The construction industry is, statistically speaking, one of the most dangerous to work in. Alongside agriculture, it kills several workers every year, and injures hundreds more.
This inherent lack of safety has several downsides, many of which might not be so obvious. Death and injury, naturally, are bad things in and of themselves. But they also depress productivity, dampen morale, and inhibit recruitment. If yours is a workplace where health and safety are not taken seriously, in other words, your bottom line will suffer.
How dangerous is working in construction?
Let’s assign some numbers to the problem. This is quite straightforward, since the Health and Safety Executive collates reliable figures. The Labour Force Survey says that around 565,000 workers suffer injury every year, with 61,000 of these being reported under RIDDOR.
In construction, however, we see that the death rate is around three times the ‘all industry’ death rate. Around half of these deaths are caused by falls from height – which can be a problem on smaller sites as well as large ones.
The importance of protective workwear
There are a number of steps we might take to limit this problem. Many of the more effective ones concern procedure and training. But the provision and use of the right personal protective equipment can help us to cut the risk substantially. So, what kinds of workwear might be appropriate?
The quality of your shoes will make a big difference on a construction site. They should be rugged enough to provide grip, even in potentially awkward, slippery situations. They should also offer enough protection against dropped tools. Going for something that’s been designed with this environment in mind can be enormously beneficial.
When choosing gloves, a balance has to be struck. If your fingers are restricted, or otherwise made immobile, then the chances of an injury might actually increase, as you risk mishandling a tool. This is where fingerless gloves come in handy!
Construction site workers are exposed to high volumes for much of their working lives. Power tools can be loud! Protecting your ears is therefore critical. Make this a habit, and you’ll protect yourself from the insidious damage that unprotected ears can suffer.
Perhaps the most iconic piece of workwear, the hard hat offers protection against falling objects. It can make the difference between life and death, and should be considered mandatory.
Similarly, the use of power tools will create the risk of flying particles. If you’re drilling into a wall, there’s always the chance that a stray brick fragment might come flying back into your face. The solution? Get some eye protection!