How Safe Is Your Construction Company To Work For?
Prioritising health and safety at all times is a must for any company working within the construction sector, as this is one of the most dangerous industries in the UK. As such, it’s essential that all staff members, from the top of the business to the bottom, know what their individual responsibilities are where health risks and preventing them are concerned.
But it seems that this is not always the case, with new research from SafetyDesk and reported on by HR News revealing that 67 per cent of construction firms in the UK believe that they would fail a formal site inspection carried out by the Health and Safety Executive, or just about scrape through, because of poor practice in maintaining accurate and up-to-date compliance data in this area.
The study – Reducing Risk in Construction – found that 36 per cent of companies are keeping inaccurate records of health and safety compliance matters, with 17 per cent even now recording and filing data by hand. And some 38 per cent say they don’t have access to internal reports that remind staff members about which certificates and documents are either expired or due for renewal.
Partner at Gardner Leader solicitors and health and safety expert Michelle Di Gioia commented on the findings, saying: “Health and safety fines are increasing and the HSE charges for its time in identifying and investigating breaches.
“With easily accessible, well maintained data management systems companies can quickly provide valuable evidence in the event of an incident, cutting down this investigation time, and most importantly be confident that they’re always compliant.”
Lucien Wynn, chief operating officer at Olive Communications (Safetybank’s parent company), made further comments, saying that firms are accountable for the health and safety of all workers and subcontractors, often across multiple site projects.
And companies are now calling for digitisation and centralisation of health and safety processes so that documents can be easily and securely created, shared and downloaded, which will drive down the costs of audit reports.
How to improve your company’s safety culture
It will take time to implement a company culture that has health and safety at its heart but this should always be one of the biggest priorities for any firm in the construction industry. Here are just a couple of ways you can start making improvements where health and safety is concerned right now.
Focus on staff training
It may be that you need to send your employees on courses like the level 1 construction for CSCS card training course to help ensure that you’re meeting all your goals with regards to health and safety. This is, in fact, one of the easiest ways of making positive improvements to your company’s safety culture.
Bear in mind, however, that training should never be a one-off and is something that should always be ongoing, as advancements in the sector are made and the way it operates evolves. Ongoing training will also help staff members retain what they’ve been taught, as well as ensuring that safety is at the forefront of everyone’s minds all the time.
Have appropriate workplace facilities
All employers have a duty to provide a working environment that is healthy and safe for everyone, including people with disabilities. The workplace must be clean and at a reasonable working temperature, with suitable lighting, good ventilation and appropriate space and seating.
To ensure the workplace is safe, companies must maintain the premises and work equipment, ensure that transparent doors and walls are made of safety material or are protected, keep traffic routes and floors free from obstructions and have windows that can be opened and cleaned safely.
Report accidents and illnesses
By law, certain workplace injuries have to be reported to the HSe under the Reporting of Injuries, Diseases and Dangerous Occurrences Regulations (known as RIDDOR).
If you have over ten employees, you have to keep an accident book, records that will help you identify patterns of accidents and injuries so you’re better able to assess and manage the risks in your particular workplace.
The majority of incidents will need to be reported, including dangerous occurrences, non-fatal accidents that require hospital treatment to non-workers, accidents that lead to specific injuries among workers and accidents resulting in the death of any individual.
Key health and safety stats for Great Britain
Figures from the Health and Safety Executive show that for 2018/2019, there were 28.2 million working days lost as a result of work-related illness and injury. The estimated cost of injuries and ill health from working conditions around the country was £15 billion.
Some 1.4 million people suffered from a work-related illness over the year, with 147 people killed at work and 581,000 people suffering an injury at work. There were also 2,526 mesothelioma deaths as a result of past exposure to asbestos.
Where fatal accidents are concerned, the main kinds were falls from height, followed by being struck by a moving vehicle, being struck by a moving object, coming into contact with moving machinery and being trapped by something either collapsing or overturning.
The industries where accidents of this kind are most likely to occur were found to be construction, agriculture, forestry and fishing, and manufacturing.
Good practice where health and safety is concerned makes good sense from a business perspective, as you’ll be able to reduce absence and sick leave, retain staff more effectively, support the reputation of your organisation, boost both productivity and profits, reduce insurance premiums and protect staff members from the suffering caused by ill health and accidents.