The construction industry is a lucrative one in which to work, training skilled workers and providing high-demand finished products that stimulate economy and infrastructure alike. Construction is also a dangerous industry in which to work, being a leading industry for workplace fatality. But what are the most common hazards facing the modern construction worker?
Trips and Slips
Trips and slips are a leading cause of public liability claims in the UK, being a common cause of injury for the average citizen. It stands to reason that slips and trips are similarly common on building sites, suffered by workers and visitors alike. It also stands to reason that slips, trips and falls constitute a major reason for the taking-out of builders’ insurance on domestic and commercial builds – to limit liability for commonplace injuries and protect the project’s budget from claims.
Falls from Height
Falls from height constitute the single most common cause of workplace fatality in the construction industry, having accounted for 50% of all construction deaths between 2016 and 2021. With both domestic and commercial construction projects requiring work at height, this represents a common hazard on building sites as well as a relatively unique one across industries.
A surprise entry on this list comes in the form of excessive noise – a hazard easily underestimated by those unfamiliar with construction environments, health and safety legislation or even hearing science. The human ears are extremely sensitive, and not just to excessively loud sounds. Your hearing can also be damaged by long-term exposure to noises above 85dB – or the volume of a lawnmower.
This makes the various power tools and generators found on larger construction sites hazards in and of themselves, regardless of a worker’s direct interaction with them. Construction sites have been found to frequently breach acceptable noise levels, posing further risk in the process.
Another common source of construction injury is electricity. Electrical hazards are evergreen in buildings and engineering work, but the laying of new circuitry poses an especial risk to all construction workers besides engineering staff.
Construction hazards do not merely present themselves in the form of immediate injury or illness. Some hazards can take up to decades to truly impact workers, as evidenced by the prevalence of asbestosis in aging ex-construction workers. Asbestos has long since been prohibited from use in the UK, but constructions still exist today that include asbestos elements.
Still, the asbestosis situation reveals a leading hazard for construction workers even today, in the form of respiratory illness or injury. Particles and debris remain suspended in the air, and can be inhaled by workers not wearing the appropriate personal protective equipment – a particular hazard when it comes to the mixing of concrete or cement.