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Watch Your Step in the construction industry – February 2006

Slips and trips are regularly the biggest single cause of reported injuries in the construction industry.

In addition to several thousand over-3-day accidents, slips and trips cause over 1,000 major injuries on UK sites each year.

Most of those accidents could be easily avoided by effective management of good order issues on sites.

During the Fit Out Campaign in October 2005, where along with work at height issues, good order issues were considered, inspectors found that many contractors were accepting poor practice that resulted in unacceptable risk to those working on, or visiting sites.

The Good Order Initiative in February 2006 was intended to build upon that earlier work, and to identify those contractors that failed to take on board the message that it is not acceptable for corridors and stairwells to be obstructed with materials, footpaths to be uneven, cables to be strewn across walkways or for steps into site cabins to be poorly constructed.

What did we do?

HSE Summary

  • 933 sites were visited -1109 contractors were contacted
  • Work was stopped immediately by HSE inspectors on 134 sites (14%) due to poor site conditions
  • Less than a quarter of sites were found to be in good order

(Details of earlier HSE good order work as part of the FIT Out Campaign October 2005 are also available)

Union Safety Representatives Summary

  • 62 inspections were carried out
  • 29% reported improvement to site conditions by 2 nd inspection
  • 19% reported no change to site conditions by 2 nd inspection
  • 5% reported deterioration to site conditions by 2 nd inspection

What inspectors found?

Many sites had taken action to improve their standards of housekeeping and to reduce the risks of slip and trip injuries. On too many sites however, standards were extremely poor with little evidence that the management of the site took the matter seriously.

A construction site with poor access to buildings under construction

Sites had failed to ensure safe access into buildings under construction.

A construction site with unsuitable pedestrian routes into buildings

Construction sites had not provided suitable pedestrian routes.

What next?

Awareness of good order issues has been raised within the industry and we believe the ‘line in the sand’ has been moved forward to the position where contractors, site workers and HSE are now in general agreement that good housekeeping standards are a crucial factor in reducing the number of slip & trip injuries in the industry.

It is important that this position is not allowed to move backwards. HSE’s Construction Division will continue to promote the importance of good housekeeping and site waste management and continue to work with intermediaries who support this work.

Further evaluation of the information gathered during the 2005/06 Good Order Initiative is planned, in particular

Good order on site – general principles

Principal contractors should consider how they will manage the site to ensure that it is kept in good order.

Everyone on site needs to play their part.

Resources for site ‘toolbox talks’

The resource materials to the right of this page can be downloaded by clicking on the appropriate link, and can be used during site toolbox talks. The materials include:

Updated 2010-10-14