Health and safety must be taken seriously on construction sites

At Acorn Safety Services we spend a great deal of time working with construction firms.

Our experienced team can act as CDM (Construction, Design and Management) Consultants and Advisors on building projects so that our clients – whether they’re a principal designer, principal contractor or construction client – can relax in the knowledge that they’re meeting all the requirements of CDM regulations.

There are 39 different elements to the CDM regulations and a further five schedules so it’s no wonder that sometimes designers, contractors and clients can feel overwhelmed by the amount of regulations they must follow. For lots of clients desperate to see their job completed and designers and contractors under pressure to get their projects finished on time and in budget they must look at the regulations and feel like they’re drowning in red tape.

The reason the regulations exist is to improve health and safety in the industry because Construction – along with Agriculture, Forestry and Fishing – accounts for the greatest number of workplace fatalities in the UK each year.

In 2020-2021, 39 people lost their lives working in construction – which is broadly consistent with the five-year average for fatal injuries in this sector of 36.

The CDM Regulations are designed to encourage clients, designers and contractors to sensibly plan their work so the risks involved are managed from start to finish. They require those responsible to have the right people in place for the right job at the right time and to make sure that different trades cooperate and coordinate their work with each other. Under the regulations you must ensure you have the right information about any risks and how they are being managed and communicate this information effectively to those who need to know.

We completely understand why it may feel like a trial for people who are just trying to get their projects completed but these rules are in place to keep people safe.

At Acorn, we also provide Construction Safety Inspections and Audits for all types of constructions site across the UK and because we are an independent and certified Health and Safety company, our clients can be confident our advice and recommendations are always in their best interests.

Our inspections and audits highlight where things are going well on site and if improvements need to be made, thereby helping our clients to complete their projects without incident or injury. This can save clients a huge amount of time and money because if an HSE inspector visits their site and finds contraventions or breaches of legislation they could be taken to court and face significant fines as well as damage to their reputation.

When problems do happen on a construction site those responsible can find themselves facing fines in the tens of thousands pounds.

Earlier this month, a construction company was fined more than £30,000 after a worker suffered life-changing injuries.

Hovington Limited was sentenced for safety breaches after a worker was struck by a falling piece of plant machinery while working on a construction site in Rotherham.

Sheffield Magistrates’ Court heard that, on 4 February 2019, groundworkers, including the injured person, were breaking out ground using a 13 tonne 360 excavator with a hydraulic breaker attached to an automatic quick hitch, as part of trench work to install new drainage of the site at Arconic Forging and Extrusions, Sheffield Road, Ickles, Rotherham. The breaker became detached from the quick hitch on the excavator. The breaker fell, narrowly missing one ground worker, and landed on the injured worker’s right foot. He sustained injuries which led to the amputation of his right leg below the knee.

An investigation by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) found that the company failed to ensure that a safe method of work was in place when working in the vicinity of an excavator, there was no defined segregation between people and plant, and no use of a vehicle plant marshal to ensure the machine was isolated before pedestrians enter the working zone of the excavator. The company also failed to implement a dedicated bucket changing area for the changing of attachments to minimise the risk of attachments falling onto pedestrians.

Hovington Limited of Chichester Street, Rochdale, pleaded guilty to breaching Section 2 (1) of the Health & Safety at Work etc Act 1974. The company was fined £34,000 and ordered to pay £1,935.84 in costs.

After the hearing, HSE inspector Trisha Elvy commented: “This incident could have easily resulted in a fatality and could have been avoided by simply carrying out correct control measures and safe working practices.

“There should be suitable, defined safe systems of work so that persons who need to work in close proximity to excavators can do so safely.”

If you need help to protect workers and visitors on your construction site contact us so we can help you manage your project safely, allowing you to get on with what you do best.For all your health and safety needs visit https://acornhealthandsafety.co.uk/ today or contact us at info@acornhealthandsafety.co.uk or on 01604 930380

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