What is a risk assessment in construction?

Clearway
What is a risk assessment in construction?
What is a risk assessment in construction?

Construction risk assessments are all about identifying potential workplace hazards, assigning responsibility, and assessing the correct steps to mitigate or remove those risks.

Building sites have a unique set of potential hazards.

A comprehensive risk assessment is crucial, ensuring the workforce can go about their daily tasks without any undue exposure to injury or accident.

Here Clearway explains the steps to building a formal construction risk assessment, with examples to help you create a thorough process to keep your construction site safe.

Risk Mitigation: The Purpose of a Construction Site Risk Assessment

While these assessments are required in many sectors, it’s important to remember that it’s about much more than a box-ticking exercise.

There are four parts to risk assessment:

  1. Identifying the hazards
  2. Evaluating the associated risk level
  3. Controlling or removing the risk
  4. Reassessing the risk level

By thinking about what might happen, the likelihood of an incident, and how to effectively manage each risk, you begin to create a safety-aware strategy.

This approach benefits everybody on-site, including delivery drivers, members of the public, passing pedestrians and construction workers.

construction site risk assessment

The Step-by-Step Guide to Construction Risk Assessment

To make it as straightforward as possible, we’ll run through each stage of the process, explaining some of the potential measures available to reduce your overall risk rating.

Note that insurers, clients, inspectors and surveyors may wish to see your risk assessment and the suitable safeguards in place.

Risk assessments are a legal responsibility, so a site manager should complete the process, with the authority to make changes to fundamental procedures where the risk level is unacceptably high.

Another option is to contact Clearway to arrange a FREE Construction Site Security Health Check, with guidance from skilled construction specialists.

1. Identifying Risk Assessment Hazards on a Construction Site

Phase one is to work through every element of your construction site methodically, including a physical site inspection.

For example:

  • The risk of heavy moving vehicles and equipment near to pedestrians.
  • Threats of criminal intrusions and thefts.
  • Dangers associated with uneven ground, non-secured perimeters and the arising hazards to members of the public.
  • Security requirements around live electricity, cabling and underground pipework.
  • Risks of falls from height if working with scaffolding or overhead platforms.
  • Hazards of severe weather conditions, causing flooding, power outages, or high winds that make temporary structures unstable.

You need to include anybody who might visit or be present on the site at any time.

2. Assessing the Severity of a Construction Site Risk 

The next stage is to assign a risk rating to each of the possible hazards you have identified.

That means considering the skill and experience of your workers and site visitors, how likely an incident is to happen, and how serious the consequences could be.

A fall from height is unlikely if your teams have up-to-date training in working at heights, and it may not be probable that you encounter extreme storms – but if an accident did occur it could be extremely dangerous.

Conversely, a trip hazard on uneven ground isn’t likely to result in a terrible physical injury but is far more likely on a construction site.

If you’re conducting an assessment independently, it’s essential to explain how you have calculated and assigned each risk ranking.

3. Taking Action to Resolve Construction Site Risk Assessment High Threats

Your following step is to consider all those higher risk hazards and make decisions about minimising risk or removing the danger altogether.

Taking a few of the examples above:

  • Concrete barrier blocks can protect pedestrians, prevent unauthorised vehicular access, construct temporary delineated parking bays and defend workers from adjacent roadways.
  • Building site security can verify each visitor’s credentials to ensure anybody without appropriate training or permissions cannot enter the site – intentionally or accidentally.
  • CCTV towers can monitor broad construction site areas, identifying immediately if there is a hazard present or an attempted break-in or criminal intrusion.
  • Video verified alarms alert site managers if a sensor is triggered, recording a burst of live footage. If, for example, there is an attempted theft in an unstable structure, the responsible person can deploy a security team to prevent any site damage and ensure the intruder does not come to harm.

A further way to step up your risk mitigation measures is to use a 24/7 Alarm Receiving Centre.

Clearway provides alarm system monitoring year-round, day and night, using powerful infrared cameras to keep a close watch on construction site entrances and exits, raising the alarm when anything happens that may be of concern.

4. Revisiting a Construction Risk Assessment to Recalculate Hazard Levels

Finally, once you have taken action and put decisive strategies in place to mitigate those heaviest threats, you’ll need to check whether your risk assessment now falls into acceptable parameters.

If the risk level is still too high, you may need to take further steps before construction work can proceed.

What is a Risk Assessment in Construction – and Why is it So Critical?

We’ve covered a summary of the risk assessment process here, but it remains necessary to seek professional guidance if you are in any doubt.

Construction site hazards are complex and can be split into:

  • Occupational risks – equipment, layouts, or work that causes a risk of injury.
  • Project risks – issues that could impact your ability to complete the project successfully and on time.
  • Contractual risks – problems arising with missed deadlines and maintaining a positive contractual relationship with clients and partner organisations.
  • Financial risks – issues whereby the construction works may run over budget.
  • Natural risks – things like weather and environmental factors that could affect your ability to continue working.

A comprehensive, thorough risk assessment will consider all of these factors, creating failsafe actions and mitigating steps to ensure the construction site is a safe place to work and will ultimately be a profitable project.

For more information about construction site risk assessment or recommendations on controlling your highest risks, please contact the Clearway team for further guidance. We secure, monitor and protect.

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