Why is health and safety important in construction & manufacturing?
“Health and safety” is a term that covers a huge variety of topics, but ultimately it is the identification of hazards and the measures in place to protect people from them. In the workplace, this can include anything from protective equipment to keeping walkways clear and even correct training.
However, with health and safety being so broad, it can lead to areas being missed or overlooked, as often ‘it’s not that important’. But, it is no secret that manufacturing and construction are some of the most dangerous sectors to work within, and keeping your staff safe and healthy is crucial to creating a positive workplace and running the organisation smoothly.
Why is Health & Safety so important?
Construction and manufacturing environments carry a wide variety of risks making them some of the most dangerous places to work (accounting for over 40% of workplace deaths in the UK, last year – 2022/2023). So, it is crucial to keep these places as safe as possible and evokes both a legal and moral responsibility to do so.
The moral responsibility is your duty as the employer to keep the workplace as safe as possible, to ensure your staff return home safe at the end of the day. Although there are no direct repercussions, your staff will hold you accountable.
However, your legal duty under the “Health and Safety at Work Act 1974” requires you to, as far as reasonably practicable, provide:
- A safe workplace with clear entrances and exits
- Maintenance for safety equipment and ensure safe systems of work
- Correct storage for materials and safe use/transport
- Training and information
- Safety equipment
This legislation is designed to provide a minimum standard of health and safety and does hold severe consequences if not met – up to an unlimited fine, prison time or disqualification.
How can you ensure compliance?
Risk assessments are a great way to ensure you meet the standards, as they have you identifying the risks present and putting in measures to keep everyone safe. This can be anything from checking your PPE availability and quality to making sure exits are clear.
They are also a requirement under the “The Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations 1999” stating:
“Every employer shall make a suitable and sufficient assessment of—
(a)the risks to the health and safety of his employees to which they are exposed whilst they are at work; and
(b)the risks to the health and safety of persons not in his employment arising out of or in connection with the conduct by him of his undertaking”.
Risk assessments must be kept up to date – when any significant changes occur and recorded if you have 5 or more employees.
Another tool you can use is regular training. Although this doesn’t directly impact the working environment it will remind your staff of the correct and safe procedures, encouraging them to keep their environment clean and using the correct PPE where appropriate. This training can be in-person reviews or from online sources like videos or E-learning tools.
Other benefits of maintaining a high standard of Health & Safety
A safe working environment also comes with many other benefits – increases in productivity, a better reputation, and a higher quality workforce to name a few. So not only does better health and safety keep your workers safe and healthy, but it will also improve the quality and efficiency of your business throughout.
Poor health and safety will affect the productivity of your workforce, as it makes them extra cautious when completing tasks, not only having negative effects on them mentally but also slowing them down, as they don’t feel safe.
A better reputation of safety also comes with many benefits, primarily making it a desirable place to work. This will help with reducing staff turnover but also encourage higher quality applicants when you are looking to hire, due to the increased competition/interest in your roles. Not only that but it will make staff happier knowing the risks they face at work are minimal as no one wants to feel unsafe whilst working.
HSE (2023) Legislation: Leading health and safety at work (hse.gov.uk). (Accessed: 08/11/2023)