When working in construction, the health and safety (HSE) of your workers and the general public should be a key priority.

There are, however, several variables that must be considered and adhered to when thinking about construction site risk assessment: in construction, conducting risk assessments should be a high priority.

The introduction of The Health and Safety at Work Act 1974 details the legal obligations you have to those working on your construction sites, but also the general public who could be affected by your construction project.

It is important to seriously consider the HSE considerations and obligations of construction, as failing to do so adequately could have catastrophic consequences to the health of lives of other people.

Take a look at RiskMach’s useful, easy-to-follow guide on what you need to know and the things you need to do to adhere to the obligations placed on your firm and simplify the processes involved.

 

Risk Assessments – The Legal Background

Along with The Health and Safety at Work Act 1974, The Construction (Design and Management) Regulations (CDM Regulations) 2015 were brought in to safeguard the health and safety of workers and the public by ensuring that all potential hazards are identified and considered during a project’s lifecycle and to reduce or neutralise such hazards.

The primary purpose of the CDM Regulations is to identify and eliminate potential risks during the design process, whilst reducing any residual and inherent risks where practicable and possible.

Conducting regular risk assessments on your construction site is a key part of your risk management activities. To ensure you are compliant with the health and safety regulations,  you must ensure that a risk assessment that is “suitable and sufficient” has been carried out. 

Should your legal responsibilities not be adhered to, this could lead to workplace accidents resulting in injury or even death. Non-compliance can cause legal proceedings to be brought against you and your firm, causing damage to your reputation and your finances.

 

Important Steps to Risk Management in Construction

Whichever type of assessment you are required to conduct for a project, you must be thorough, precise and cover a wide berth to ensure that, ultimately, people are kept safe.

 

Planning

You must consider and lay out your encompassing strategy to manage any construction site health and safety risks. Your considerations should always include:

  • where you are
  • objectives of the project and how they are to be completed
  • who shares the site and how can you foster good HSE practices with them
  • potential individuals (subcontractors, inspectors, stakeholders, media etc) who may visit the site sporadically

All considerations should be done relative to the size of your firm and the complexity of the project.

 

Identify

All risks associated with the work to be conducted should be considered:

  • nature of the tasks required and any special, potentially-hazardous equipment need to conduct said tasks
  • any HSE risks particular to such tasks
  • who could be affected
  • how isolated could the harm be – individually or could it harm many people?

All risks should be considered and identified; even routine construction tasks in construction, such as lifting and carrying, tool inspection and refuge clearing should be inspected.

 

Assess

How harmful could the risks be to human health or life:

  • probability/change of the HSE risk causing harm
  • the seriousness of said harm

Particularly important to consider here are the ‘invisible’ dangers that are present on construction sites, which often do not pose an immediate threat; more likely to cause long-term health implications. Important to consider would be such things as asbestos, cancer-inducing airborne substance particles, hazardous substances, smoke and non-water vapours.

 

Involve

Particularly important within heavy industry and construction – simply due to the heightened risk posed to people through the nature of work – is creating a positive collective culture and commitment to HSE and workplace conduct.

Involving your workers to identify the risks and collectively communicating methods to overcome them or mitigate risks entirely is far more effective than just coaching them. Sure, some tried-and-true workplace behaviours may cut corners and create conveniences, but they may also pose more risks; it is important to receive these shortcuts, acknowledge them – as opposed to dismissing them, to then counterpoint said shortcuts by demonstrating the risks and promoting the alternatives in-line with HSE standards.

Fostering worker involvement whilst acknowledging their involvement and ideas will establish a positive workplace culture of empathy, communication and collaboration, paving the way for a working environment welcoming of HSE-conscious practices and processes: understanding why such things are important.

 

Address

Once all HSE risk assessments have been completed and each risk posed has been identified, you can then begin to collate all feedback and expertise to commit to a plan of action.

As mentioned previously, involving workers is crucial to this process as it helps foster and cultivate a positive attitude and culture towards being committed to protecting the health and safety of workers, their colleagues and the general public.

Risks posed should be contained, isolated or neutralised entirely through your HSE strategy, either through the core design of your construction site or if they are residual and unable to be omitted through design, through positive workplace behaviour and conduct.

 

Types of Assessment

As a specific legal requirement, you are obliged to conduct risk assessments. Under 3(6)(a) of The Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations 1999, it is detailed that there is a requirement for risks to be controlled in all workplaces, including construction sites.

This places a legal obligation on you to consider what locations, objects, processes and behaviours may cause harm to human life and define the necessary steps needed to avoid those risks: effectively, Regulation 3 is the basis of conducting risk assessments.

 

General/Generic Risk Assessments

Known by two names – general or generic risk assessments – they are assessments for the general activities to be carried out during the project, but not adapted for that particular project/environment/building/roof etcetera.

Although they are primarily intended for the ‘general activity’ to be conducted, they make for good HSE workplace practises and provide great guidelines and templates for generic tasks and activities: though they aren’t specific enough for particular sites or projects.

It is important to ascertain the health and safety risks posed to the general public, as well as your employees.

Any findings of significance must be noted when there are five or more working on-site. It is also good practice to do so when workers are fewer than 5 in number, as it helps you maintain an ongoing catalogue of possible risks as well as your HSE responsibilities and strategy.

Five Steps to a Generic/General Risk Assessment

  • Identify all risks and hazards – both fatal and non-fatal
  • Identify who is at risk and how – including employees, subcontractors and the general public
  • Rate and prioritise the risks – discuss with your team, professionals and perhaps even emergency services to rate the priority of risks on-site
  • Record all findings of significance – what they are, how they can cause harm and ways to control the risks
  • Schedule follow-up assessments at regular intervals – risks may emerge, change or become negated as your project progresses, regular checks can keep others safe from harm or even death

 

Specific Risk Assessments For Construction Sites

Will your construction site expose anyone – workers or the general public – to any of the following HSE risks? If so, a specific risk assessment will be required.

  • lead
  • manual handling
  • noise
  • vibration
  • working at height
  • working with hazardous substances (COSHH)

If the answer to the above question is “yes” you may be required to carry out a further Specific Risk Assessment.

 

Make Risk Assessments in Construction Easy With RiskMach

Considering the HSE obligations within the construction industry, the recording and admin process can often be time-consuming, laborious and often messy.

Alleviate the headache associated with the notation and cataloguing of risk management by utilising the specialist, all-in-one risk management platform, RiskMach.

As a cloud-based, fully-integrated platform, RiskMach allows you to inspect, log, track and monitor the progress of all HSE compliance activities in one centralised place: in app form for your convenience.

Available on all devices and accessible from anywhere in the world, RiskMach allows clients to share data with each person involved in HSE compliance processes. Data is kept safe within the RiskMach Vault, ensuring that data is safe from loss or theft by malicious actors or human error: easily accessible by you, should it be required for you to provide proof of your compliance to the regulatory authorities.

Eliminate the headache of HSE compliance, admin and record-keeping by making use of the specialist services offered by RiskMach: eliminate a clutter of separate devices and apps to unify your workload!

 

Get the app 

 

If you found our guide on risk assessments within construction helpful, please view our FREE RiskMach PDF to get more in-depth information about our proprietary RiskMach system or you can drop us a line to discuss your options with the experts.

Whilst you wait, check out our other useful risk assessment guides!

How to Report Health and Safety Risks | Why Are Risk Assessments Important? | Workplace Near Misses: With Examples