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?
- Throughout February HSE Construction Division Inspectors carried out targeted inspections looking at good order issues on construction sites and how effectively these were being managed. The overall aim of the Initiative was to reduce trip injuries on site.
- 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)
- In the lead up to February we received considerable support for the initiative and the aim of improving housekeeping standards on construction sites from the principal intermediaries with responsibility for contractors and site workers. These included CONIAC, CECA, ECIA, FMB, HBF, MCG, NASC, NCF, TGWU, UCATT and numerous regional construction safety and CDM support groups. The efforts of all intermediaries were greatly appreciated and we hope they will continue their active support.
- Union–appointed safety representatives also made a contribution to the impact of the Initiative by carrying out site inspections using the same criteria as those used by HSE Inspectors. They were invited to follow up their initial inspection with a second inspection, later in the month to record any improvements in housekeeping on site.
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.
Sites had failed to ensure safe access into buildings under construction.
Construction sites had not provided suitable pedestrian routes.
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
- to assess the extent to which those who took up the guidance material made any significant change to the management of their sites/work methods;
- assess whether there has been any reduction in the number of slip & trip injuries reported under RIDDOR.
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.
- Traffic routes should be segregated from pedestrian routes.
- The procurement of materials should be managed to ensure that only the minimum amount of materials are stored on site at any time .
- Everyone working on the site should be aware of the site policy for managing the movement & storage of materials around the site, and the removal of waste from work areas.
Everyone on site needs to play their part.
- Walkways and stairs should be kept clear and free from obstructions.
- Footpaths should be firm & level, stoned up if necessary, gritted if icy.
- Work areas should be kept as clear as possible of unnecessary materials and waste.
- Materials should be stored safely, whether in the site compound or around the site
- Workers should comply with the site arrangements for the removal of waste.
- Good order problems should be reported to site management – See it, sort it.
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:
- A 5 minute video of case studies including an injured person's story of the devastating effect a simple trip on site has had on his life; and how two construction contractors effectively manage good order issues on site.
- A booklet which accompanies the video with detail of the same case studies and useful tips on how to effectively manage good order issues on site.
- A poster to support the Good Order Initiative, which can be displayed in site cabins etc.