Health and Safety in the construction industry is governed by the Construction (Design and Management) Regulations 2015 (CDM 2015) which came into force in the UK on April 2015.
These regulations set out what construction companies (and their workers) need to do to ensure their safety.
Like all jobs there are a number of hazards associated with working on a construction site.
H&E statistics have shown that construction workers have a high risk of developing diseases from a number of health issues.
- Cancer. The construction industry has the highest reported incidence of occupational cancer amongst the industrial sectors. It accounts for over 40% of all occupational cancer deaths and cancer registrations. It’s estimated that exposure to things like asbestos, silica and diesel engine exhaust annually cause over 5,000 occupational cancer cases and approximately 3,700 deaths.
- Hazardous substances. On construction sites, chemicals and dust along with processes that emit dust, fumes, vapour or gases can be the cause of breathing problems and lung diseases. Some construction occupations also have high rates of dermatitis from skin exposure to hazardous substances. Most construction workers will come in contact with construction dust, cement, solvents, lead and isocyanates from paints, coatings, foams and glues throughout their career.
- Physical health risks. Construction work involves physical health hazards including back injuries and upper limb disorders. Ill health caused by noise is also common. Many construction workers will suffer from deafness, ringing in their ears and other illness as a result of excessive exposure to noise. Construction workers using vibrating hand-held power tools or machinery may suffer from a range of conditions, including vibration white finger and hand-arm vibration syndrome if not properly risk assessed and controlled for.
As with all risks part of the process in dealing with them is to carry out a health and safety risk assessment which allows you to identify, evaluate and put in place appropriate precautions in the workplace. The H&S Executive provides helpful guidance on this. We have also written a number of articles on How To Carry Out A Risk Assessment and How To Write Your Company’s Health And Safety Policy.
Tailored advice to show different people in the construction industry what they need to do to meet their legal responsibilities is also available on the H&S Executive site.
Ensuring that all staff working on site have the appropriate health and safety training in manual handling and in the handling of hazardous chemicals can also play a large role in ensuring that correct working procedures are an everyday practice and that worker health and safety is utmost in everyone’s minds.
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