There are few places where Health and Safety is as important as on a construction site. Even though the UK has one of the best records in the world, there were still 50 fatal injuries on construction sites in 2011. While some fatalities are perhaps unavoidable, it is testament to the benefits of adherence to Health and Safety guidelines that there have been no fatalities at any of the London 2012 Olympic sites.
For every fatality that is recorded, there are many more serious injuries and near misses and many of these could have been avoided if there had been a stricter focus on Health and Safety. Even when dealing with what some may class as “smaller” pieces of equipment, such as excavator attachments, it is crucial Health and Safety onsite is adhered to.
For some, Health and Safety is seen as a barrier, they see the laws as something that gets in the way of getting things done. However, failure to adhere to Health and Safety law is serious and can end up in court.
In January 2012 a construction company and its director were fined by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) for breaching Health and Safety legislation which ultimately lead to the death of a worker on a site in Hampstead. The worker was operating a crane in an attempt to lift a skip of liquid concrete onto the site. When the crane overturned, its boom struck the worker causing injuries so severe that he died on the site.
Both the company and its director were fined under Regulation 8 (1a and 1c) of the Lifting Operations and Lifting Equipment Regulations 1998 which states that “Every employer shall ensure that every lifting operation involving lifting equipment is properly planned by a competent person” and “Every employer shall ensure that every lifting operation involving lifting equipment is carried out in a safe manner”. For further details, go to http://www.hse.gov.uk/press/2012/coi-ldn-3101.htm.
In this case, and many like it, it appears that neither the equipment nor the operators were equipped to carry out the job in hand. Many construction companies try to make the job fit their equipment rather than making their equipment fit the job. Although it is impossible to know for sure, it could be that if the worker in Hampstead had had the right equipment, he could have completed the job and returned home that night as usual.
Health and Safety legislation dictates that you should have the correct equipment to undertake a job. As some jobs require specialist equipment, it is sensible that you consider renting the appropriate construction equipment. A good equipment hire company will only carry equipment that is regularly checked and thoroughly maintained; they will send experts to your site to advise on the type of equipment that you should use.
Clearly, buying equipment isn’t always an option as the cost will quickly become prohibitive, but if you hire your equipment you should ensure that the hire company complies with all relevant Health and Safety legislation and that they provide you with the right equipment to do the job.