A common code is needed to improve health and safety standards across the UK construction industry, according to a new report by multinational construction technology, software and service provider Hilti (in association with Travis Perkins).
The Construct The Future white paper brings together expert opinion from across the sector, including contributions from the Health & Safety Executive (HSE) and firms such as Mace, Arcadis and Morgan Sindall.
The report identifies cross-industry initiatives, led by trade associations and large contractors, as the most effective way to confront the construction sector’s future health and safety challenges. This call for collective action includes the need for a sector-wide health and safety code to improve communication, education and consistency from site to site.
Speaking in the report, Matias Jarnefelt, general manager (Northern Europe) at Hilti, says:
“As much as we can work to mitigate risk, by their very nature, building sites remain dangerous places to work. To promote discussion and drive awareness of the issues, we’ve consulted at the highest level across the sector to produce this report.
“We wanted to understand what firms see as their most pressing priorities and how they are moving to address them, and we’re keen to share these insights with the wider industry for everyone’s benefit.
“It’s clear from speaking with the industry leaders involved that there is not enough consistency across jobsites and, only by committing to shared practices, will we ensure that all UK construction workers are able to go home safe from each shift.”
The panel of experts contributing to the report identifies exposure to silica dust as the most significant risk to workers in the long-term. Every year, the sector sees around 450 deaths from lung cancer associated with legacy exposure to silica dust.
With the majority of fatal incidents in the sector involving smaller businesses, technological innovation and education within the supply chain are viewed as critical components to delivering any future cross-industry improvements in compliance.
Catherine Gibson, Tool Hire Managing Director at builders’ merchant Travis Perkins, adds:
“While many of the contractors we work with have real clarity when it comes to managing risk through their supply chain, we also work with a lot of smaller firms who simply don’t have the resource, time and understanding they need to meet the expected standards.
“There remains an issue around how best to communicate key health and safety themes, including dust, hand-arm vibration and noise control, to site level to support these firms.”