Under UK law, workplace health and safety (WHS) is mainly the employer’s responsibility however,
everyone has an important part to play in the identification and prevention of jobsite risks. Over the2018/19 measuring period, 147 people died at work in the United Kingdom, 30 of which were in theconstruction industry. The industry as a whole has the highest average annual rate of fatality at 36 peryear, just before agriculture and manufacturing. While workplace accidents are decreasing at a steady rate, it’s clear there is a lot of room to improve. Thankfully, most if not all of these accidents are completely avoidable if WHS procedures are followed. Here will we dive into some of the main overarching management procedures and how they can contribute to safe and efficient jobsite operations.
Why worry about WHS?
Legal obligations aside, the health and wellbeing of your workers can have a huge impact on site
productivity. In 2018, there were 70,116 reported injuries at work, this figure combined with work-
related illness numbers resulted in 31.2 million working days lost across the country. If you were down
a single employee for a month, you would either work with one less person (at a productivity cost) or
spend time and money recruiting and training a replacement. Good WHS procedures ensure your
staff can work easily and safely. This boosts moral and creates a positive and productive workplace
culture. WHS is a net benefit to staff and your bottom line.
WHS needs to be woven into to every aspect of the project, even the design of the jobsite. Safe
access by both vehicles and pedestrians needs to be factored in along with clear boundaries that are
properly signed to prevent access by non-authorised personal. Particularly hazardous areas need to
be sectioned off to prevent people accidentally wandering into a dangerous situation. Correct planning
for storage must also be taken into account. Protective gear, waste, flammable materials and general
clutter all need to be stored correctly in accordance WHS procedures. The fundamental principle to
follow is mitigation, and correct planning helps to avoid accidents or injuries.
The cornerstone of WHS planning is in risk assessment. This tool helps you to identify, analyse and
mitigate risk no matter the situation. Risk assessments are vital and should be conducted before any
job is undertaken. The document should factor in all groups who could be harmed or affected and the
controls you have in place to prevent an incident. Employers are responsible for assessing risk but
the task can be delegated to a trained worker. You can find a template for a risk assessment here.
On any jobsite it is important to have the right culture around safety and one way to create this is by
open communication between all workers. Everyone should feel able to talk about potential risks or
suggest changes to current procedures to make them safer. It is also important that everyone is
aware of any major risks and the controls put in place to avoid them. Care must also be taken to
ensure any foreign workers, who may have difficulties understanding English, know the risks as well.
Good communication hierarchies must also be put in place. For safety procedures, managers need to
tell supervisors exactly what is expected of them and how they are expected to do it. This
conversation must also happen between supervisors and workers. In the event of an emergency
everyone needs to know who they report what to. Clear and efficient lines of communication are key
to maintaining a safe work environment.
Monitor and review
The best WHS procedures will change regularly due to a dedicated team of people scrutinising and
improving workplace methods. In the event of an accident, there should always be an overhaul of all
relevant policies. As the project develops, they may be new unforseen risks that impact how work is
undertaken. If no one is in charge of keeping policies up to date it will lead to accidents and injuries in
the future. It may also be the case that staff are not following the correct procedure, in which case
further training may be necessary.
Karsons have expert knowledge on the latest WHS practices, call us today to discuss how we can
help your business to remain safe and working effectively.