Managing construction health risks: Control

Clear plans are no good if you do not act on the information within them. This page gives an overview of what you need to do and how you need to do it. You can find details about controlling key construction health risks and specific tasks in the key topic areas; Cancer in Construction, Controlling Hazardous Substances and Controlling Physical Risks.

What and how

Protect workers by preventing or adequately controlling the risks identified. This means:

  • Prevent - these risks before work starts by eliminating or minimising them. This can be done in many ways such as:
    • designing out the risk
    • choosing less hazardous materials or substances
    • using different methods of work

The law requires you to look at these options first. This is because it is more effective to prevent as many of the health risks as possible rather than controlling them once the work is underway. It is often more cost effective too.

  • Control - any remaining risk. You may still have to do work where health risks cannot be prevented. Control these risks by:
    • selecting effective controls eg the right tools
    • providing the right Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) including Respiratory Protective Equipment (RPE)
    • rotating those doing the task
    • limiting the number of people near the work

The greater the risk the better these controls will need to be. You should not normally rely only on PPE unless you can justify the reasons for this.

  • Train - workers to make sure they are doing the job in the right way and using the controls properly. Train and involve workers on:
    • the risks and how this can harm their health
    • using the controls
    • maintaining equipment and checking it is working correctly
    • using and looking after RPE and other PPE
    • what to do if something goes wrong

Training and information should be in a form that is easy to understand. Everyone working for you should know what they are expected to do. Ask your employees what they think about training to make sure it is relevant and effective. Keeping training records will help you to identify when refresher training might be needed.

Remember - 'Ill-health can be prevented'. It is possible and practical to carry out construction work without causing ill-health.

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Updated 2022-11-01