call us today on 0800 0282 420.

The construction industry is known as one of the most dangerous places to work in.

There are numerous safety hazards found in these workplaces - impacting both workers and the public. A great way to minimise these risks is by using a construction risk assessment.

Employers can utilise these assessments to ensure all legal compliance is met, whilst protecting construction workers.

If you neglect construction law, you could end up causing serious, even fatal injuries. As well as facing compensation claims, business closure, and potential imprisonment.

In this guide, we’ll look at what a construction risk assessment is, who is responsible for them, and how to effectively manage these safety plans.

What is a construction risk assessment?

A construction risk assessment is a written evaluation used to manage health and safety hazards present in the construction industry.

These examination reports find risks that can affect both employees and non-employees. Such as contractors, customers, and the general public.

Before starting a construction project, you must know your legal responsibilities are. Employers can easily control risks identified in these assessments. You must have a written form if you hire more than five employees for any project.

Are construction site risk assessment a legal requirement?

Yes, employers must legally conduct risk assessments according to their construction sites.

Construction work comes with all kinds of heavy labour and work processes. So, workers suffer a higher level of injuries compared to general workplaces, like an office. That's why you must prioritise health & safety during every project.

Employers must comply with strict legal requirements outlined in:

  • The Construction (Design and Management) Regulations 2015.
  • The Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations 1999 (MHSWA).
  • The Health and Safety at Work etc. Act 1974 (HSWA).
  • The Personal Protective Equipment at Work Regulations 2022.
  • The Provision and Use of Work Equipment Regulations 1998 (PUWER) .
  • The Lifting Operations and Lifting Equipment Regulations 1998 (LOLER) .
  • The Control of Substances Hazardous to Health Regulations 2002 (COSHH).
  • The Health and Safety (Consultation with Employees) Regulations 1996.
  • The Work at Height Regulations 2005.

Without construction risk assessments, employers risk being held liable for work-related injuries. These could even include claims of gross negligence and corporate manslaughter.

Who is responsible for a construction risk assessment?

Employers have an overall responsibility for their construction risk assessment. However, they can appoint a responsible or competent person to manage the control measures.

For example, you can assign this responsibility to a foreman, site manager, or a health & safety officer. They must be properly trained and competent with enforcing safety precautions, protecting employee wellbeing, and complying with legal duties.

Sometimes, they may need to report to the Health and Safety Executive (HSE). Before your work begins, you must notify these professional bodies if:

  • A project is estimated to last longer than 30 working days and employs over 20 workers at any one time.
  • A project is estimated to last over 500 person days.

What are common accidents found on a construction site?

A construction site will present all kinds of accidents and injury risks. However, some of the common ones include:

Slips, trips, and falls

Construction workers often face slips, trips, and falls on site. Often, these injuries are minor and need very little time to heal. However, serious slips, trips, and falls can leave a worker with semi- or permanent damage.

Struck by objects

Most construction projects will use equipment and machinery to move materials like cement, brick, and heavy metals. Workers are at risk of being hit by debris or moving parts (from equipment). Being struck by objects leads to serious, even fatal, injuries.


One of the most dangerous occurrences found on a construction site involves electrical hazards. This comes from faulty wires, unsafe outlets, and improper use of extension cords. Electrical injuries can lead to permanent injuries and even instant death.

Hazardous substances

Sometimes, a construction project may involve using hazardous substances. Without proper protection, workers may suffer from chemical splashes, toxic fumes, and radiating energy sources.

Manual handling

Along with moving equipment, work tasks may involve a lot of manual handling. Workers must receive training on how to manoeuvre objects - protecting themselves and others around them.

Are there different types of construction risk assessments?

Yes, there are different types of risk assessments you may use for your construction project. Employers should choose one that meets their legal duties, as well as being applicable to the work they're conducting.

Here are examples of different construction risk assessments you can use:

  • Qualitative risk assessment: This is the most common form of risk assessment. The risk levels are usually categorised as high, medium, or low. These look at the probability of the hazard, as well as the severity of them.
  • Generic risk assessment: This is used for common hazards present in a construction task or activity. Employers can use a single or multiple assessments across different sites.
  • Dynamic risk assessment: This method is used for spontaneous inspection reports. Usually, these risks are unknown or uncommon; so, employers need to think about developing and changing their work methods.
  • Site specific risk assessment: This considers a construction site's specific location, environment, and workforce. The assessment may review things like manual handling, noise levels, and fire safety risks.

How to conduct construction risk assessments

Construction sites come with all kinds of potential risks - some minor, some major. However, you must do your best to comply with safety laws during every project.

Conducting assessments will help you protect your workers - leading to a safer site, increased productivity, and growing business success.

Employers must follow the HSE’s ‘Risk Assessment: A Brief Guide to Controlling Risks in the Workplace’. There are five steps needed when conducting a construction risk assessment:

Identify the potential hazards

The first step of your risk assessment involves identifying potential hazards on a construction site.

Employers must think about risks found in your equipment, materials, and work practices. And how they could affect both workers and non-workers.

It's important to both identify major and minor risks found on your construction site. You may need to report specific hazards to professional bodies, like the HSE, fire service, or the local council if necessary.

Assess who is at risk

Employers should then assess who specifically is at risk during construction work.

You must identify those that are considered as vulnerable; like pregnant workers or those with disabilities. Communication channels are crucial on construction sites; so think about workers whose first language isn't English, or have speech/hearing issues.

You must also consider non-workers who might be affected by the hazards. For example, a client or contractor involved in the project.

Evaluate every significant risk

The next step is about evaluating and preventing risks found during their construction project.

Evaluate the severity of each hazard and how severe people may be impacted by these. Usually, the bigger the hazard, the heavier the control measures.

The construction risk assessment may identify certain protective personal equipment (PPE) or training needed for specific areas.

Record significant findings

Employers should then think about how to record their significant findings from thorough examinations.

A simple system to use is recording risks as low, medium, and high. For more complicated ones, score them individually based on severity and repetition. That way, you can aim to permanently eliminate them or control them within reason.

If you hire five or more people, you must legally have a written risk assessment. However, you must be able to demonstrate how you control risks whether you have five or more employees.

Documenting helps to improve future sites and educate workers - all whilst protecting your site from legal liability.

Review your risk assessment

The last step involves reviewing your construction risk assessment.

Once you identify hazards, you need to make changes to your work process. These changes should then be updated within your risk assessment. It's best practice to review after a significant change to your workforce, equipment, or law affecting your site.

Remember, if an injury or dangerous risk occurs on site, you must report it to HSE. Employers may need to complete a RIDDOR evaluation as part of inspection reports.

Is a construction phase plan the same as a risk assessment?

No, a construction phase plan is not the same as a risk assessment. A phase plan is a separate document that's required from the only contractor involved in a project. Phase plans will usually include:

  • Project description: This includes key information and team involved in a project. For example, like a principal designer, principal contractor, and other key suppliers.
  • Project management: This covers management processes, like safety training, site rules, and emergency procedures.
  • Health & safety file: This involves methods for gathering information, as well as formatting the findings. This is usually needed if you hire more than one contractor.

Do you need a method statement for a construction project?

Yes, if you are planning on making structural changes as part of your project, you need a method statement.

This written document is usually used for high-risk projects; like construction work at a height. Method statements show exactly how the project will be carried out. It can also help identify health and safety purposes and control measures needed for building sites.

They can take account of risks identified by the risk assessment and communicate the safe system of work to those carrying it out. Especially for higher-risk complex or unusual work (e.g. steel and formwork erection, demolition or the use of hazardous substances). 

A method statement draws together the information compiled about the various hazards. And the ways they are to be controlled for any particular job from the conclusions of the risk assessments.

Get expert guidance on construction risk assessment with Peninsula

It’s crucial to follow the right steps when it comes to assessing risk assessments in building sites. By doing so, you’ll be able to protect their welfare, as well as your own.

Remember, if you fail to comply with construction law, training, and examination reports, it could lead to detrimental consequences for your business.

Peninsula offers expert guidance on creating a construction risk assessment. Our HR team offers 24/7 HR employment advice which is available 365 days a year.

Want to find out more? Get advice from one of our HR consultants. For further support, call our telephone number 0800 028 2420.


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