There are hazards associated with many workplaces but a building site is one of the most likely to be the scene of an accident at work. There are many dangers on a construction site, especially a large one, and in this article we set out some of the most common accidents that can occur on a building site.
- Falls from a height
Almost inevitably, working on a building site will entail working at height from time to time. Depending on the height of the fall, this type of accident can cause the most severe injuries or even fatality. For this reason, the Health and Safety Executive has issued guidance to site managers and workers as to how to avoid the risk of a fall from height. This includes avoiding working at height if possible, assessing the risks associated with working at height and taking steps to remove or reduce the risk through the provision of protective procedures, plant and equipment.
- Lifting Injuries
Working on a building site often involves having to move heavy plant, machinery and equipment. This can result in back injuries and muscle and skeletal strains. Employers are under a duty to protect their employees from the risks associated with lifting or carrying heavy loads. Employees should not be required to manually lift loads that are unsafe. Lifting or carrying equipment such as cranes or fork lift trucks should be provided and employers should ensure that the workforce is provided with adequate instruction on safe lifting techniques.
- Slips, trips and falls
Injuries that are caused by slips, trips and falls are all too common an occurrence on a building site. Perhaps this is unsurprising in view of the nature of this particular workplace. A worker on a building site is likely to encounter uneven ground, ditches, wet and slippery floors, various obstructions, including piles of rubble and other construction materials, cables and plant. These hazards account for a variety of building site injuries, which, once again, employers and site managers are under a duty to take reasonable steps to avoid. Walkways should be kept free from obstruction, debris should be cleared and any spillages attended to. Where obstructions or other hazards cannot be removed, appropriate warning signs should be put in place.
- Falling Objects
Working at height does not involve a risk solely to the workers who are at height. It also represents a hazard to those working below if steps are not taken to guard against falling objects. Objects should not be left on scaffolding or other platforms and skirting should be put in place to reduce the chance of anything falling. All workers should be provided with protective equipment, including headgear to minimise the potential damage from being struck by an object falling from above.
Working with machinery is always hazardous and this applies equally to the plant and machinery on a building site. Working around cement mixers, compressors, cranes, and powerful drills, hammers and other machinery all carry risks if the employee is not given training in their use or the equipment is defective in some way.
Employers have a duty to take reasonable steps to protect their workers from the risk of an accident. If a worker on building site sustains a personal injury because the employer has failed in that duty, it is likely that a claim for compensation for the injury will be successful.