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For workers

Introduction

Do your bit

As a worker in the construction industry, you have a key part to play in health and safety.

This section of the toolkit will help you to do your bit to improve the health and safety in your workplace and develop your own skills.

Your rights

It’s your right to work in an environment where the risks to your health and safety are properly controlled. The main responsibility for this lies with your employer.

Employers must consult employees on health and safety matters that affect them. They can do this either directly or through a safety representative.

However, many employers go much further than this minimum requirement and use positive worker involvement to highlight areas of concern and implement effective practices.

What is worker involvement?

Worker involvement covers the basics you can expect from your employers. But it goes well beyond this, making use of your input into the health and safety culture of your company.

Basic requirements

Worker involvement

Worker involvement: The benefits

Why is worker involvement so valuable in promoting health and safety?

If everyone does a bit of thinking about health and safety in the workplace, it can make a real difference.

You know the risks in your workplace better than anyone and you can help manage them.

Key tools

Improving safety

You can improve workplace health and safety for you and your fellow workers in many ways.

You need to know why mistakes happen, and be competent in addressing health and safety issues wherever they arise.

Know why mistakes happen

People make mistakes for many reasons. It’s not always clear why accidents, injuries or ill health occur on construction sites.

But by being engaged you can help managers/supervisors explore all the possible causes.

With this approach individual workers are not blamed for problems, and any issues in the company (eg time pressures, manning levels), can be identified. You and your managers can learn from mistakes and avoid repeating them.

For more information on why people make mistakes, and how to reduce them, see the Human Failure tool.

Being competent

Being competent requires more than the basic skills and knowledge you need for your particular trade.

It also includes the behaviours, skills and knowledge you will need to do your job in a safe and healthy way.

Be ready to...

  • ... co-operate
  • ... speak up
  • ... be assertive
  • ... pay attention
  • ... accept feedback

Dealing with unsafe situations - Stop work

You have a right to stop work in situations that you feel are unsafe (Regulation 8, The Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations, 1999).

The ‘SLAM (STOP...LOOK...ASSESS...MANAGE)’ technique is a simple reminder for you and your workmates to STOP work if you think a task is unsafe or risky to your health and safety

Download SLAM

Further tools

Good practice

You’ve seen how you can contribute to the creation of a safer workplace.

Here's a little more detail on the key points.

Co-operate

Co-operation encourages good working relationships and helps create a safer workplace.

Workers are often the most aware of health and safety issues and solutions on their site.

So it makes sense for managers to get together with workers so everyone can benefits from the sharing of expertise.

Speak up

Be pro-active about talking to your managers about health and safety on your site. Don't wait from them to raise issues. If you identify anything that from a health and safety view you think is wrong or might be improved, speak up about it.

Look at the Health and Safety Executive’s information on worker involvement for advice and ideas on how you and your managers can talk to each other.

Be assertive

Not everyone feels comfortable asking for the right safety equipment or suggesting a workmate takes better care. If we worry about offending someone or making someone angry then the easiest option is to just walk on by or ignore a risk. That simply increases the likelihood that accidents will happen.

Being assertive is important. If you speak up and stand up for what is right and those around you do the same then you will work in a safer and healthier working environment.

Assertiveness is a skill. Like any skill it takes practice to get it right. The Being Assertive tool gives advice on how to develop your assertiveness skills.

Pay attention

Remember, you work in a high-risk industry.

You need to be constantly aware of what is going on around you. This is called situational awareness. Poor situational awareness is often identified as the cause of accidents.

Pay attention to anything in your environment that looks wrong or unsafe. If something looks unsafe, it probably, is unsafe. Whatever you do, don’t ignore it. Do something - it could make all the difference in preventing an accident. If in any doubt, stop work.

To learn more about how to improve your awareness, go to the Knowing What Is Going On Around You tool.

Accept feedback

Feedback can mean the difference between going home safely to your family and friends and going to hospital or worse. Without feedback none of us would stop and think or learn how to do things differently.

Nobody likes being told that what he or she is doing is wrong. Sometimes if it is not handled well it can make us feel frustrated and angry. But when someone gives you feedback they are looking out for you – so listen to them. The Receiving Feedback tool will help you learn about feedback as part of the worker involvement process, and the different ways of accepting it so that it is meaningful for both sides involved.

Your employer’s responsibilities

To find out more about your employer’s responsibilities for health and safety visit the Employer’s page on the HSE site.

Sources of advice

As well as asking your manager, safety representative or trade union representative, you might also want to check out independent sources of advice, such as the HSE worker pages.

Safety representatives

An obligation to consult

In workplaces with trade union recognition, employers must consult with safety representatives appointed by the trade union on health and safety matters.

In workplaces without trade union representation, employees must also be consulted, either directly or through their elected representatives. The TUC's Safety Rep pages provide links to a range of training material.

Safety Representatives: How they can help

  • Being consulted ‘in good time’ over a large range of health and safety issues
  • Attending safety committee meetings
  • Inspecting the workplace for potential hazards
  • Taking part in risk assessments
  • Investigating accidents, cases of diseases or ill-health, and dangerous occurrences

Summary

Worker involvement: The benefits

Why is worker involvement so valuable in promoting health and safety?

If everyone does a bit of thinking about health and safety in the workplace, it can make a real difference.

You know the risks in your workplace better than anyone and you can help manage them.

Ten Key Messages

  • 1. Health and safety is the responsibility of everyone on site.
  • 2. Get involved. Doing your bit will help to make your workplace safer.
  • 3. Be alert. Mistakes are easy to make and hazards are not always obvious.
  • 4. Keep informed. You have a legal right to health and safety information.
  • 5. Be competent. Make sure that you have the correct behaviours, skills and knowledge to do your job safely.
  • 6. Talk to managers. Workers are often the people who are most aware of the health and safety issues and solutions on their site, so it makes sense for managers to listen to you.
  • 7. Listen to feedback and act on it.
  • 8. Be assertive. If you speak up and everyone else around you does the same, you’re more likely to improve your workplace’s health and safety.
  • 9. Be aware. Constantly assess potential risks.
  • 10. Stop work if necessary. If feel unsafe performing a task, then don't do it.
Updated: 24.09.14