3rd January 2018
UK construction sector returns to growth
Recent research spells good news for the UK’s construction industry, with activity rising much faster than expected in November 17, due largely to an increased drive to build more houses.
With the government pledging itself to a sharp rise in home starts to address the UK’s chronic housing shortage, understanding the issues faced by the construction sector, providing robust risk management advice and bespoke insurance solutions, all play a major part in the assistance we offer brokers and their clients.
Managing risk for better reward
As a major provider of insurance policies designed to meet the needs of those who operate in the construction sector, we know how important it is for our clients to continually manage the risks they face effectively and proactively, not least because of the impact that accidents and injuries can have on their bottom line.
To help foster good working practices there are laws, regulations and safeguarding measures that contractors and those working in the industry need to be aware of; here are a few that must be considered.
The Construction (Design and Management) Regulations 2015
These set out procedures that need to be followed to manage risks from the inception of a project to its completion. Everyone working on a construction site must be able to demonstrate capability, and have the necessary information and resources to fulfil their legal duty.
Construction site waste management plans
To meet legal requirements, a firm who produces, handles, stores or transports waste has a legal duty to keep it safe, and ensure that they only use the services of those who are authorised to carry it, recycle or dispose of it safely. Everyone involved in a project needs to understand their role in recording the necessary data and contributing to mandatory reports.
Fire is an ever-present danger. The industry’s Joint Code of Fire Prevention on Construction Sites applies to any project with an initial contract value of £2.5m or more, although the threshold can be lower for timber frame construction or high-rise projects. Compliance with the code is a condition of most insurance contracts.
Every year there are more than 5,000 accidents involving transport in the workplace, with around 50 of these resulting in fatalities. A risk assessment is a legal requirement and must encompass all working activities involving moving vehicles. Issues such as site routes, speed limits, and lighting must be addressed. Adequate procedures need to be in place to ensure that all health issues that could affect driving ability are reported, and it must be made clear to all workers that driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs will result in disciplinary measures.
Working in confined spaces
Accidents can befall those working in them, or those who attempt to rescue them. The Confined Spaces Regulations 1997 require firms to follow a system of work that includes adequate training, safety procedures, and the provision of equipment that would be needed to deal with an emergency.
Tackling the health and well-being issues faced by the industry
Injuries in the construction sector are reducing due to an increased awareness of good risk management procedures, however, by contrast, more working days are currently lost due to work-related illness. As well as risking lives, not taking a robust and proactive approach to addressing occupational health issues can lead to high absence rates, damage a firm’s reputation and severely affect their financial position too.
Exposure to excessive noise levels or hazardous substances such as asbestos, solar radiation, and hydrocarbons from coal tars and pitches are all potential operational hazards that need to be properly managed. Measures such as effective air-quality monitoring, routine medical examinations, appropriate training, and the provision of approved equipment, including face masks and personal ear protection, all have a major part to play in reducing risk and keeping workers safe.
Today, it isn’t just physical health issues that contractors need to be aware of. Mental health and well-being are increasingly being recognised as a concern that the industry needs to better address. Figures from the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) show that around 400,000 working days were lost during 2015-16 to anxiety, depression or work-related stress. The Office for National Statistics figures covering the period 2011-15 show that low-skilled labourers had a suicide risk three times higher than the average for England. The HSE has developed a range of tools that can help contractors properly identify issues, and make the improvements necessary to protect their workers.
How we can help
If you have any queries, or would like more information about our range of policies, or the innovative Construction Safety Risk Audit that we offer as part of our commitment to health and safety, then please do contact us on 0345 345 0777.