Accidents at work can happen in a lot of different ways. This post seeks to inform and to illuminate some of the more important accident at work safety issues that can occur on a construction or building site.
Building sites do look like dangerous places, however extensive experience with the predictable and manageable risks they entail has left all competent and caring employers entirely capable of minimising and mitigating these risks.
These are some of the ways that employers can fail to properly protect their employees. We believe that the correct response to this failure is pursuit of a personal compensation claim, but as long as the end result is that workers are better protected, we are happy!
Which Injuries Can Happen At A Construction Site?
Construction sites can be extremely dangerous places to work. Just a few of the dangers you might find on a construction site include trip hazards, falling materials, the risk of falling from a height and construction site vehicles.
Unlike even more dangerous professions such as farming, there is usually a very strict very formal health and safety regime in place to protect construction workers. This makes it even less forgivable when an employer fails to properly protect their employees on a building site.
Preventable injuries on a construction site include many common types of accident (such as slips, trips and falls, and handling, lifting or carrying heavy objects), but also many accidents specific to building sites. You may find that you are injured on a building site because:
- Machinery is faulty, poorly maintained or improperly used.
- Staff are not fully trained to operate the equipment.
- Safety equipment and safety clothing used is not up to the job.
- You are regularly exposed to toxic or otherwise dangerous substances, such as asbestos, MDF fibres or simply dust inhalation.
- Power tools cause injuries including occupational deafness, hand arm vibration, and vibration white finger.
- Scaffolding is poorly constructed.
- Hazards are not properly signposted and separated on the construction site.
- Trenches and foundations collapse, lifts or hoists fail.
- Some combination of the above events.
Because of the chaotic nature of a building site, a combination of health and safety failures can occur and exacerbate injuries. Dangerous materials, such as cement containing chromium or asbestos, can lead to long-term injuries. Loud and violent power tools can cause deafness or long-term injuries.
However, these are not inevitable outcomes of working on a construction site – they are not, and should not be considered as, ‘just part of the job’ or ‘the risk you take when you sign up’. These are easily avoided by adhering to correct working practices, and you should pursue a personal injury compensation claim with your employer if you are injured because of an accident on a construction site.
What Standards Should Your Employer Meet?
The standards an employer should meet on a building site are not particularly high. Employers have a responsibility to protect employees, contractors and visitors to their site, so if you have an accident on a building site you can probably pursue a personal injury compensation claim.
The following standards should be followed by all construction employers:
- Regular risk assessments are undertaken for all activities.
- Safe working methods and processes are implemented, based on these regular risk assessments.
- These processes need to be updated and revisited whenever circumstances change.
- All supporting surfaces and pieces of equipment need to be checked completely, regularly and according to a sensible system. They must be kept entirely safe.
- Necessary machines, tools, and safety equipment must be provided to employees in good and safe condition.
- The workplace must be kept tidy in order to keep it safe. There should be no obstructions to exits and free, safe movement should be easily possible.
- If you have to lift, handle or carry heavy, large or awkward objects you must be given training on how to handle these items safely. If you do not have such safety training, you should not be required to lift such heavy objects.
- All employees must be given safety equipment, including goggles, visibility gear, ear guards and proper safety boots and gloves.
There is much more besides, but this is a good start. If your employer does not abide by these standards you may be eligible for personal injury compensation, if you are injured subsequent to your employer’s failure to properly protect you.
Compensation can range from thousands of pounds to hundreds of thousands of pounds, depending on the severity of the injury. Do not fall into the trap of underestimating the importance of your injury! Concussion, for example, is often written off as a mild injury. While it is classified as a mild traumatic brain injury, it is still a traumatic brain injury!
Those who have experience with concussion are increasingly finding that it has significant, long-lasting effects, and you deserve to be compensated accordingly. Concussion is common on poorly managed construction sites, and can occur due to collision with moving vehicles or parts, objects falling from a height, or falling yourself from a height or into a trench.
Want To Learn More About Accidents At Work?
Even if you choose not to pursue a claim, it’s important to be armed with this information so you can prevent accidents like this from happening again at your place of work!
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