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On the safe side

When it comes to health and safety in construction most SMEs have their ducks in a row. The costs are too great to run the risk of untrained and uninformed workers on site and contractors will make every effort to ensure the correct guidelines and procedures are in place.

The majority of clients also expect their suppliers and partners to be able to demonstrate relevant accreditations with certification for Contractors Health and Safety (CHAS), Quality Standards (ISO9001 and ISO14001), Safe Contractor and Construction Line now established as the norm.

Accreditation is certainly reassuring and demonstrates that a contractor has considered the matter of site health and safety and taken it on board - but it’s not enough to overcome the biggest obstacle when it comes to making a site hazard-proof…

Complacency is a constant threat and is an issue that should be taken most seriously. (Although this is not just a problem for the construction industry. It’s an issue that’s universal: Regardless of your job; whether you are a site manager, a long-haul driver or you’re working on the frontline for the police; it’s hard not to become complacent and a little less alert once you get good at a job and know the ropes back to front.).

The best method to combat complacency in our industry is regular risk assessments and ‘on the spot’ checks. The construction industry accident fatality rate more than doubles that of most other industries. Fact is that working building sites are in a constant state of flux and there are numerous potential hazards to be navigated that can pop up unseen.

These environments can become extremely busy with numerous types of tradespeople, from various companies, and an assortment of vehicles on site and moving about at any one time.

There’s heavy machinery in use and materials being delivered by large dumper trucks which can alter the terrain, along with any potential dangers, regularly making it impossible to second guess where and when an accident might occur. The only way around this is to advise workers to be on constant alert and to make sure that good signage is in place and that regular site checks are carried out.

Communication warning workers of potential hazards is often cited as one of the most frequent violations of standard industry regulations, beaten only by adequate protection from falls – the most common cause of death for construction workers.

The nature of the work undertaken to construct large buildings, and to fit out and re-fit the same, will always lend itself to danger. It can’t be helped but how we choose to tackle it can.

At Saracen, all of our workers are fully trained to carry out the work that they are being paid to do and that includes full safety awareness training. It’s a pre-requisite and we expect the same of all our suppliers. For example, if you’re working at height, using any form of equipment or engaged in manual handling, you will not be on our site if you haven’t had the correct training.

We also place great emphasis on what is worn on site. There is a reason why protective clothing is available, including special site boots, high-vis vests and jackets, hard hats and gloves, and we demand that all our workers are appropriately kitted out.

We only use fully-trained electricians to carry out our electrical works and our health and safety signage is always displayed prominently. We have strict site rules and we stick to them and rule number one is never to get complacent. This is closely seconded by, and reflected in, rule number two: Check, check and then check again.


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