Today marks the beginning of a national construction safety inspection campaign by the Health and Safety Authority (HSA). There will be 350 construction inspections during the campaign. Inspectors will be targeting sites where self-employed and small contractors are present, including one-off housing projects.
Since the beginning of 2016 there have been 14 fatal accidents on construction sites, with five to date in 2017. Of the 14, the majority (10) were self-employed construction workers or small contractors with less than 10 employees. Over the same period, from 2016 to date, half of all construction deaths have as been as the result of a fall from height. There are, on average, 540 non-fatal construction accidents reported each year.
Martin O’Halloran, Chief Executive of the HSA says there are a number of reasons why small contractors, or self-employed construction workers, are more likely to have an accident: “They may be less safety conscious, there may be less supervision and self-employed people may be more willing to take risks. While we recognise the mind-set we also know that it is self-defeating. You can’t earn a living if you are seriously injured or dead and that is a reality that many families have to face each year.”
Over the last number of years significant work has been done to make construction safety regulations easier to comply with according to Martin O’Halloran: “We have created safe systems of work for most construction activities using pictograms and checklists. This system is simple and can be understood by anyone in any language. We have developed an online risk assessment tool, BeSMART.ie for construction. It is confidential, free, easy to use and again can be understood by anyone. The tools for working safely in construction are there, the excuses for failing to do so, no longer exist.”
Construction Safety Week is being held in conjunction with the Construction Safety Partnership Advisory Committee (CSPAC). CSPAC members are carrying out a number of safety awareness initiatives during the week including promotional videos, social and media campaigns and training workshops.
Monday 23rd October also marks the start of European Week for Safety and Health at Work. The theme for this EU-wide campaign is “Healthy Workplaces for All Ages”. By 2030, workers aged 55–64 are expected to make up 30 % or more of the workforce in many European countries. Employers and employees are urged to review and consider their approach to managing safe and healthy conditions throughout working life.