Construction is a notoriously dangerous industry. In the UK, where we are based, the industry employs around five percent of the country’s workforce. According to government statistics thosefive percent have twenty-two percent of the work related fatal injuries and ten percent of the reported major injuries. In the US, seventeen percent of worker fatalities are in the construction industry.
As shocking as these statistics sound, there’s been a significant improvement in both countries over the last forty years. I think the reasons for this are threefold. Firstly, there is much more safety legislation nowadays than formerly. Secondly there’s a much more consistent use of safety clothing and equipment – much of which you can study at leisure on this site. Thirdly, more workers receive various forms of safety training. I firmly believe that the way to continue to improve safety in construction is to make training and refresher courses widely available for people employed in the industry and I also think that it’s in the construction companies’ best interest to ensure that their employees can access training. Why do I believe this? Well, there are several reasons:
1) Companies can be financially liable for the safety of their employees. Even with insurance your premiums will go up dramatically if you have accidents on your sites.
2) Companies generally want to employ the best workers. If you have a good reputation for safety practice, people are more likely to want to join you and stay with you. If your employees see that you’re willing to develop their skills, they’re much more likely to stay loyal to you.
3) Workers are often injured by the actions of other workers. Think about it – how likely is it that you’ll be fatally injured by a falling object that you’ve dropped? How likely is it that you’ll have put up the scaffolding that’s worked loose and caused you to fall? The more workers on your site who have safety training, the safer the whole site will be.
4) Companies can receive site inspections from official bodies. Some are empowered to fine companies for non-compliance with legislation. The more knowledgeable your employees are, the less likely you are to have compliance breaches on your sites.
5) Companies are in a position to request bespoke training from education co-ordinators if they’re putting through a large number of pupils. This means that the trainer(s) will put your company’s policies and procedures at the heart of their training. You are also in a position to monitor the way that the training is delivered and make sure that your employees have the skills rather than just the piece of paper at the end of it.
Are you involved with the construction industry? Do you have any views on the safety training you’ve received? We’d be interested to read your responses in the comments section.