5 Common Causes of an Accident at Work in Construction
Accidents can and do happen across all professions, but some jobs are inherently riskier than others. It could be argued that one of the most dangerous workplaces in Scotland is on a construction site. A recent publication by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) noted 30 fatal injuries to workers in the construction industry in 2022 in the UK alone, proving that a construction site is a risky place to work. Watermans personal injury team have put together their top five most common causes of an accident at work in the construction industry, so that you can be aware of potential risks.
What are the causes of construction accidents?
Using unstable equipment
If you are working from a height, you might be using equipment like ladders and scaffolding to reach the height necessary to complete your work. If these aren’t set up correctly before use, there is a greater chance of falling and being injured at work. The Ladder Association has outlined key steps that should be taken to ensure safe use of ladders and stepladders, including making sure your ladder is set up at a safe angle, ensuring only light materials are carried up the ladder and making sure the ladder is long enough for the task at hand. When working on scaffolding, steps must also be taken to make sure that you are safe when using it. Guardrails should be present at all levels of scaffolding, and checks must be carried out on the structure before use by a supervisor. Improper construction of scaffolding has the potential to cause serious, and perhaps fatal, injuries in the workplace.
Struck by a moving vehicle
Working on a construction site will mean working in close proximity to many different types of mobile heavy machinery, including bulldozers, dump trucks and forklifts. This poses a risk of being struck by a moving vehicle to those working on the ground, and effective safety measures should be in place to avoid the chance of an accident at work occurring. Having dedicated vehicle-only zones onsite will reduce the chance of a collision with a worker on the ground. High-visibility clothing must be worn at all times, to ensure the drivers of the vehicles can clearly see pedestrians on the site. It is also important that only those who are trained in operating the vehicles should do so, and that measures are followed like keeping the handbrake on and not leaving the vehicle in gear when stationary.
Hit by falling debris
A construction site is an inherently hazardous environment, and there is always a risk of being hit by falling debris onsite. Roof tiles and other building materials can be dropped accidentally by those working with them from a height. Materials can also come loose when drilling and hammering, so it is important to protect yourself against injury from these falling objects. Those working in construction will know that using specific personal protective equipment (PPE) is essential to avoiding serious injury in accidents at work. According to Government legislation, PPE is defined as “all equipment which is intended to be worn or held by a person at work and which protects him against one or more risks to his health and safety”. In short, PPE is anything that will help to protect you from injury in the workplace. So, in a construction environment, not wearing or incorrectly wearing your PPE can mean you are more at risk of a serious injury if you are hit by falling debris. Wearing PPE like hard hats and steel-toe capped boots onsite will help to prevent serious head and foot injuries in the event of debris falling from a height.
Slips and trips
With so many different jobs required in the construction of buildings, employees across all disciplines can be expected onsite, from labourers and scaffolders to electricians and joiners. Each profession requires specialist equipment and raw materials, and it is important that these are stored correctly to avoid a potential accident at work. According to the HSE, several thousand workers are injured annually by slipping and tripping on the construction site. By keeping the site clean and any walkways clear, employees can continue with their work without the worry of injuring themselves as a result of a fall. It is also important to clean up any spillages as soon as they occur, and erect appropriate signage to warn colleagues about the potential danger of slipping.
Using defective equipment
Working on a construction site means that you will probably have to use construction tools to help you to do your job effectively. While you may expect that the tools you are provided with onsite are safe to use, sometimes they can be faulty. Using faulty equipment can cause serious harm to the person using the item, or to those in the immediate area of work. To avoid the chance of an accident happening, employers are urged to conduct regular safety checks on equipment in order to identify any potential faults as soon as possible. Regular equipment maintenance and ensuring all safety guards are correctly in place can also help to reduce the chances of an accident happening in the workplace.
Have you been injured in an accident at work?
If you have been involved in an accident at work in Scotland that wasn’t your fault, you are entitled to make a claim for compensation. Watermans personal injury team understands that seeking compensation from an employer can seem daunting, but we are here to offer advice at every step in the process. Our goal is to offer you straightforward legal advice, so that you can move forward with life after your accident. To speak to one of our accident at work experts, call us on 0131 555 7055, or contact us using the form below.