Stay safe

6th December, 2019

With offsite construction taking many health and safety concerns out of the construction equation, Andy Green, Business Development Director at BM TRADA, discusses the importance of an effective health and safety management system.

It comes as no surprise that the construction sector remains one of the most dangerous industries to work in. The most recent Health and Safety Executive (HSE) report states that 147 people were killed at work in Great Britain in 2018/19, 30 of whom were construction workers. Alongside this, 55,000 workers suffered non-fatal injuries. As health and safety statistics continue to make for worrying reading, construction companies must do everything they can to minimise risk. Some changes are already being considered – specifically in the timber industry, which is using more offsite construction than ever before. Reduced onsite waste, less cluttered sites and a decrease in working at height all have a big part to play in cutting down accidents onsite. With work at height accounting for almost one third of all fatal accidents in the workplace, the increase of craning in pre-fabricated panels should be celebrated. 

While these examples focus on the major risks, organisations must also take responsibility for their workers' well-being, and that means knowing the risks they are exposed to day-today. In a bid to ensure that workers are safe, and to minimise detrimentaleffects on their business, forwardthinking construction companies are embracing health and safety management systems. ISO 45001 is the global standard for occupational health and safety and could have been made for the construction industry. While it is designed for any organisation from any sector, almost half of our clients in this area are in construction.

We find that most businesses in the industry are aware of – and embracing – ISO 9001 (the standard for quality management) and ISO 14001 (environmental management), but until recently there was a gap when it came to occupational health and safety. ISO 45001, which replaces BS OHSAS 18001, aligns in structure and core requirements with other ISO standards that staff are familiar with, making implementation simpler and holistic management more effective. It also mirrors many aspects of the Construction (Design and Management) Regulations 2015  (CDM 2015). ISO 45001 is a systematic approach to identifying and mitigating risks, helping to reduce the likelihood of accidents in the workplace.

It offers benefits including risk prevention; continual improvement; reduced business costs; stakeholder reassurance; visible CSR; the strengthening of legal and regulatory compliance; and boosted staff morale. The framework underpins and reinforces key requirements, such as embedding a positive safety culture and taking a proactive approach to managing risks. There are lots of health and safety standards out there, but ISO 45001 is particularly good because it follows a high-level structure, which champions leadership, worker participation and engagement, and crucially, requires input from every level of the business.

It also emphasises that workers of all types – subcontractors included – must be involved in any health and safety decisions which affect them and need to form an integral part of hazard identification and risk management. ISO45001 involves physically going out onsite and checking if operations are working properly and safely so the team is more likely to spot a problem. Other standards rely simply on a desktop assessment, which can be dangerous.

Those in charge need to know if what they say sitting at a desk translates to actual practice. If they don't know for certain, they are taking a massive gamble. While most business owners are aware of the risks and put safeguards in place to protect workers, many are not taking the issue seriously enough. With so much at stake in terms of human and reputational cost when it comes to accidents – can any business afford to take the risk?

For more information visit:

Share this content



Enter your name and your comment below. Your e-mail address will not be published on the website.