Construction Site Safety
The construction industry accounts for over 1.15 million jobs – over 9% of total Australian employment. Due to the nature of the work, it’s one of Australia's most dangerous job roles.
What are the main types of hazards in construction?
In 2019, Safe Work Australia reported the deaths of 26 construction workers, with 14,280 others suffering work-related ill health. Construction workers are exposed to a range of hazards that can increase their risk of injury or death. Risks to construction staff include falls from height, machinery malfunctions, electrocution, falling objects, and structural collapses – to name a few.
To keep your construction site safe, read our guide to lone working.
As an employer, it may be tempting to cut corners to save money; but over AUS$28 billion is lost annually due to workplace related injuries, it’s in everybody’s best interest to prioritise construction site safety.
What are the main causes of death and injury on construction sites?
How do you improve health and safety in construction sites?
There are several ways to improve health and safety in your workplace, and it doesn’t have to cost an arm and a leg. We’ve put together 7 essential questions which need to be asked to make sure construction workers are safe at work.
1. Do your employees wear the correct protective gear?
Wearing the correct personal protective equipment (PPE) could mean the difference between a minor injury and a long-term injury or even a fatality.
It’s important to provide your employees with the appropriate PPE relative to the type of work being carried out. This can include helmets, ear protection, safety goggles, knee pads and hi-vis jackets. If they become worn or unfit for purpose, they need to be replaced immediately. Make sure they wear them, too!
2. Is scaffolding correctly constructed and maintained?
When erecting scaffolding, there should be no shortcuts or improvisations. It should be built on stable ground with solid footing to eradicate the risk of it collapsing. Be sure to maintain and repair any damage or inconsistencies of the structure, as well as ensuring that all employees using the scaffolding have an adequate level of scaffolding safety training; falls from height account for 11% of construction worker injuries.
3. Do all employees have the right Health & safety training?
Construction workers operating in high and medium risk environments are required to have sufficient construction health and safety training. They should be fully competent and aware of the risks associated with their actions, especially when working at height, with machinery or in confined spaces. It is also advised that they have an appropriate awareness of first aid and can administer basic life-saving techniques if necessary.
Download our free guide to lone worker safety to find out more about protecting your staff
4. Are all signs on your site displayed clearly?
Construction sites are full of potential dangers, not just for workers but for the public too. It’s important to highlight any hazards with signs and posters, warning everyone nearby to take precautions. Signs are a cost-effective way of reducing accidents, which could indicate dangers such as falling objects, turning large vehicles or presence of gas/chemicals.
5. Are your employees making the right use of technology?
In today’s technological world, 9 in 10 adults in Australia own a smartphone.
A lone worker safety device is a discreet tool, which allows for employers to locate employees quickly and easily in an emergency and send immediate help. The StaySafe app offers life-saving features including a panic button, check-in, low signal mode and low battery reminders.
The StaySafe app gives employers visibility of the location and safety status of lone workers during a period of lone work or travel and allows them to check-in safely once they have finished this session.
If an employee fails to check-in safely during a session or raises a panic alert in the app, monitoring agents, either within the organisation or at an external monitoring service, will be immediately alerted. They will quickly verify the alert and dispatch the appropriate assistance to the employee.
The app also features a man down alarm that will send an alert through the hub if a lone worker has not moved for a prolonged period of time and may have had an accident and be unable to call for help. Lone working devices are an excellent way to enhance construction site safety and protect staff that may be working in potentially high-risk sites.
6. Do you make sure tools and equipment are inspected regularly?
Construction workers rely on their tools to work efficiently and get jobs done. If their tools are unsafe or broken, there are higher risks of serious accidents including the loss of limbs. Around 21% of workers in the construction sector suffered from an injury in 2017/18 – statistically this is significantly higher than the all-industry injury rate.
Equipment should regularly be inspected to ensure there are no equipment malfunctions or defects. It is both the responsibility of the worker and the employer to highlight issues with defective equipment.
7. Does everyone on your construction site communicate clearly?
Communication is a major factor in keeping employees safe. Staff should communicate with each other and with any alternative party if they identify potential risks. Those working onsite should be aware of existing potential hazards but also have a conscious awareness of other dangers.
Employers should check-in with lone workers and keep in touch. Make sure staff clearly understand any systems and procedures used which can include:
– when supervisors should visit and observe lone workers
– knowing where lone workers are, with pre-agreed intervals of regular contact, using phones, radios, email etc
– other devices for raising the alarm, operated manually or automatically
– a reliable system to ensure a lone worker has returned to their base once they have completed their task
All systems and emergency procedures should be regularly tested to ensure lone workers can be contacted if a problem or emergency is identified.
How do you manage health and safety hazards in the construction industry?
Ensuring safe practices not only protects employees on site, but also facilitates reliable construction processes and successful project completion. Make the following questions part of your regular project planning to manage health and safety hazards on your construction site. For more construction health and safety tips, read our top tips blog.
What are construction workers’ responsibilities for health and safety?
WorkSafe regulations state that workers must:
– take reasonable care for your health and safety in the workplace
– take reasonable care for the health and safety of others who may be affected by what you do or don’t do
– follow any reasonable health and safety instructions from your employer. For example, use equipment properly, follow safe work policies and procedures and attend training
– ask for help if you are not sure how to safely perform your work
– follow instructions and work safely
– report hazards, unsafe situations, and injuries to your employer
What are the legal responsibilities for safety on construction sites?
Construction site supervisors or managers have the moral and legal responsibility to monitor the safety of their workforce. They are responsible for ensuring that all jobs are correctly planned and monitored and that everything possible is done to ensure that no one is hurt on the job. Legal responsibilities include:
– thorough risk assessments
– working practice guidelines for work undertaken such as working from height guidelines
– the correct tools, safety gear, and training to complete the job
– undertaking CITB Site Supervisor Safety Training
How do you manage construction site safety?
Employees should be regularly asked about what they think could make their job safer and have the opportunity to report any accidents or near-misses. Staff do not always feel comfortable reporting an accident at work – so it is important that you create a positive safety culture in your workplace. To ensure that you comply with health and safety legislation, you should also ensure that you have completed thorough risk assessments for all your places of work.
Download our free risk assessment guide and template
As part of your risk assessment, you may find you need to provide a better way for your construction workers to communicate with you and be located quickly in an emergency.
How can technology help construction site safety?
Technology is the simplest way to ensure construction worker safety, with options including a mobile app, integrated wearable tech, and satellite tracking, the StaySafe Lone Worker app is trusted by construction companies worldwide to keep their employees safe.
Site safety is easily monitored through the lone worker hub, provides you with real-time updates on the safety status of your lone workers. Construction workers can easily raise distress signals using the mobile app on their phones, and the app can also be paired with a range of discrete panic alarms which can also be worn or carried by staff.
The app also provides 16% more signal coverage than any other app via our low signal mode, which comes as standard for all app users. When low signal mode is active, the app only needs a 2G connection to maintain communications with the monitoring hub. In addition, missed check-in alerts still signal in the Hub even if the employee has lost signal coverage completely.
Monitoring and escalation of alerts can be done in-house by the trust or at a team level, or outsourced to our 24/7 professional monitoring partners. Ensuring a smooth roll out and high usage levels of the app is also taken care of by our dedicated Customer Success Team.
The StaySafe app and cloud-based monitoring hub is used by hundreds of clients and tens of thousands of users worldwide who testify to its ease of use, reliability, and flexibility.
Find out more about why companies including Kier and Ericsson choose the StaySafe app to keep their staff safe
I have been doing some reading about scaffolding, and I’ve heard that it’s important to inspect your scaffolding each day. In addition to providing adequate safety training like you mention, I think that would be the best way to ensure safety on the job. I’m sure employees would have a better attitude if they know that you take their safety seriously.
I imagine that the equipment should be checked every week, if not every day. If a safety harness or something were to break, someone could get seriously hurt. It is best to make sure that everything is in working order before doing anything too dangerous.
I drove past a construction zone today and saw some workers on some scaffolding. It made me curious about how they keep themselves safe while working on it. I’m glad that they have protective gear that include helmets, ear protection, knee pads and more! Thank you for all the information!
I really liked the advice that all employees should have a safe outlet to report any accidents or injuries while on the job. I don’t work around heavy machinery, but I have always been paranoid about safety ever since I fell off of a ladder as a kid. Do you have any tips for staying safe around construction equipment that could translate to staying safe in the home?
It’s good to learn about safety in the construction workplace. I like how you said that the workers themselves need to be trained in health and safety. I feel like that’s really the most important step; as long as the workers know how to stay safe, they should be safe!
First things we need to keep in mind regarding workers safety in the construction industry is to keep checking the machinery and heavy equipment on regular basis.
I really appreciate your tip on how most construction sites will highlight any dangerous machinery with signs and posters to stop anyone from getting hurt. My daughter told me that she has a field trip to a construction site coming up soon for one of her engineering classes. I will be sure to suggest to her that she should keep an eye out for any signs and posters telling her to steer clear of dangerous machinery!
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The most effective way on a construction company is to make your employees wear protective gear. This is a must since the most priority of every company is its personnel safety.
I love your tip about how broken tools are dangerous. That makes sense considering heavy-duty metal can crush people. It would be important for people to bring safety consultants to the site.
Thanks for reading our post! Glad you liked it.
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a good read. Thanks for sharing!
Glad you liked the post. You can find similar posts on our news and insights section.
You make a good point that people that aren’t construction workers can be injured by construction sites as well as the workers. My husband just started a construction business but has been working on building u his networking. I bet this could help him nail down the safety aspect while he also works on finding people to work with.
Thank you for the advice to use technology. My boss wants to start a new project, but we want to ensure it’s as safe as possible before we begin. We’ll have to look into professional safety consulting.
Glad to hear this, ensuring staff safety should always be a priority 🙂