Thousands of workers are severely injured every year in the construction industry, widely regarded as the most dangerous in the UK, but the Health and Safety Executive has recently launched a drive to improve standards.
MAKING A DIFFERENCE
During 2011 and 2012, 49 workers were killed while working in the construction industry and 2,884 major injuries reported. The injuries, say the Health and Safety Executive, are largely from avoidable incidents caused by poor risk management.
In many cases, say the Health and Safety Executive, simple changes to working practices can make all the difference and save lives. If the HSE find evidence that workers are being unnecessarily put at risk they threaten to take strong action..
The Site Supervisors Safety Training Scheme or sssts training is an introduction to health and safety on construction sites. Site supervisors and managers are equally as legally and morally responsible for the workers on site as the company owners and can be prosecuted alongside them if health and safety standards are lax.
The course is designed to equip supervisors and managers with the ability to deal with health and safety and reinforcing the importance of risk assessments and implementing control measures on construction sites. Communication is one of the things the course looks at that plays a major part in improving and implementing health and safety regulations on site.
It’s vital to be able to discuss risks as well as communicate the policies, procedures and safe working methods to workers employed on the site so that they understand and apply them while working.
The sssts course also looks at Health and Safety Acts and HSE regulations and Approved Codes of Practice and gives an introduction to the legal system regarding health and safety. There is also the opportunity to learn about the kind of accidents common to the construction industry and how to implement a risk assessment suitable to the kind of construction job undertaken.
There are a variety of risks on a construction site, slips, trips and falls that need to be assessed, eliminated and controlled. There are dangers in working at a height and using towers, scaffolds, platforms and ladders and danger of structural collapse during alterations or demolitions.
Construction workers also work regularly with electricity whether it is electrical equipment and power supplies or the overhead power lines and underground cables. Identifying the risk of fire and controlling combustible materials and ignition sources on site is equally as important and the workers must be made aware of the procedure to follow if fire does break out.
The importance of following good health and safety practice on site reaps benefits too. By protecting employees, there is a reduction in absences and sick leave and they are less likely to leave. Not only will it also reduce insurance premiums and legal costs, it will also boost productivity, profits and the company reputation.
At the end of a sssts course, the supervisor or manager should have an understanding of the duties and expectations of their contribution to the safety in the workplace and how their supervisory role fits in with the management structure in controlling a site safely.
Philip Darcey works in sssts training. He writes regularly on health and safety issues in the workplace for a number of blogs and websites.