Working in the construction industry is one of the most dangerous occupations in the world. Occupational fatalities are the highest in this industry, with falls from height accounting for most of the fatal and non-fatal injuries. Because of these occupational health hazards, health and safety rules and policies have to be tightly controlled in this industry. Compliance with HSE construction requirements and legislation will ensure safe work practices for construction workers.
Under European Union Law, there is the Directive 89/391 (the Framework Directive) and Directive 92/57 (the Temporary and Mobile Sites Directive) which places requirements on employers to protect workers’ health and safety. A Health and Safety Policy statement is required if a company has five or more employees (under section 2(3) of the Health and Safety Act; 1974). Whilst this statement does not have to be long (it can refer to other documentation such as risk assessments, training and emergency procedures) it does have to incorporate who does what and how it is done. In addition to the standard health and safety policy, an additional occupational health and safety policy may be more effective, especially if there is a large number of employees and diverse work conditions. This could be drawn up by a specialist occupational health professional to include sickness absence management advice, health surveillance, training and education and re-deployment. The referral to occupational health should not be a substitute for the employees’ normal primary care provision within the business. Both provisions for the health and safety of the worker would be used in parallel.
The Construction (Design and Management) Regulations 2007 (CDM Regulations) define the legal duties for the safe operation of the UK construction industry. These regulations cover a very broad range of construction activities such as building, civil engineering and demolition. The HSE’s Approved Code of Practice (ACoP) gives practical advice on how to comply with the law. The main aspects of the CDM regulations are targeting health and safety improvements, having the right people for the right job and controlling risk on site and focusing on effective planning and not just paperwork. Legal duties are placed on clients, CDM coordinators, designers, contractors and workers. The CDM Co-ordinator is the facilitator that makes sure the project team co-operates, co-ordinates their work on health and safety and advises the client.
For certain job roles, there are pre-placement assessments of an individual’s fitness for work that need to be carried out. Examples of regulations that determine this are the Asbestos at work regulations, 2006, Control of Lead at Work Regulations (CLAW) 2002 and The Work in Compressed Air Regulations 1996. Individuals should undergo health surveillance assessments where there are possible hazards to their health, for example individuals exposed to noise, vibration and silica. Individuals involved in health monitoring must have an occupational professional monitoring their progress. Certain cases of disease are reportable to HSE under RIDDOR. Occupational health records should be kept by the occupational health provider (separate from health and safety records) and must be kept 10 years after the employee has left employment.