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Safety for Construction Workers: Keeping Your Site Workers Secure on the Job

Safety for Construction Workers: Keeping Your Site Workers Secure on the Job
Safety for Construction Workers: Keeping Your Site Workers Secure on the Job

Construction site managers and supervisors have a duty to protect the welfare of their employees, which can be a complex task given the number of risks, heavy-duty equipment, and potentially hazardous tools in use within any development site. So what security measures should you put in place to keep your site workers safe? 

The starting point is to take a proactive approach to construction site worker safety, assessing the environment, risks, hazards and training delivered, and identifying where further work is required to mitigate risks to an acceptable level. You can read more about our construction site risk assessments here.

While numerous pieces of legislation compel construction site managers to adhere to health and safety standards, all organisations within the sector should be conscious of best practice standards and how regulations may vary depending on the skill level of on-site workers, the phase of the development, and the types of equipment in use.

 

construction site security services for a housing developmentWhat does the law say about construction worker safety?

Construction site workers are protected by a number of UK laws and regulations in the UK aimed at ensuring their safety. Here are the key laws to take note of:

  1. Health and Safety at Work Act 1974: This is the primary piece of legislation governing health and safety in the workplace in the UK. It places a duty on employers to ensure the health, safety, and welfare of their employees, including those working on construction sites.
  2. Construction (Design and Management) Regulations 2015 (CDM Regulations): These regulations aim to improve health and safety in the construction industry by placing duties on clients, designers, and contractors throughout the project lifecycle. They require proper planning, coordination, and management of health and safety risks.
  3. Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations 1999: These regulations require employers to assess and manage risks to their employees’ health and safety, including those working on construction sites. This includes providing adequate training and information, as well as implementing measures to control risks.
  4. Personal Protective Equipment at Work Regulations 1992: These regulations require employers to provide appropriate personal protective equipment (PPE) to employees where there are risks to their health and safety that cannot be adequately controlled by other means.

These are just a few examples of the laws and regulations in the UK aimed at ensuring construction site worker safety. Compliance with these regulations is essential for employers to avoid legal repercussions and, more importantly, to ensure the safety and well-being of their workers.

What solutions should construction site managers put in place?

Managers and site owners should ensure that any employee, tradesperson or contractor who sets foot on a construction site has the right to be there, is equipped with the necessary PPE and has the knowledge required to avoid preventable accidents.

That may mean:

  • Implementing access controls to verify the credentials of site visitors, workers and inspectors and tracking footfall to avoid congestion.
  • Issuing PPE compliant with the applicable standards, ensuring senior staff members or supervisors have the power to enforce PPE rules, or using intelligent PPE compliance monitoring to identify any issues.
  • Checking the training, certifications and qualifications of all workers, confirming that, for example, those working in a zone where electrical wiring work is underway have been trained in electrical safety or have the expertise to participate in this phase of the project.
  • Putting security controls in place where corrosive substances, tooling with sharp edges, heavy objects or potentially hazardous equipment is only assigned to responsible workers who are permitted to access storage bays or equipment stores.

Construction sites have multiple moving parts, and the risks can vary from moving heavy goods vehicles to working at height, risks of falling debris and intrusion risks, where workers could be exposed to aggression, intimidation or even violence if an intruder were to gain access and attempt to steal materials or tooling.

Issuing body worn cameras or helmet cameras can be an excellent solution, where supervisors off-site can see precisely what is happening, monitor work processes and safe working policy adherence, and react swiftly if anything untoward or dangerous is detected.

clearway body worn security cameras

Issuing PPE for Construction Site Workers

PPE is mandatory in almost every construction setting, where workers will usually need to wear hard hats, high visibility vests, protective footwear, cut-resistant gloves and goggles to avoid dust and dirt impacting their vision.

Site managers may also need to assess the air quality during activities that generate excessive dust, particularly silica dust, which is linked to several severe health conditions. Masks and ventilation devices may be used during:

  • Cutting and drilling brickwork
  • Grinding tiles
  • Blasting concrete or mortar

In other situations, noise protection PPE may be necessary to protect workers from prolonged exposure to excessive noise. Where that originates from the use of drilling equipment, workers may also need suspension systems that assist with grip when handling tools that may contribute to hand-arm vibration syndrome.

Tools such as grinders and hammer drills vibrate at high speeds, so managers can issue protective equipment while monitoring work sites to ensure contractors take the appropriate breaks or follow rostering plans that prevent any individual from using the same equipment for an extended period.

PPE detection for construction

The Importance of PPE Compliance Monitoring

One of the many challenges for construction site managers is that they may be physically unable to monitor the entirety of a large-scale site continuously and rely on their workforce, including subcontractors and other authorised site visitors, to adhere to the PPE policies in place.

That could mean, for example, that all delivery drivers must wear a hard hat and protective footwear to be permitted to leave their vehicle or that every inspector and visitor is issued a lanyard, hard hat and high-visibility vest that indicates they are a visitor.

Managers and supervisors also need to put additional protection in place if any worker is a trainee, apprentice or junior employee. The best solution is often to designate responsibility for enforcing safe working practices to a trusted senior supervisor.

In every instance, PPE compliance monitoring is an excellent way to ensure all on-site workers are aware that non-compliance will be identified, logged and addressed. These intelligent monitoring solutions can be used at any scale, with defined detection zones.

Footage and alerts are transmitted remotely to the supervisor at any time a worker is found to be present on-site, not conforming to site safety policies, or not wearing the appropriate PPE. This solution can prevent near-misses and any deliberate disregard of PPE practices and mitigate countless avoidable injuries or accidents.

Protecting Construction Workers in High-Traffic Environments

Most construction sites receive regular deliveries of raw materials, components and equipment, from diggers to RSJs, excavators to bulldozers and large quantities of brick, stone, timber, girders and scaffolding.

Putting vehicle management systems in place can protect construction workers from any exposure to collisions, often setting aside separate through-routes and pedestrian zones and ensuring vehicles cannot enter into a zone where individuals are working.

Concrete barrier blocks are a widely used solution, which ensures that even the largest HGV cannot access a pedestrian-only zone. They are also used to safeguard workers on construction sites adjacent to roads and busy carriageways and as material storage bays.

concrete barrier blocks from Clearway

Setting up traffic routes to and from construction site entrance points and to and from offloading areas is a good way to segregate live working zones from moving vehicles. Barriers can also be used to construct a temporary turning circle, with supervisors advised to manage delivery schedules to avoid multiple HGVs from attempting to access the site simultaneously.

For more information about protecting construction workers from risk, implementing PPE compliance tracking, or using body-worn cameras and traffic management systems, please contact Clearway’s construction experts at your convenience.

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