Why Health and Safety is so important in construction


Health and safety is an important factor in every industry across the world, but construction has one of the highest levels of safety requirements – because of the nature of the work. Whether it’s roadwork, housebuilding, refurbishments or demolition, no worker has zero risk at work – but this does not mean every day is filled with danger. Offering his advice, Andy Mason, Academy Director of the work-based training academy COSAC, providers of CSCS card training, explains why health and safety is so important for construction.

The common risks

In the day-to-day of the construction industry, workers may come across hazardous materials, heavy machinery and risky situations, like working at height, in trenches or confined spaces. Obviously, just being around these doesn’t result in injury, but they are situations which, if not taken seriously, can cause a serious risk.

Over the past few years the industry has seen a decline in the fatality rate due to advancements in training and safety equipment. Developments in wearable technology are constantly being made, which helps reduce the amount of accidents caused on site. One of the main causes of fatal injuries in construction is working at height, but fall arrest harnesses now allow workers to be anchored to scaffolding, catching them in the event of a slip or fall.

To help reduce the rate of injuries in the industry even further, The Construction (Design and Management) Regulations 2015 were introduced. This law outlines the health and safety requirements for all members on a construction site, and states that all tradespeople need the correct skills, knowledge and experience to perform their role safely before working.

Understanding the health and safety rules help decrease the chance of falling victim to the most common accidents such as being struck by a moving vehicle or object, or being trapped by something collapsing. This includes learning what PPE (Personal Protective Equipment) and tools are needed during specific jobs to ensure your safety, and the safety of others.

The prevention methods

Health and safety regulations are put in place to ensure all workers can carry out their job with little, to no harm to themselves and others. This is for the business’ benefit as well, as fewer injuries result in less downtime and expense. For both sides, prevention is better than cure, and this is why the industry has been introducing measures to ensure everyone is ‘site-safe’ before they begin working.

This includes the requirement of specific qualifications and cards, such as the CSCS Green (Labourer) Card. These qualifications and cards prove to employers that you have been trained on such things as, PPE, the common risks found on site, and how to report incidents, including injuries, correctly.

Things you need

Before stepping on a site, all tradespeople will need the following:

  • The correct CSCS card that is relevant to their role, and daily jobs. When you first start, this will most likely be the Green (Labourer) card or Red (Apprentice) card, but as you climb the ranks you will have to apply for the Blue (Skilled Worker) and Black (Manager) cards.
  • Depending on whether you’re handling machinery, you will also need a CPCS card – again, the card you apply for depends on your position and qualifications.
  • As a Site Supervisor you will need to be SSSTS (Site Supervisors Safety Training Scheme) qualified.
  • When you reach the level of project manager or site manager, you will have to take the SMSTS (Site Management Safety Training Scheme) so you can ensure the safety of your workers.
  • Managers and supervisors will also need to ensure that the appropriate level first aid training has been completed in the event that anything does happen on the job.
  • Asbestos awareness training is also increasingly required to ensure that every tradesperson is made aware of the potential hazard of Asbestos and how to properly deal with the material, and how to protect themselves from prolonged exposure.
  • For anyone in an electrotechnical role, an ECS card is also required.

If you are thinking of going into a career in construction, find out more on the courses available at Barnsley College.

Last updated: 17th July 2019