The Importance of Construction Site Safety

Dangers on a construction site are plentiful: moving machinery, working at height, heavy and bulky materials and tight and confined spaces are just some of the risks that are readily identifiable.

The International Labour Organization estimates that there are over 250 million work-related accidents every year. A 2014 article in Construction Management magazine claims that 19.5% of all fatal accidents at work occur in the construction industry. Shocking statistics, it is fair to say, but perhaps not close enough to home to change attitudes and behaviour?

A recent crackdown on the construction industry in Abu Dhabi saw the city municipality issue 67 offences and 53 warnings to building contractors and consultants for ‘failing to create a safe working environment’.

Of the offences recorded at construction sites several citations included unsafe work at height, failure to service firefighting equipment and non-compliance with personal protective equipment.

The message is clear: construction sites must comply and ensure that contractors and consultants abide by environment, health and safety (EHS) standards to maintain the safety of employees, protect against the risk to life and mitigate against potential hazards in the workplace.

Building a culture of safety compliance

There is no one solution and the reality is accidents will always happen. Providing employees with the tools to identify and manage risks is a necessity when trying to reduce potential harm. Education and improving compliance through knowledge and qualifications must come to the fore.

To help employers in the Middle East and Asia improve the standards of EHS we have recently launched a suite of internationally recognised health and safety qualifications for construction. These short courses provide construction workers with the knowledge and attitude they need to ensure compliance with health and safety standards:

The focus on improving health and safety is not a flash in the pan, but is part of a sustained approach that is being replicated not only in Abu Dhabi but across the Gulf Cooperation Council. The municipality said it would continue the campaign across all building and construction sites in Abu Dhabi.

Following the inspections, the municipality released a statement, which read: 

‘The inspectors also made a number of observations and directives aimed at improving health and safety on-site and ensuring that all requirements are met’.

At Highfield we are keen to play our part in reducing the harm caused by avoidable accidents in the construction sector. With the increased scrutiny on health and safety and the growing importance of equipping workers with the knowledge and qualifications to avoid non-compliance, the worldwide figures for death in the construction industry will only head in one direction. 

Expanded health and safety qualification for construction sector

CSCS cardAn expanded version of the Level 1 award in health and safety in construction has been launched to give learners more knowledge as they work towards their CSCS card.

The HABC Level 1 Award in Health and Safety for Construction (QCF) expands on the qualification available elsewhere but with an additional bolt-on unit which focusses on preventing accidents caused by human factors, covering how effective teamwork and good communication can support safety working practices.

It also covers common hazards and risks in a construction environment, safe manual handling practices, working safely at height and working safely around plant and machinery.

It is designed for learners working in, or aspiring to work in, the construction industry, and will give them the knowledge to undertake their jobs safely. Successful learners who also complete the CITB Operatives Health, Safety and Environment knowledge test will fulfil the requirements to apply for the CSCS Labourer’s card (Green Card).

The qualification has been developed by Highfield Awarding Body for Compliance (‘HABC’), one of the UK’s leading Awarding Organisations, and is aimed exclusively at the construction sector.

Jason Sprenger, HABC Chief Executive, said, ‘Feedback from the industry suggested that many employers and trainers felt the Level 1 award needed to go further and provide learners with more in-depth knowledge. To that end, HABC has added an extra unit – taking it from four to six credits – and making it a more substantial qualification that genuinely helps learners work towards their CSCS card whilst giving them a better understanding of health and safety issues’.

Notes to editors:
1. Highfield Awarding Body for Compliance ‘(HABC’) is one of the UK’s leading Awarding Organisations, offering over 200 qualifications covering a wide variety of industries including customer service, health and safety, licensing, security, stewarding, retail, logistics, catering and hospitality.