Accidents at work
59 families were devastated by fatal injuries in the UK construction industry in 2005/2006.
• 24 deaths were as a result of a fall of more than 2 metres
• The majority were employed in small companies
• An effective H & S management system, like the newly updated BS OHSAS 18001, is seen as necessary to reduce impact further
There is a demonstrable improvement in the construction industry fatality statistics. According to the Health and Safety Commission’s “Statistics of fatal injuries “in 2005/2006 there were 59 fatal injuries in construction whereas the statistics for 2000/01 show a total of 114 people were killed as a result of construction work. An improvement - but there is still more to be done to reduce the impact on families and friends. Consistently, over five years, falls of more than 2 metres accounted for almost half of construction deaths (48%). In January 2007 Richard Lockwood, Principal Construction Inspector for the West Midlands said, 'Seventy five percent of all people killed or hurt on building sites across the country work for small companies employing fewer than 15 people.”
Michael Bright, Managing Director of IMSM, the international standards experts, stated his concern.”A sustained effort from the industry, including smaller firms, is required to secure further year-on-year improvements. The future of construction can be assured by ensuring that it can be both safe and sustainable. All companies have the responsibility to make sure that their employees are properly trained, have the correct equipment and are supervised, so implementing BS OHSAS 18001 shows that a company is taking its health & safety responsibilities seriously. It is both in the individual and companies’ interest to ensure that training is put into practice and that work is done safely. Sufficient steps must be taken and continuously monitored to prevent the consequences of a fall.”
BS OHSAS 18001 is the Health and Safety Management standard which has been developed for international use and is based on the ISO 9001:2000 standard. It enables an organisation to control its health and safety risks and improve its performance. An effective H & S management system will not only aid the compliance with legislation but, most importantly reduce the risk to employees and their families.
The Health and Safety Executive’s view is that a company’s failure to provide proper safe working environment and training are significant contributors to the fatality statistics. It is the companies’ duty to ensure that all workers are trained and supervised, whilst accepting it is the responsibility of individuals working on the site to make sure that they are working safely.
Work at height must be properly organised, planned and supervised by people who are competent and knowledgeable enough to select the safest solution. The current regulations include requirements to avoid work at height if at all possible: prevent falls if work is done at height, and mitigate the consequences of any potential fall. Small companies who are not large enough to employ their own safety manager can retain a Health and Safety consultant such as IMSM to help them develop safety management policies and procedures.
In 2005/06, 28% of all worker deaths in the UK were in the construction industry. Policing of the industry’s activities has contributed to an absolute reduction in fatalities – 59 distraught families are still too many. The construction industry has worked hard to improve the safety record, the next step is for the industry, especially smaller companies, to embrace training and to develop safety management policies and procedures, including BS OHSAS 18001, even more enthusiastically.