Who can be injured on a construction site?
Construction sites bear multiple hazards and can be a risk for builders, visitors and members of the public alike. The construction company, however, has a duty of care to keep employees and the public safe. In the following, we take a look at some common risks for the most vulnerable people on construction sites:
The public, for example a pedestrian or a car driver can find themselves in hazardous situations, such as:
- Objects falling to the pavement leading to head or foot injuries
- Unsafe road or path diversions, which can lead to road traffic accidents and various injuries
- The construction site is not clearly marked and closed off and can be mistaken for a path. This can lead to slips, trips and falls.
The most common injury for an electrician is suffering an electric shock. Usually, one of the following causes the accident to happen:
- Working with untested electrical equipment
- Unqualified staff being asked to work on electrical equipment
- Faulty or malfunctioning equipment
- Working in an unsafe environment, e.g. a wet construction site.
An electric shock does not always lead to a serious injury. However, depending on voltage, current and other circumstances, it can have fatal consequences.
People working at heights
Builders, roofers, scaffolders and bricklayers are especially likely to suffer an injury from falling on a construction site. Falls from heights are usually caused by unsafe scaffolding or gantries. Faulty or missing PPE can lead to more serious injuries. Common injuries include:
People moving heavy objects
Moving heavy objects without the appropriate lifting equipment can lead to serious back injuries. Suitable lifting equipment has to be provided by your company and by failing to do so they breach their duty of care.
Forklift drivers and machinery operators
Forklift drivers and machinery operators often have to operate hazardous machinery under time pressure. This can easily lead to accidents such as:
- Injuries caused by defective machinery
- Injuries caused by missing safety guards
- Injuries caused by unsafe operation
How do I report a construction site injury?
All construction sites, minor or major ones, have to follow the CDM regulations. These regulations define processes, risk management and safety procedures, which have to be followed for each construction project. Watch this video to learn more about the importance of the CDM regulations.
In order to control accidents at work, HSE enforced RIDDOR: Reporting of Injuries, Diseases and Dangerous Occurrences Regulations 2013. RIDDOR puts duties on employers to report serious workplace accidents, occupational diseases and specified dangerous occurrences (near misses). To find out if you have to report an accident, we refer you to the overview of reportable injuries by HSE.
Who pays for my compensation?
If you have been injured on a construction site, you might be able to claim compensation from your employer or, if you are a member of the public, from the principal designer according to CDM. Your employer has a duty of care to keep you or members of the public safe. Your employer needs appropriate insurance to be able to pay you compensation.
Employers liability insurance
Your employer must have liability insurance. This ensures that your employer is able to pay you compensation if you've suffered an injury at work.
Public liability insurance
Companies are not obliged to have public liability insurance. However, almost all companies who interact with the public, or who can put the public at risk, choose to have public liability insurance. It protects businesses from compensation claims by members of the public and usually covers the following:
- Injuries in and around your property
- Property damage
- Legal expenses
Common PPE for construction sites
A lack of PPE is a common cause for an accident or injury. It is your employer's duty to provide you with appropriate safety equipment and to train you how to use it.
A helmet or hard hat must be suitable for the construction site you work on and protect you from falling objects. A bike helmet, for example, is not suitable. A helmet or har hat must be worn at all times, to protect you from objects, falling down on you. So even if you are just a site visitor, you will most likely have to wear a helmet.
Certified ear protection must be worn if you work with noisy equipment over a certain period of time to avoid noise induced hearing loss. Noise induced hearing loss (NIHL) can be deafness, partial deafness, as well as tinnitus.
Foot and leg protection
Wearing safety shoes is almost always mandatory on construction sites. If you forgot your footwear, your employer should not let you work on the construction site.
Eye and face protection
Your eyes and your face are very sensitive and depending on your work and the tools you use, safety goggles or safety helmets that protect your face are required. Eye and face protections are divided in different categories for different tasks. Make sure you wear the appropriate goggle or mask for the work you are doing.
Construction sites are always dusty to work on. And there are millions of tiny particles in the air, which will affect your lungs if you breathe them in over a longer period of time. Protect your lungs by wearing the appropriate mask to cover your mouth for tasks such as:
- Working with chemicals
- Mixing building materials
- Industrial baking
- Working with dangerous materials such as asbestos
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