Safety in the construction industry

Safety in the construction industry

The annual Safety in Construction Show serves as a timely reminder of the hazards and challenges faced by those working on construction and civil engineering sites. Construction, along with agriculture, annually tops the list of industries accounting for the greatest number of fatalities, averaging 39 deaths a year. In many cases the provision and enforcement of wearing protective clothing and Personal Protective Equipment could have made the crucial difference between life and death.

The many different types of work undertaken on construction sites presents a multitude of risks and hazards, creating a complex set of health and safety provisions to be assessed and supplied. A one-stop-supplier for all safety provisions, that provides an Online Management Portal and WEARPACK® service, not only makes it easy to order and re-order vital pieces of PPE, such as filters for respiratory masks, ensuring they are always available when needed, but also helps to efficiently and effectively distributing items to a large and varied workforce.

With access to a single supply chain and a management service, construction site health and safety managers can ensure that workers are never without the vital PPE, protective clothing and equipment they need to do their jobs safely.

Injuries from lifting, handling and welding

Building sites present many physical hazards. Among the most common injuries are musculoskeletal disorders, caused by regular lifting and handling of materials and other items. The Health and Safety Executive provide detailed information about the physical health risks from manual handling, along with assessment techniques, and control and prevention methods. Welders on-site face an obvious heat risk and must be adequately protected with welding leathers. There are also new rules about protecting welders from dangerous fumes.

The dangers of working at height

Working at height on roofs and scaffolding are a well-known and recognised danger for construction workers. Already this year a roofing company has been fined for safety breaches after a worker fell through a roof light and was severely injured. It was found that the accident could have easily been avoided if the correct safety equipment for working at height had been supplied and used.

Exposure to noise and vibration

The construction industry reports one of the highest rates of occupational deafness, caused by over-exposure to loud noise. Long-term hearing issues can be easily avoided by using the correct hearing protection, including earmuffs, noise cancelling headsets and ear defenders.

Hand-Arm Vibration Syndrome is caused by the overuse or misuse of hand-held power tools and hand-guided equipment. Workers using these tools can experience poor blood circulation and muscular damage, even permanently reducing a person’s ability to grip properly. Anti-vibration protection is just one measure recommended by the HSE to protect workers.

The dangers of construction dust

The hazardous substances present on construction sites varies according to the project, but one that can be found on practically all sites is construction dust. Regularly breathing construction dust can cause various diseases, so if a construction worker’s role either creates dust or they exposed to it, they must be adequately protected. Well-fitting and comfortable masks will ensure workers wear respiratory protection and prevent dust entering their lungs, but it is important to regularly check the fit and condition of masks, as well as to replace the filters.

Solvent and isocyanate hazards

Solvents and isocyanates are found in construction products, such as paints, glues and thinners. Safer alternatives can sometimes be sourced but where these hazards can’t be avoided, it is essential to handle them properly to prevent inhalation of the vapours and contact with skin and eyes, which can cause dizziness and more serious complications, including liver, kidney and neurological diseases. As with dust, workers should wear suitable respiratory equipment to prevent inhalation, as well as hand protection to prevent skin contact and eye protection, where necessary .

Lead poisoning and silica dust risks

Old paintwork containing lead is a common hazard for those undertaking renovations. The dust caused when removing old paint presents the danger of lead poisoning, with the lead potentially remaining undetected in the body for many years without symptoms. High levels can cause serious health complications. Similarly, silica dust generated from cutting, drilling and grinding can cause serious illness. The HSE estimated the inhalation of silica dust was responsible for the death of over 500 construction workers in 2005 alone, and in 2019, a building company was sentenced for not properly protecting workers by providing adequate respiratory equipment.

The dangers of micro-organisms

Harmful micro-organisms can be problematic on site too: working on old water systems can expose workers to legionella; exposure to contaminated bird droppings can cause disease; working on ancient land or burial sites could carry a risk of exposure to anthrax; working on sites contaminated with raw or untreated sewage may expose workers to Hepatitis A. Depending on the project, protective clothing, such as disposable coveralls and gloves, as well as respiratory protection, may be required.

Contego Safety Solutions offers a comprehensive range of workwear, safety clothing and equipment, PPE and accessories, and an unsurpassed level of customer service.

Find out more about Contego Safety Solutions’ extensive range by downloading the Contego Catalogue now, visiting our website or contacting our friendly team on 0800 122 3323 or

Published on 11 June 2019


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