Health And Safety In The Construction Industry Construction Essay

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The construction industry has always had a high level of fatalities, major injuries and incidents of ill-health when compared with other sectors. Great Britain is reported to be approximately four times higher fatal accidental injury rates in the construction industry, although many laws and regulations has been issued to related parties involving to construction put a lot of efforts since the 19th century. However it is believed that health and safety system has stood the test of time and the country is one of the best combined health, welfare and safety records all over the world . They are reasons why Great Britain is chosen to address the health and safety in construction industry.

The assignment is about health and safety in the British construction industry. It firstly addresses how the country manages health and safety matter, in particular: the legal system and the health and safety system. Health and Safety at Work etc Act as a principal piece of legislation relating to occupational health and safety will them be mentioned, following by health and safety management for organisation. Furthermore, the next part will be moved down to analysis of fatality and injury given by Eurostat statistic and British data. Finally, two current issues and a priority in construction industry will be selected to discuss.

Brief of legal system for health and safety

Great Britain constrains three countries: England, Wales and Scotland. Therefore each country having law and regulations can be different. Almost law applies though the whole of three countries but some apply in one, two or three countries. This section introduces an overview of the main legal system in the Great Britain for health and safety. In three countries, Scotland has different laws and systems with other countries. England and Wales have same system . The structure of the legal system for health and safety is shown in the first figure.

The main court system in Great Britain for health and safety (adapted from )

Two sub-division of the law apply to health and safety issues. There are criminal and civil law. Employment Tribunal courts solve employment and conditions of serve issues. However they sometimes deal with any appeal over health and safety enforcement notices and disputes . More details about health and safety court system will be briefly indicated in the first appendix.

The health and safety Approach

The influence of European health and safety

It is said that almost half of all the British regulations came from the EU and the health and safety law has no exception since Great Britain is in the European community. EU has concerned about this matter a lot and has had the biggest impacts with solid legal frameworks. Its law has promoted each European member states. However, Great Britain has had a long tradition of health and safety regulation since the 19th century. Therefore many of health and safety regulations has given effect to European Union directives .

The foundation of current health and safety regulations

The Great Britain has had health and safety regulation for more than 150 years. The HSW Act was published in 1974. It set up new institutions and included the progressive revision and replacement of all health and safety law existing before . In this section, the British health and safety system is presented to show how the legal system organised and operated. Figure two below illustrates main health and safety institutions in Great Britain. The Health and Safety Commission and the Health and Safety Executive are two main institutions were created by the Act 1974.

The main health and safety institutions in Great Britain (adapted from )

Main institutions and sectors

The Health and Safety Commission (HSC) is responsible for health and safety regulation while the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) and local government, working in support of the HSC, are the enforcing authorities. Their mission is to ensure that risks to people's health and safety form work activities are properly controlled. Construction is a key target for the HSE because of the particularly high levels of work-related illness and workplace injury . Because of the importance of the Act 1974, it will be paid a lot of attention to find out about.

Health and Safety Commission (HSC)

The Secretary of State for Transport, Local Government and the Regions appointed maximum of ten people for HSC after it consulted with organisation having employers, employees, local authorities and others, as appropriate.

The main function of HSC is to make arrangements to make sure the health, safety and welfare of people at work and the public by providing information and advisory services, conducting and sponsoring research, proposing new law and standards and controlling explosives and other dangerous substances. Other duties of HSC are to maintain the Employment Medical Advisory Service providing advice on occupational health matters. Moreover, it has a general duty for helping and encouraging people concerned with all these matters

Health and Safety Executive (HSE)

HSE is the operating arm of the HSC which appointed three people with the consent of the Secretary of State for Transport, Local Government and the Regions. The HSE functions are to advice and assist the HSC. It has specific responsibilities when sharing with local authorities for enforcing health and safety law. Figure three illustrates the structure of the HSE. The organisation has approximately 4000 staff are from different backgrounds :

administrators and lawyers in government departments;


scientists, technologists and medical professionals;

information and communications specialists, statisticians and economists;

finance, accounts and personnel specialists.

HSE has the majority of staff working like inspectors with crucial statutory powers. They have legal power to issue informal warming, improvement notes, prohibition notices immediately or prosecute for serious health and safety cases .

The Health and Safety Executive structure

Health and safety in the public services

Great Britain has the majority of public services involving to health and safety at work. The public services sector plays indispensable role in national policy responsibility for all central government department and their agencies. They contain the National Health Service and subsidiary care organisation, local government and independent health and social care. Moreover, education services, police, defence and rescue services also belong to them.

Education and training

Education and training are focused on by HSE and education stakeholders. Many health and safety campaigns have been deployed every year in both Euro and Great Britain to raise awareness of health and safety issues at work. Campaign programmes also present new risks and practical solutions with useful guides. Other importance of health and safety campaigns is to increase labour knowledge of health and safety problems .

Health and safety training is a legal requirement under the Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations 1999 and some other regulations so employers have responsibility to provide training programmes if their employees have limited skills and knowledge a health and safety.


It is legally required for employers' liability insurance. When employers hire staff, they have responsibility for the employees' injury and disease. To secure employers have at least a minimum level for the employees, the Employer Liability (Compulsory Insurance) Acts 1969 and the Employers' system Liability (Compulsory Insurance) Regulations 1998 (amended in 2004). Therefore insurance companies play a vital role for improvement of the British health and safety standards .

Summary of legal health and safety regulations

List of the main legal health and safety requirements

Due to the limited scope of the assignment, the lists of the main legal requirements about the health and safety issues will be shown in the second appendix. It is useful to have quick reference to the legal requirements.

The Health and Safety at Work etc Act

Overview of the Health and Safety at Work etc Act

The Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974 (HSW Act) is the major part of health and safety legislation in Great Britain. It was published to provide comprehensive and integrated legislation solving the health and safety of people at work and the protection of the public from work activities. The HSW Act describes to duties of related parties related to the workplace . There are four main parts in the Act :

Part one includes provisions on :

The health and safety at work

Protection of others at work against risks from work activities

The control of atmospheric emissions

Part two refers to the Employment Medical Advisory Service.

Part three presents amendments to the safety aspects of building regulations.

Part four introduces miscellaneous and general provisions.

Duties of related parties

One of the main principles of the HSW Act 1974 is to impose of duties of care on everybody who create risk from work activity and involved to their roles. The Act mentions specific roles and responsibilities on employer, self-employed, employee, owner, designer, supplier and manufacture . This section will present their general duties .

Duties of employers

According to section two of the Act 1974, employers are ensured, so far as is reasonably practicable, the health, safety and welfare at work of their employees. In particular, the extensions are:

the provision and maintenance of plant and safety system of work;

the safe use, handling, storage, maintenance and transport of articles and substances;

the provision of necessary information, instruction, training and supervision;

a safe place of work including safe access and egress and

the provision of safe working environment with adequate welfare facilities.

Duties of self-employed

Under the Act 1974, the self-employed have similar duties to employers with the exception of the safety policy requirement (unless they turn to employ other employees).

Duties of owners or occupiers

In the section three and four of the HSW Act 1974, every employer and self-employed have duties to conduct their undertaking in such a way to ensure, so far as is reasonably practicable, that persons no in their employment who perhaps affected, are not exposed to risk to their health and safety.

Duties of employees

The HSW Act 1974 describes two main duties of employees:

Employees must take reasonable care for their health and safety and others who my affected by their acts and omissions at work.

They also cooperate with their employer, so far as is reasonably practicable, to enable their employer to comply with their requirement or duties under the Act.

Duties of manufactures and suppliers

Section six in the Act refers to designer manufacture, importer and supplier duties, any articles and substances for use at work:

to ensure that it is safe and without risks to health when properly used;

to carry on or arrange tests or examinations as may necessary for the performance of their duties;

to provide adequate information and any conditions necessary to ensure it will be safe without risks to health;

to carry out or arrange for the carrying out of any necessary research to discover, eliminate or minimise any risks to health and safety.

Health and safety management (for organisation)

In the previous sections, the overview of health and safety system was presented in the national level of the system in Great Britain. This section is focused on company level about how employers manage and arrange effectively. In addition, it is also helpful for employers' representatives. This section also presents how employers can fulfil their legal duty to provide health surveillance.

The occupation health and safety management system: HSG 65

There are three major occupational health and safety management systems used globally. They are: HSG 65 developed by the HSE, OHSAS 18011 provided by the British Standards and ILO-OSH 23001 made by International Labour Origination. However, HSG 65 was introduced by the regulator (HSE) so it is much more widely used in Great Britain . Figure four indicates elements of HSG 65 for health and safety management system. The outline of the key elements is given in detail below.

Key elements of successful health and safety management (

The purposes of the system are to indicate the principles and management practise which provide the basis of effective health and safety management. It also mentions issues which need to be solved. Furthermore, the health and safety management system can be used for developing improvement programmes, self-audit or self-assessment .


Making right health and safety policies show clear direction for the organisation. Therefore, they will have their own vision: intentions, approach and objectives. When the organisation has the clear policies, they help business efficiency and continuous improvement.


A well-defined health and safety organisation requires a shared understanding of the organisation's vision, values and belief at all levels. Every employee is motivated and empowered to work safely and to protect their long-term health, not only to avoid accidents.

Planning and implementing

A clear health and safety plan combines the setting and implementation of performance standards, targets and procedures through the operation in health and safety management system. Risk assessment method is used to eliminate hazards, reduce risks and control effectively. Measuring success requires the establishment of performance standards against which achievements can be identified.

Measuring performance

This is an important step to show how to improve the health and safety performance. The measurement of health and safety performance includes both active and reactive monitoring to see how effectively the health and safety management system is working. While active monitoring looks both hardware (premises, plant and substances) and software (people, procedures and systems); reactive monitoring finds through investigation of accidents and incidents why controls have failed. Moreover, the long-term objectives and goals of the organisations are likewise monitored.

Reviewing performance

After measuring the performances, the result should be systematically reviewed to assess and evaluate the performance of health and safety management system comparing with the initial objectives and targets. The objectives and targets can be changed in this stage.


An independent and structured audit of all parts of the health and safety management system reinforces the review process. The organisation can maintain and improve their ability to manage risks from their experience. The audit evaluates compliance with the health and safety management arrangements and procedures. It will identify weaknesses in the health and safety policies and procedures.

Plan- Do- Check- Act health and safety management system

In HSG 65, the HSE also introduced another simple and effective health and safety management system which is similar to other global ones. The approach is called Plan- Do- Check- Act system and explained in the figure five.

Plan- Do- Check- Act for health and safety ()

Health surveillance

The construction industry has high percentages of fatalities and injuries. However, occupational ill health is presentable and many of these costs can be reduced when employers taking effective steps to control health risks at work. One of these steps is to apply the health surveillance of employees. The health surveillance plays a vital role of risk management. The health surveillance is legally required by certain regulations, principally the Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations 1992 and the Control of Substances Hazardous to Health Regulations 1999.

HSE provided the risk assessment for employers to manage health risk in the Health surveillance at work publication . It is described in the figure six.

Health surveillance: Risk assessment

Employers have their responsibilities to achieve their targets by taking the health surveillance actions. These contain :

Involve employees and their representatives

Obtain specialist advice if appropriate

Identify the most suitable health surveillance procedure

Design system, put someone in charge

Set up the programme

Carry out procedures/feedback information

Keep records

Monitoring, action and evaluation:

Protect individuals at risk

Review your risk assessment

Improve risk control

Discuss grouped results with employee representatives

Analysis of injury and fatality

Eurostat is a Directorate-General of the European Commission whose main responsibilities are to provide statistical information to the institutions of the European Union (EU) . This section presents the fatality and injury European comparisons and countries and regions. Moreover it is mainly focused on the fatality and injury in construction sector.

General European statistics

According Eurostat cited in , Great Britain has the lowest of the rate of fatal injuries comparing with other large economics like Germany, France, Spain, Italy and Poland in 2008. Although non-fatal accidents were at a similar level to other large economic countries in 2007, they were better overall EU-15 and EU-27 rate. Moreover, rates of work connected with ill health resulting in sick leave were lower than most EU countries in 2007. Consequently, Great Britain performance was better than may of European countries in terms of accident fatalities and levels of self-reported work-related ill health. Figure seven indicates comparisons between the UK and other groups in Euro.

Health and safety performance comparisons between the UK and EU-15 and EU-17 (Eurostat quoted in ).

Countries and regions statistics

Based on HSE statistics, although every countries and regions follow the British health and safety system, the number organisation of fatal injuries and rates of injuries are quite different in 2010-2011 periods due to various reasons. Figure eight presents these comparisons between each country and region in Great Britain.

The fatality and injury statistics in the countries and regions should be edited

Construction sector

In Great Britain, although the number and rate of injury have dramatically decreased since over last 20 years, construction sector still is considered as a high risk industry due to:

the construction industry is only stand for approximately 5-6% of the workforce but it still account for around 27% of fatal accidents and 9% of major injuries;

employee is almost 5 times more likely to be killed than workforce in all other sectors;

workers are more than twice likely to get a major injury than the average for all industries;

HSE has almost 25% of their inspectors in the construction industry.


As can be seen from the figure nine below, in over 20 year's period of time, the number of worker fatality was higher than other industries. Although the number has reduced by two-third comparing with 20 years ago.

Worker fatalities in different industries

In the 2010-2011 period, 50 people working in construction sector were killed, with 18 of these fatalities were self-employed. These numbers compared with an average of 19 to the self-employed. Those figures are shown in the figure ten.

Number and rate of fatalities

Furthermore, in the 2010-2011 periods, the rate of fatal injury per 10 000 construction worker was slightly lower than on over previous five years, 2.3 and 2.5 respectively.


Construction accounted for 26% of all reported injuries to employees relating high falls, 29% of collapses, 25% of drowning/ asphyxiation, 16% involving electricity and 16% connecting with explosions . The HSE divided into two key injuries: main injuries and other three day injuries.

Major injuries

The rate of reported major injuries had been reduced since 2004-2005. The numbers of those had also fallen since 2007-2008 (25% for rate and 38% for numbers) . They are shown in the figure eleven.

Number and rate of major injuries to employees

Over three day injuries

Figure twelve illustrates the number and rate of over three day injuries to employees from 2004-2005 to 2010-2011 period. It indicates the rate of reported over three day injuries had a similar trend with the rate if major injuries: had been decreased since 2004-2005. The number of reported injuries has also fallen (22% for rates and 30% for numbers) since 2007-2008 .

Number and rate of over three day injuries

Days lost

The Labour Force Survey reported that approximately 2.3 million working days were lost (around 1.1 days per worker) because of self-reported work-related illness or workplace injury. Over 75% of this was caused by health problems and around 25% were injuries . Figure thirteen shows rate of non-fatal injury per 100000 workers from 2002-2003 to 2009-2010 period.

Estimated incidence rates of non-fatal injury per 100 000 workers

Current issues and priority

Two health and safety issues and a priority are introduced in this sector. The first issue is about health and safety for migrant workers. The overseas workers has an important part but HSE identifies them as a particularly vulnerable group of construction workers . Although the number of fatalities and injuries in British construction sector is lower than others, the statistic still continue to be alarming, particularly falling from height is an serious problem . Therefore the second issue is about work at height. Furthermore risk in construction needs to be reduced by better co-ordination, management and co-operation between all parties. This leads to Construction (Design and Management) Regulations 2007. The last part is concerned a "new" regulations.

Migrant workers

Migrant worker has an important role in providing skills and filling labour shortages in the British construction industry. However, when HSE had interviews with 200 migrants in five regions of England and Wales, more than a third of the migrants had not received any training in health and safety and two-thirds had the training programmes was generally limited to a short session at induction . It is estimated that migrant employees accounted for 8.2% of the labour force in the construction sector. In many regions, the number even is much higher, 37% of the workforce in Great London, for instance.

In the UK, five overseas workers were killed on construction sites in 2005-2006 and another five deaths in 2006-2007. The number was higher with nine foreign workers between April 2008 and March 2009 in construction work activities. The average percentage of overseas employee deaths in construction industry is between 14-15% of the overall death cases in all sectors .

The HSE has provided many events to familiarise migrants with important aspects of the health and safety regime. The organisation published key language translation of documents. The practical checklists in "Health and Safety in Construction HSG 150" are example. Construction Skill, the Sector Skills Control for construction has built web-based materials to assist the effective integration of migrant worker. They help construction employers with information and support tools to secure that overseas employees they employ are properly qualified, competent and safe .

When employers hire foreign employees, they need to consider in particular Health and Safety Executive (2010b):

language and communication issues;

basic competencies, such as literacy, numeracy, physical attributes, general health, and relevant work experience;

whether vocational qualifications are compatible with those in Great Britain, and are genuine;

the possible effects of the attitudes and assumptions of workers new to work in Great Britain, or of British workers towards them.

It is important to provide migrant employee relevant induction and general health and safety training to ensure that such training is fully understood. Although there are many regulations, guides and programmes to help employers and protect foreign workers, almost employers have not really concerned the health and safety management for overseas workers. It could be the main reasons for the high level of overseas fatalities and injuries. Moreover, despite of difficulties when migrant workers require the health and safety training or safety working stuff, they should be more aware of their own health. Their union and worker representatives should have more roles under the law.

Work at height

Work at height is any activity relating to people working in a position from which they could fall and injure themselves. In the UK, approximately three million workers work at height as a part of their job. Every year, work at height accounts for the highest fatal injuries in all workplace activities with around 50-60 deaths. Looking at the table one about injuries due to falls from height in different industries in the 2004-2005 period, construction accounted for the highest percentage of all two major cases: fatal accident and major injuries (HSE quoted in ). It clearly indicates that falling from height is the main cause of workplace fatalities and serious injuries, particularly in construction sector. Although the figures have recently been reduced, construction still is the top of serious injury cases in term of falling from height .


Fatal accident (%)

Major injure (%) (%)

Overt three-day injure (%)













Other Services








The proportion of injuries categorising by sectors (HSE cited in )

The HSE addressed the issue by publishing The Work at Height Regulations 2005 as amended in 2007. The Regulations does not only apply for construction work but also is relevant to other various works. The Regulations identifies a place is "at height" if a person could be injures falling from it, even if it is at or below ground level. It has no minimum height requirement for work at height.

Before employees start working at height, the Regulations requires their employer to secure that:

all work at height is properly planned and organised;

all work at height takes account of weather conditions that could endanger health and safety;

those involved in work at height are trained and competent;

the place where work at height is done is safe;

equipment for work at height is appropriately inspected;

the risks from fragile surfaces are properly controlled; and

the risks from falling objects are properly controlled.

Employers are considered to apply a three-stage hierarchy (which is shown in a figure fourteen) for managing and selecting equipment for work at height .

Hierarchy of control measures

The Construction (Design and Management) Regulations 2007

The Construction (Design and Management) Regulations 2007 (CDM 2007) came into force in April 2007. It replaced the Construction (Design and Management) Regulations 1994 (CDM94) and the Construction (Health, Safety and Welfare) Regulations 1996 (CHSW) to make it easier for those related in construction project with their health and safety duties. The HSE said that the new regulations focus on planning and management to secure a safe project rather than paperwork .

The main principal aim of CDM 2007 is to integrate health and safety into the management of the project and co-ordinate everyone working together to :

Improve the planning and management of the project for very beginning;

Recognise risks early on to eliminate or reduce at the design or planning stage and control the remaining risks;

Target effort where it can do the most good in term of health and safety;

Discourage unnecessary bureaucracy.

Everyone contributes to the health and safety of the construction project has duties under the Regulation. Although CDM 2007 based on CDM94 and CHSW, it introduces many changes to the safety regime . These are:

Designers have new duty to eliminate hazards and reduce risk, as far as is responsibly practicable. Their designs also are complied with the Workplace (Health, Safety and Welfare) Regulations 1992;

A Client will not have any chance to appoint an agent to take on their legal duties and criminal liabilities. Therefore, the CDM Coordinator role is more advisory in helping to fulfil their duties to comply with the Regulations.

Principal Contractors have to give their contractors how much time for preparing work in construction site.

Planning Supervisor will be replaced by CDM Project Co-ordinator who carries responsibility for co-ordinating health and safety aspects of the design and the planning phase of the construction project.


Although Great Britain has good performances in term of health and safety in construction, the number of fatalities and injuries always has been higher than other sectors due to its risk rate. The British health and safety law and regulations have had long history with tight requirements applied for all related parties. This assignment was introduced overview of the British health and safety approach taken to manage health and safety in construction. Particularly it was paid more attention about its regulations and requirements. Two current issues and a priority were carefully chosen for discussions. They were showed that there still have many problems which everyone relating to this sector should take more actions to improve safety conditions at work.