Health & Safety in the Building Industry Part 1

Those dreaded words!! We seem to constantly hear of fatal accidents, inadequate equipment failure and unnecessary risks being taken in the construction industry.

Falls, trips and slips can happen in many industries, however, in construction due to the nature of the environment and the equipment used, they are often far more likely to be fatal. We are going to look at 10 main risk factors and how they can be prevented.

The 10 most common health and safety risks in the construction industry

  • Working from height
  • Falls, trips and slips
  • Moving Equipment
  • Noise
  • Vibration
  • Manual handling
  • Collapses
  • Asbestos
  • Electricity
  • Airborne dust


Understandably falling from a great height is going to cause significant injury and even death.

The most common causes for these falls are:

  • Unsecured or incorrect erecting of scaffolding or ladders
  • Lack of safety nets or guardrails
  • Unprotected edges
  • Loose equipment stored on roofs or raised pathways

In the case of all these potential hazards, it is essential that a risk assessment is carried out and preventive measures put in place. All work must be planned properly and supervised. The workforce must be trained in use and maintenance of the equipment


Primary sources of risk:

  • Wet and slippery surfaces
  • Materials or equipment not checked
  • Uneven surfaces and ground
  • Loose cables

There should always be a designated area to ensure that all tools are kept safe and secure after use. Pathways should be always kept free from debris and hazards. All workers must wear proper PPE and receive regular updates to their training.


Moving vehicles, machinery and equipment are a constant hazard on construction sites. As the building site develops, the risks associated with it also increase.

Sources of risk:

  • Poor working light
  • Heavy duty vehicles
  • Overhead lifting equipment
  • Not enough space to maneuver
  • Having to work close to moving objects

In order to prevent these problems, work areas should be clearly defined. The workforce need to wear high vis jackets so they can be clearly seen by moving vehicles. Steel-toe capped boots are essential as well as helmets to protect against falling objects. It is advised that workers need to be vigilant and aware of their surroundings and not be tempted to cut corners.


Noise levels on a construction site can prove a significant safety risk. Excessive and repetitive noise levels cause impaired hearing which can lead to deafness. It has been estimated that 35% of construction workers in the EU have substantial hearing loss.

Risk Factors:

  • Power Tools
  • Groundwork equipment
  • Heavy duty vehicle

It is strongly advised that employers implement a risk assessment and provide their workers with the appropriate PPE in the form of soundproof headphones. Again, PPE is essential when working in high level noise areas.


Repetitive vibration caused by power tools can severely damage workers nerves and blood vessels. A condition known as HAVS (Hand and Vibration Syndrome) is a common injury in the construction industry. EU-OHSA estimates that 63% of workers in the EU suffer from this. If left untreated it can affect dexterity and the ability to grasp.

Sources of risk:

  • Handheld power tools
  • Ground working equipment
  • Vibrating power tools

If power tools are required, then they should be used for short periods of time only. It is important to keep these tools well maintained. Workers should be trained to use the equipment correctly and again wear the proper PPE including in this instance gloves.

In the Part 2 of this Blog we will look at the remaining 5 most common health & safety risks in the building industry.

It is very evident that risk assessments are vital and should never be overlooked no matter how big or small the project is.

Training of all workers is essential so that no workers are in a situation where they are handling equipment or operating cranes or machinery that they are ill equipped to handle.

Let’s all work together to improve standards within the industry!


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