The construction sector is known as one of the most hazardous environments to work in. There are so many factors needed to protect construction workers.
Nevertheless, health & safety must be held to the highest level. Here, you need to comply with construction laws and safety plans. Without proper compliance, you could risk causing anything, from mental injuries to near-death.
In this guide, we’ll look at what a construction risk assessment is, who holds overall responsibility, and how to manage these safety reports.
What is a construction risk assessment?
A construction risk assessment is a documented evaluation used to manage hazards on a construction site.
The assessments examine health & safety hazards which might affect both employees and non-employees. They also outline compliance with numerous legal regulations which revolve around working in the construction realm.
You must legally have this risk assessment in place if you hire five or more people. By following the assessment, you can actively protect the welfare of everyone within your premises.
UK laws on construction site risk assessments
Before you start work on construction sites, you need to prioritise health & safety. Because of the type of labour involved, workers suffer a higher level of injuries compared to conventional workplaces.
Here are some laws which all construction risk assessments need to consider:
- Construction (Design and Management) Regulations 2015.
- Control of Substances Hazardous to Health Regulations (COSHH) 2002.
- Health and Safety (Consultation with Employees) Regulations 1996.
- Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974.
- Lifting Operations and Lifting Equipment Regulations (LOLER) 1998.
- Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations 1999.
- Provision and Use of Work Equipment Regulations (PUWER) 1998.
- Work at Height Regulations 2005.
All employers hold legal responsibility for all health & safety risk assessments in the construction sector. They need to ensure the correct practice and process are actioned.
If you don’t enable this, employees are at risk of causing and suffering from injuries. But it’s not just staff who are at risk, your business will suffer too. Workers will lose out on labour hours and wages. In turn, the business will suffer from loss of production, turnover, and revenue.
In some cases, workers may suffer from permanent damages, where they’re unable to work again. They could decide to raise grievance claims to an employment tribunal. Here, you could face detrimental consequences, like paying compensation, business closure, and in extreme cases, imprisonment.
Common accidents and injuries in construction
There are several accidents and injuries workers may face on a construction site. These include:
Slips, trips, and falls.
The most common cause of injuries normally includes slips, trips, and falls. These types of incidents can be minor, with very little recovery time needed. But for more serious ones, it can leave an employee permanently injured.
You need proper control measures which ensure people are protected through:
- Training workers on following correct construction procedures. For example, working at heights, following proper manual handling, or using the correct length of a ladder.
- Encouraging workers to wear personal protective equipment (PPE). For example, wearing hard hats and safety harnesses.
- Correct usage for all types of construction equipment. For example, following machinery guidance; from switching it on to storing it after use.
Struck by objects
Being struck by objects can lead to a high level of serious injuries, which sometimes can be fatal. These types of accidents are normally recorded when employees are accidentally hit by debris or moving equipment parts.
You need to ensure every employee is aware of how to avoid being struck by objects during work by:
- Wearing proper PPE like safety glasses and steel-toe boots.
- Following procedures on how to react to falling debris and wreckage.
- Managing construction site equipment which have mobile parts.
When it comes to construction health risks, one of the most dangerous occurrences involve electrical hazards. These accidents are caused by faulty wires, unsafe outlets, and improper use of extension cords.
Make sure all employees understand how to reduce electrical hazards through:
- Wearing appropriate PPE, like insulated gloves and safety goggles.
- Following safety procedures when working with power lines.
- Adhering to proper training methods for electrical safety.
Different types of construction risk assessments
When it comes to risk assessments, there are so many to consider in the construction sector. You could choose to apply relevant forms, or as many as you think are suitable. Here are a few examples of risk assessments to use:
A preliminary assessment is seen as an informal review which estimates an outcome. The assessment outlines whether a certain risk requires a full review.
A qualitative assessment involves carrying out standard workplace risks. The review is subjective to the assessor, as they’ll make informed decisions for things like processes and equipment.
A semi-qualitative assessment is more rigorous than the previous. These assessments are used for practices which require specialist techniques and knowledge.
A quantitative assessment is used for large, hazardous tasks which need objective reviewing. These assessments go through historical data, as complicated and high-risk practices are normally involved.
The assessments need to remain objective. However, with the use of historical data and construction models, they can easily become influenced subjectively.
Who is responsible for a construction risk assessment?
Employers have overall responsibility for everything that happens in their workplace. But on a construction site, this responsibility might include other people too.
You might hire a construction foreman, site managers, or several supervisors who hold responsibility for everyday work on the site. They must be trained in enforcing health & safety methods, protecting employee welfare, and complying with strict legal requirements.
If a construction project is notifiable under the Construction (Design and Management) Regulations 2015 (CDM), they will inform the Health and Safety Executive (HSE).
HSE are a governing body who are responsible for enforcing workplace health, safety and welfare. These professional bodies must be notified about all construction site work 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 calendar days.
Using method statements
If you are planning on making structural modifications that are part of a construction job, you need to create a method statement.
This document is created alongside the written form of your risk assessment. It outlines exactly how the project will be carried out. The method statement also demonstrates health and safety purposes, as well as control measures needed for building sites.
How to manage a construction risk assessment in the workplace
It’s hard to eliminate all potential hazards in the workplace. But do your best to minimise them during everyday work. This will lead to creating a safe and healthy working environment. And protect employees from serious injuries or life-changing accidents.
Here are steps we’ve outlined to include in your construction risk assessment:
Identify construction site risks
You should identify all potential risks at your construction site. You can find major and minor ones by:
- Keeping an accident report book.
- Considering both short and long-term hazards.
- Following manufacturers’ instructions for certain equipment and tasks.
- Complying with legal health and safety regulations.
Determine who may be at risk
The next step after you’ve identified hazards is to determine who is at risk. Think about who may be affected on a daily and long-term basis.
Think about vulnerable employees, like those who are pregnant, older, or have disabilities. Employees who don’t have English as their first language are also considered vulnerable, so consider the risks which revolve around them.
You must also consider non-employees who might be affected by safety risks. These can include clients, contractors, and the general public.
Evaluate and prioritise risks
Once you’ve determined individuals, you should evaluate and prioritise all hazards.
Rate individual risks and think about which ones need to be prioritised. This will depend on the level of danger the risk can lead to, and how severe the injuries may be.
Prevention is key in the construction industry; and one of the best ways to accomplish this is through training. Training provides employees with awareness for:
- Hazards and risks during construction work.
- Procedures for tools and equipment.
- Correct personal protective equipment and clothing.
Record your findings
Once you’ve created your strategies, you need to officially record your findings. Identify which ones need to be dealt with first or more efficiently.
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.
Review risk assessments
The last step is reviewing your construction site risk assessment. Go over all significant findings to see which practices and equipment are being used appropriately. And which hazard needs to be shared with the health authorities.
Remember, if any injury or dangerous incident occurs on the site, you must report it to HSE. Here, you may be asked to complete a RIDDOR evaluation which complies with the case and their inspection reports.
Get expert guidance on construction risk assessments with Peninsula
For your business, workers, and the public–it’s crucial to follow the right steps when it comes to 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 team offers HR documentation and contract services for all. And our 24/7 health & safety advice is available 365 days a year; with multi-lingual support and fully trained counsellors ready to help.
Want to find out more? Book a free consultation with one of our HR consultants. Call 0800 028 2420