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The Health and Safety Executive’s sector plan for Construction

Updated: Aug 29, 2018

The construction industry in the UK employs around 2.2 million people which accounts for around 7% of the UK workforce. The construction industry’s contribution to the economy in monetary terms is around £97 billion pounds.

The flip side of those figures is the occupational health of those who work in the construction industry and this cannot be accounted for in terms of monetary value.

Some of the facts:

  • Almost 30% of all fatal injuries to workers in the five years to March 2016 where workers employed in the construction sector.

210 construction workers died in the five years to March 2016
  • In 2015/2016, 3.7% of workers in the construction industry suffer from an illness that they believe was caused or made worse by their work.

That percentage equates to over 80,000 workers
  • The majority of fatal accidents involve small construction companies and almost half of all reported injuries occur in refurbishment projects.

  • The construction industry has a significantly higher rate of occupational lung disease and musculoskeletal disorders when compared to other industries.

  • Generally, larger projects control risks better than smaller projects.

So, what does this mean for the construction industry when considering the Health and Safety Executive’s sector plan for construction?

“Construction will continue to be a priority sector

for HSE. We want to see a continuation of the

downward trends in fatal incidents, work-related

injury and ill health, which will be tackled by

achieving the following outcomes:”

  • Embedding the principles of the Construction (Design and Management) Regulations 2015 (CDM).

  • Focusing on a reduction in the cases of occupational lung disease, MSDs and work- related stress.

  • Supporting small businesses to achieve improved risk management and control.

CDM 2015

The Construction Design and Management Regulations 2015 are a legal requirement for all construction projects and the HSE have chosen to prioritise CDM 2015, the understanding of the changes made to CDM 2015 and the responsibilities of all Duty Holders.

The emphasis is on communication between all duty holders and ensuring that health and safety is a key consideration at design stage.

I will be looking at the changes to CDM2015 and the implications for duty holders in a separate blog post.

Lung disease and Musculoskeletal disorders.

Lung disease and musculoskeletal disorders will also be a key priority for the HSE. 40% all new occupational lung diseases are from within the construction industry and the construction industry only employs 7% of the UK workforce.

Dust suppression/ extraction techniques as well as improved Respiratory protective equipment including face fitting will be a priority. Silicosis and other lung diseases caused by inhaling dusts and asbestos are a serious concern and will remain so for the foreseeable future.

Workplace ergonomics and the use of tools and machinery will remain in close focus for the foreseeable future with particular attention given to hand arm vibration and the monitoring of vibration dosages.

Hand Arm Vibration Syndrome, the causes and how we can control it will feature in a future blog post.

Improved risk management control

Larger construction projects generally have a lower incident rate and control the risks better than smaller projects. The HSE will be focussing on smaller projects and the risk management control measures that Small to medium enterprises (SME’s) have in place.

The priority will be to raise awareness of responsibilities under the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974 within SME’s and their management teams to ensure that robust risk management processes are in place which will help reduce workplace incidents.

I’ll be looking at all of the topic raised in the HSE’s sector plan for construction in more detail in future blog posts. In the meantime, if you require any further assistance with any of the topics raised in this post or assistance with health and safety, please get in touch.