How To Manage Health and Safety In The Construction Industry

How To Manage Health and Safety In The Construction Industry


There is a plethora of informational articles and guidelines available on the government’s HSE website. The regulations and advisories touch upon so many areas of construction and allied activities that it may seem impossible to know where to begin or what exactly one needs to accomplish to properly manage Health & Safety in the construction industry.

What Is Involved In Managing H&S?

It helps to split out the various elements of what can be considered to be termed “managing health and safety”:

  • Knowledge of the law and relevant regulations
  • Developing that knowledge within the workforce
  • Developing competent people to act as H&S managers
  • Recording the required information regarding accident, injuries and illnesses
  • Recording all risk assessment, mitigating actions, training activities, staff feedback and so on to prove that the company is treating H&S with the gravitas and care it deserves.

As regards guidelines for managing H&S, a good starting point is HSG65 Managing for Health and Safety. This takes a holistic view and splits out four areas for taking practical action. The first two address the main duty holders, while the third is for the ‘do-ers’ who implement policies:

  • The principal fundamentals of managing H&S
  • Activities you should be performing
  • Organising H&S activities to be effective
  • What resources are required

Three Possible Approaches

Depending on the size of the organisation and the number and size of concurrent projects, one or several of these approaches may be adopted.

Dedicated H&S Manager(s) – The whole area of H&S is of such critical importance, both for the safety of the workforce and general public, and to protect the company’s legal standing as being fully compliant, that it warrants appointing dedicated resources to overseeing H&S management in large companies,

Professional 3rd party management – similar to the previous point, it may prove more cost effective for some SMEs to bring in external experts to monitor and manage H&S activities. This is usually in addition to support site managers who act as the H&S champions on individual sites.

Using site managers and other supervisory roles – This option required carefully chosen training and some degree of auditing and monitoring to ensure that best practices are being followed at all levels.

What Aspects Of Construction Represent The Greatest Risks?

Health & Safety is essentially all about sound and robust risk management. The guidelines place strong emphasis on risk assessment from the outset of each phase of a project. Because conditions on a site change frequently, almost hourly in some cases, risk is never a static thing.

The L-series (for Legal Reference) of informational pamphlets provide a good picture of what has constituted risks that require managing. The list contains some obvious risks areas and some that might not be immediately apparent to the layman. Note especially this reference book L21: Management of health and safety at work. Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations 1999. Approved Code of Practice and guidance.

Moving Beyond Compliance

This short article does not attempt to be a “How To” guide for manging your H&S activities. There is no short cut – you need to either study the regulations and his to maintain compliance, or engage an external agency such as Workplace Risk Management to perform those actions on your behalf. Contact us today for a free professional consultation on how we can manage the H&S compliance aspects of your business.

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