Health and Safety on Site keeps Workers Safe

Construction sites are potentially one of the most dangerous of all workplaces.  From moving vehicles and machinery to working at height, manual handling to dust and noise health risks, these inherent hazards are why the industry must develop health and safety processes that are ingrained in us all. As a consequence, a worker’s safety is paramount but what needs to be done to ensure sites are safe and have health and safety measures in place? 

Working at height is the biggest danger for construction workers. In this high-risk area of work, people should always be asking ‘do I need to do it?’ If the answer is ‘yes’ then ‘can I do it more safely?’  Do I need to use a MEWP (mobile elevated working platform), a tower or a podium?  At the bottom of the hierarchy of controls is a pair of steps. While a pair of steps will be quicker to move around for an operative on site, it’s a much greater risk than a set of podiums which are safer and can be moved around just as easily. 

The industry is split into two separate camps, with the workers who have been around for a long time and have always done it a certain way and the workers who joined the industry at a young age where health and safety has been ingrained into them from the day they started as an apprentice. 

At Pexhurst, we are zero tolerance when it comes to using equipment incorrectly.  Toolbox talks and education is key, while on site it’s about ensuring that everybody checks on everyone else. The other challenge is ensuring people report near misses, as this will lower the chances of a serious injury occurring.

For the past two years during Covid, we have looked at our processes and how we can do things differently on Pexhurst projects, particularly when it comes to close working practices. We don’t want people to work on top of each other. While it relies on programmes and critical dates, it makes people look at how they can do things differently. One area of focus is the handling of materials. Dryliners have moved on from manual handling to board lifts while powered access can offer safe working at height and has replaced traditional scaffolds or access towers. 

New technologies

Drone roof surveys and inspections take away another element of the working at height risk. There is now no requirement for edge protection or having to use a cherry picker where you may only be able to access 60-70% of a roof. A drone will offer high-definition close-ups of all areas of a roof without risk to the operative.

Wearable technology is also transforming safety standards on site and allows users to monitor how much they are using a hand tool, for example. This avoids the risk of musculoskeletal injuries due to overuse when doing strenuous tasks. Geofencing is another technology that enables the subdividing of certain sites, so operatives are prohibited from entering or exiting specific dangerous areas.

A Precautionary Approach

On Pexhurst projects, health and safety starts when an order is placed with our supply chain of subcontractors. Our online health and safety platforms will flag up any areas where a subcontractor doesn’t have the required training or competency and will prevent the order being placed until these are resolved. There is also a simple single page checklist evaluating the RAMS and asking basic questions which if answered ‘no’ means work simply doesn’t start. It makes it as easy as possible and ensures a site manager doesn’t need to chase important health and safety information at the eleventh hour.

Site Proud Award

The Pexhurst Site Proud Award is a new initiative led by Associate Director Alan Bridge concentrating on maintaining high standards and pride across all of our projects. It is essentially a quality assurance initiative, where each month Alan assesses all live sites against a number of different factors with quality and site experience being at the heart of it – it ensures we are a safe pair of hands for our clients. Congratulations to our Site Proud winners so far!

When it comes to the health and safety of workers on site, nothing is more important than ensuring everyone returns home safely each and every day. A health and safety culture should become second nature for a workforce, and will ultimately result in a happier and more productive one in the long term.

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