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’.
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:
- Highfield Level 1 International Award in Working in Confined Spaces
- Highfield Level 1 International Award in Work at Height
- Highfield Level 1 Health & Safety for Construction Labourers and Site Visitors
- Highfield Level 2 International Award in Work at Height
- Highfield Level 3 International Award in Health & Safety for Construction Supervisors
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.