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Who is responsible for Health & Safety on construction sites?

The UK construction industry is considered a high-risk industry and accounts for a large percentage of fatal and major injuries, as well as wide-ranging health issues. The most recent figures published by the Health & Safety Executive (30th October 2019) show that in 2018/19 there were:

  • 30 fatal injuries to workers and seven to members of the public. Falls from height accounted for 49% of fatalities.
  • 54,000 work-related ill health cases, 69% of which were musculoskeletal disorders.
  • 4,872 non-fatal injuries to employees, with slips, trips and falls being the most common cause.

A combination of frequent movement of people and machinery and constantly changing conditions makes construction sites difficult to manage from a health and safety point of view. Common hazards include harmful materials, working at height and falling items, manual handling and noise.

With so many risks it is essential to understand who is responsible for health & safety on construction sites. In order to fully understand your responsibilities, the HSE have published clear guidance for the below criteria, so it’s important to understand which category you fall into (HSE website):

  • Clients – are suitable arrangements in place for managing health and safety risks?
  • Designers – have you identified and eliminated health and safety hazards and reduced remaining risks?
  • Principal Designers – are you planning, managing, monitoring and coordinating occupational health risks in the pre-construction phase?
  • Principal Contractors – you must plan, manage, monitor and coordinate occupational health risks in the construction phase
  • Contractors and Small Builders - are occupational health risks that your workers may be exposed to properly managed?
  • Workers – are you taking care of your own health and safety and co-operating with others on health issues?

Whilst the above links provide useful guidance, good health and safety practices are everyone’s responsibility.

Alpha Training are market leaders in providing a range of health and safety training courses. We are a CITB Approved Training Organisation and work closely with the construction sector. You can see our range of construction-specific courses here.

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