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Why Do You Need a Construction Safety Plan?

Construction is one of the largest industries in the world. It’s also among the most dangerous, with more daily hazards to workers than most other fields. The sector is currently experiencing a challenging phase of higher productivity demands and a persistent labour shortage.

All these factors mean safety is more important than ever. Construction leaders must take action to protect their team members and ensure everyone is prepared to work safely. That starts with a comprehensive safety plan.

Why Is a Safety Plan Important in Construction?

Each year, the construction industry experiences more accidents and injuries than nearly any other sector. In 2021, construction had the highest number of fatal work injuries in the country, according to the Health and Safety Executive (HSE).

Many of the most common causes of these fatalities are everyday hazards workers in construction face. Working at heights, operating heavy vehicles and moving large objects are all part of the job but pose significant risks. Given how common and dangerous these things are, a detailed safety plan to address them is crucial.

Improving Individual Safety

A robust safety plan and thorough employee training can go a long way to decreasing the number of accidents on-site each year. Many workers worry daily about getting injured on the job, so comprehensive safety planning can improve employee confidence.

Team members who know about workplace dangers and how to navigate them safely may feel less stressed. This is a significant benefit considering that stress plays a big role in human error, which is involved in almost every workplace accident, according to the HSE. A safety plan eases this pressure and increases preparedness around construction sites.

Preparing for the Unknown

An extensive safety plan ensures sites are also ready for outside hazards. It’s virtually impossible to predict when emergencies or natural disasters will happen, but preparing for extreme incidents will fortify construction companies against crises.

Promoting Positive Workplace Benefits

Safety plans also produce tangible business benefits. Improving site safety with a comprehensive plan will enhance things in the long run since fewer accidents and injuries will occur, resulting in more team members working at full capacity daily. This is especially important with the construction labour shortage in mind.

Workplace injuries also cost the construction industry £16.2 billion yearly from lost productivity, fines and medical expenses. A safety plan prevents these accidents and helps businesses avoid these high costs.

What Should Be Included in a Safety Plan?

An in-depth construction safety plan must go beyond basic tips, with standards for all roles and tasks, as well as detailed emergency response procedures. It’s vital to focus on clarity and detail. While a flexible plan is advantageous, an ambiguous one will be counterproductive.

Create an Outline

Start by laying out all relevant safety topics. Some online construction resources include safety plan templates or outlines that can provide a jumping-off point.

A safety plan should include basic standards for everyone on-site, including descriptions of each role and requirements specific to them, information on first aid and how to get emergency medical attention on-site. There should also be instructions for safe equipment use, overviews of fire and electrical safety, and details on reporting accidents.

Include Rules, Requirements and Safety Protocols

Everyone on the construction site must know all the safety regulations they must follow. The safety plan should support that goal and detail the required PPE for all employees and what tasks need additional safety gear. Fall protection equipment, such as safety harnesses and rigging, is especially important.

It’s also a good idea to specify areas where smoking and eating are and are not allowed on-site. These activities might not seem dangerous but can cause unnecessary hazards such as spills or illness from accidentally ingesting harmful materials. This section of the plan is also a good place to review safety inspection protocols.

Identify Hazards

The Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations require a risk assessment so employers understand all hazards. These are crucial for safety plans, as hazard awareness improves workers’ ability to avoid site-specific risks. For example, chemical exposure poses several major health risks, especially since some chemicals are difficult to see or smell. Knowing about these ahead of time is essential to staying safe.

Everyone must know where things are stored, what they’re used for, who is authorised to handle them and what to do if anyone is exposed to hazardous materials.

Detail Emergency Procedures

A comprehensive safety plan should also outline how to evacuate the site if necessary and what to do during sitewide emergencies. Explain emergency communication channels and protocols in detail for every relevant crisis.

Be sure to address power loss, as an estimated 25% of businesses experience an outage once a month or more, which can significantly increase the risk of injury on-site. Safety plans should cover what to do during a blackout, including locations of battery-operated lighting and instructions for safely getting off equipment.

Severe weather conditions are other common causes of workplace emergencies. The specific kind that poses the highest risk depends on the region the site is located in, so this requires some site-specific analysis. The initial risk assessment should analyse weather-related risks such as electrical dangers, fire hazards or loose objects that could be dangerous.

Remember to Remain Flexible

The specific details of a construction safety plan will differ between sites and teams. It’s important to consider geographic and project-specific risks. For example, a group working near the coast should include flood and storm response in their safety plan. Likewise, projects like high-rise buildings need greater attention to fall prevention than single-storey houses.

Even after implementing the safety plan, remember it is an evolving document. Making adjustments and updates over time is expected and even beneficial.

What to Do After Creating a Safety Plan

A safety plan is about improving safety for site workers and team members, so the first step after creating and reviewing one should be sharing it with everyone involved. Distributing the information won’t guarantee people read or even look it over, though. Construction leaders should increase safety training initiatives to ensure everyone is as prepared as possible.

In addition to training, it’s important to inform employees about how the plan will likely change over time. Ongoing updates are necessary to improve its effectiveness. The key is that all team members have a comprehensive safety guide that stays current with the hazards they face.

Building Safer and Smarter

Creating a construction safety plan can be a lengthy process, but it is worth every minute. A safer site will help save the lives and careers of millions of employees. It can also save companies billions of pounds annually, which can go toward improved training and safety equipment rather than injury compensation.

A robust safety plan is the first step in empowering the construction workforce to be more prepared, confident and productive.