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Construction Essays - Construction Industry Workers

Paper Type: Free Essay Subject: Construction
Wordcount: 5416 words Published: 1st Jan 2015

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Construction Industry Workers

The construction industry currently employs 2.2 million workers making it Britain’s largest industry (HSE, 2007). However, the sheer size of the industry comes at a cost as it is regarded as being one of the most dangerous industries to work in due to the individual complexity of construction projects and tough working conditions that workers are exposed to (HSE, 2005). The wide range of activities undertaken by construction workers further emphasises the need for a high level of legislation and management of measures to reduce accident and injuries throughout the entirety of the construction process, from planning to demolition. This is essential if the health and safety on construction sites is likely to improve and become more effective, which is important for not only the people already involved within the construction industry, but also for the expected 2-3% growth within the next 5 years (Reference). (Reference) suggests that poor design and management in the construction industry is the principal cause of the unacceptable accident and fatality record throughout construction sites in the UK. This needs to be improved through the improved implementation of measures to reduce these statistics which has been highlighted through the introduction of the Construction (Design and Management) Regulations 2007, which are perceived to provide numerous benefits to the construction industry from design concept onwards and help ensure that construction projects are safe to build; safe to use; safe to maintain, and deliver good value. These regulations aim to avoid, reduce and control health and safety risks faced by construction workers and others through preventative measures particularly during the design and management stage, whether engaged in, or affected by, new build, maintenance, repairs, demolition or other construction works (Joyce, 2007).

http://www.hse.gov.uk/aboutus/hsc/meetings/2006/171006/c54Ann6.pdf

The CDM regulations have the potential to make a significant impact on the industry with regards to health and safety however it is unrealistic to think that this can be achieved very quickly without encountering any problems in an area which has had much debate regarding this topic. It will take time before the new legislation will be free flowing however improvements in both effectiveness and efficiency can be expected as lessons are learnt. Get help with your essay from our expert essay writers...

Rationale for the Research

The subject of this dissertation developed from a personal interest in the Health and Safety aspect of the construction industry and the significant research within the industry on how to minimise the injuries and fatalities on construction sites. In the construction industry, the risk of fatality is four times more likely to occur than in any other industry throughout the UK, whilst the risk of major injury is two and a half times higher (HSC, 2005b). A Health and Safety Executive (HSE, 1997) study, reveals that the construction industry has one of the highest ratios of non-injury to injury accidents of all UK industries. For every major accident on a construction site, Heinrich’s accident to incident ratio model suggest that there will be approximately thirty minor accidents and three hundred near misses (Hughes & Ferrett, 2007). The HSE (2007) recorded 77 fatalities on construction sites during 2006/2007 and 3,711 major injuries to employees in construction related accidents. Include the 7,108 over 3 day injuries reported to the HSE and an estimation of under-reporting of injuries of approximately 45%, and it is evident that the accident rates in the construction industry is unacceptable and needs to be reduced. The Government and the Health and Safety Commission became aware of this on going poor record in the construction industry and at the Construction Health and Safety Summit in 2001, set a target of reducing the number of fatalities and accidents by 66% in the UK by 2010. The fatality rate appeared to be reducing year after year, with a industry record low of 59 fatalities in 2005/2006 (HSC, 2006) compared to the 69 in 2004/2005 (HSC, 2005) showing sufficient progress was being made. However, the 77 fatalities recorded in 2006/2007, and already 60 fatalities recorded in the first 9 months of the 2007/2008 period (HSE, 2007) shows that progress was short lived and that once again the rate of fatalities and injuries within construction sites is inconsistent and starting to rise. The latest published statistics by the HSE shows the increased need to improve the measures used in order to prevent accidents and fatalities on construction sites. The CDM regulations 2007 which is the latest legislation to be introduced to the construction industry aim to achieve this through implementing regulations to develop improvements at the design and management stage of construction projects by placing more responsibility on all parties involved. The HSE suggested in ‘Blackspot Construction’ that 70% of the fatalities and accidents on construction sites could have been prevented by positive action by managers within the industry (Joyce, 2001) and speaking from Ashburton Grove, Kevin Myers, Chief Inspector for Construction said: “Every fatality is one too many, most are preventable, each a tragedy for those affected”. As a result the fundamental aim of this study is to identify factors to improve health and safety measures on construction sites within the UK with a view to reducing the number of accidents and fatalities. The importance of improving these measures to reduce accident statistics is because, apart from the human cost of suffering, moral and legal effects an accident may have; the economic cost to organisations can be devastating. In a study undertaken by the HSE, it was shown that accidents produce direct costs such as injury, ill health or damage which can be insured against, however it is the indirect costs such as material damage and legal costs that are most costly to organisations as they can be up to 36 times greater than the direct cost of an accident (Hughes & Ferrett).

The following information in this chapter gives further details about the principle aim and objectives for this research topic.

Aim

To identify factors to improve health and safety measures on construction sites within the UK with a view to reducing the number of accidents and fatalities.

Objectives

This aim will be investigated through a series of key objectives:

1.To provide an understanding of the current health and safety legislation that surrounds the construction industry with a particular focus on the CDM regulations 2007.

2.To provide a review of the history of accidents and fatalities within the construction industry.

3.To identify the current measures used to prevent accidents and injuries on construction sites.

4.To establish the main effect of preventative measures and what factors would assist the preventative measures used on construction sites within the UK in order to reduce the number of accidents within the construction industry.

5.To identify operatives understanding of the CDM regulations as well as success and problems associated with them.

6.To establish views from CDM duty holders on the current effectiveness of the CDM regulations.

Outline Research Methodology

This research topic has incorporated two research approaches in order to collect information which was the following: secondary data collection and primary data collection.

Secondary data collection

This form of research refers to the ‘desk study’ approach where data is obtained from sources that cite from primary sources. This method had been used to achieve the first, second and third objectives. These sources will be critically appraised by means of a systematic literature review which will cover the internet, textbooks, newspaper articles, research journals, thesis, reports, trade publications, etc.

Primary data collection

This form of research refers to the methods of primary data collection which can take the form of a number of practical approaches. This method of research was accomplished to utilise objectives four and five. The selected method for this thesis will be a structured survey approach in the form of a questionnaire. This method was selected as it is the best form of gathering data from a large number of respondents in a relatively short time frame. The questionnaires will adopt a semi structured format, employing both open and closed questions to gather the appropriate data.

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The research method is a way in which the research objectives can be questioned and achieved. Throughout my research I will be using a number of core sources of references such as the books, the internet, newspapers, companies, journals and questionnaires in order to carry out my objectives. I will decide upon the most appropriate research strategy which can be carried out in two ways depending on the purpose of the study and the type and availability of the information required. These two methods can be classified as “Quantitative” and “Qualitative”. Quantitative research (Naoum, 2007) can be defined as “objective” in nature. It involves the description or analysis of statistical procedures that involves specific measurements of variables to determine whether a theory holds true. Qualitative research on the other hand can be defined as “subjective” in nature (Naoum, 2007). It does not involve the use of specific variables, but relies on reasons behind various aspects of data. It emphasizes the means, experiences and different descriptions of topics from different authors points of view. The type of qualitative data collected fell under the classification of attitudinal research. Attitudinal research is used to ‘subjectively’ evaluate the ‘opinion’, ‘view’, or the ‘perception’ of a person, towards a particular object (Naoum, 2007). For this study the ‘object’ has been the CDM regulations and the ‘person’ has been the duty holders that implement these regulations.

The purpose of this section is to inform the reader of the contents of this dissertation. Each chapter within the dissertation has a brief description stating what each chapter includes, the purpose of it, and its relationship to carry out the research aim and objectives, followed by a conclusion of the chapter.

Chapter One - Introduction

Chapter one highlights to the reader the main topic area that is being investigated and researched into. It does not going into depth in the topic but it does provide a background and rationale into the research area. Within this chapter the research aim will be described as well as the objectives and the research methodology used in order to achieve the objectives set.

Chapter Two - History of Health and Safety legislation

Chapter two will provide a detailed description of the health and safety legislation that has surrounded the construction industry since the first publication in 1961. A particular focus will be on the latest legislation known as the CDM regulations 2007 highlighting specific roles each professional has within the regulations in order to implement rules to provide a safer construction site. This chapter will also provide a background into the main changes that have occurred and assess the main reasons for why these changes were necessary.

Chapter Three – Accidents and injuries within the construction industry

This chapter intends to review the statistics provided by the HSE on fatalities and accidents within the EU member states, the industries within the UK and in particular and in particular the accidents and fatalities within the construction industry. It will analyse statistics prior to the introduction of the CDM regulations as well as after the introduction of these regulations highlighting any common problems that have occurred and potential reasons this.

Chapter Four – Measures to prevent accidents on construction sites

This chapter intends to review the main systems in place to reduce accidents on construction sites and comment on which are the most successful that should be developed further. This chapter will also discuss the cost implementations of implementing these measures along with the potential benefits of doing so.

Chapter Five - Research Methodology and Questionnaire / Interview Design

This chapter highlights my proposed research methodology for obtaining the information necessary for my study. This chapter also describes how questions for my interview have developed as my research has become more detailed, as well as why such questions were chosen for the interview and what I intend to achieve from these.

Chapter Six - Analysis of Results

Chapter Seven with provide the reader with a detailed analysis of the results from my questionnaire / interview. A wide range of data will be gathered so therefore a summary of the information which highlights specific areas will be presented in the form of charts, tables, graphs and a written conclusion of the results.

Chapter Seven - Conclusions and Recommendations

This chapter was designed to provide the reader with a final discussion and conclusion for the research information that has been collected as well as to provide imitations of the study and recommendations for future research.

The dissertation does not provide a chapter titled ‘literature review‘, however in order to achieve the objectives set, a comprehensive literature review will be ongoing throughout the study to critically appraise issues and statements identified and gain the industries, work operatives and authors opinions of the progress, effectiveness and success of the CDM regulations within the construction industry. A wide range of key literature from sources such as research journals, refereed conferences, thesis, textbooks, reports, trade publications and newspaper articles on this research topic have been reviewed, analysed and appraised of their strengths and weaknesses.

Chapter Two:History of Health and Safety Legislation

This chapter intends to provide a background into the history of the UK’s health and safety legislation that has governed the construction industry and progressed over time. A particular focus on the CDM regulations 2007 will be provided, highlighting key roles and responsibilities as well as the necessary components of the regulations.

Factories Act 1961

The Factories Act 1961 was the starting point for parliamentary legislation on health and safety matters within the construction industry. Construction safety was first introduced into safety law in the Factories Act 1937, however further amendments and alterations were made in 1948 and 1959 before the final consolidating measure in 1961 to produce the final version known as the Factories Act 1961 (Holt, 2001). One of the main problems encountered with the Factories Act 1961 was that it only applied to premises defined within it, such as factories, and did not cover other workplaces such as schools or hospitals. This was the main reason for the introduction of the Health and Safety at Work etc. Act 1974. The relevant contents of the Factories Act 1961 have since been applied to other legislation with the remaining sections left out that are of little relevance to the construction industry (Holt, 2001).

Fire Precautions Act 1971 (Amended 1989)

The introduction of the fire precautions act 1971 ensured that all properties regulated by the Act should require a fire certificate that should only be authorised by the fire authority. These certificates were only awarded if the inspection of the property met the safety requirements outlined in the act itself. The requirements introduced by the Fire Precautions Act 1971 paid particular attention to the people working on the premises; this involved making them aware of the means of escape as well as ensuring that people on the premises have sufficient warning to evacuate in the event of a fire. The act did not just ensure that there was sufficient facilities in place to combat a fire but also ensured that personnel employed within the building received sufficient instruction and training in what to do if a fire ever occurred.

The Health and Safety at Work etc. Act 1971 (Amended 1974, 2002)

The introduction of the Health and Safety at Work etc. Act 1971 (HAS 1971) involved improvements to the Factories Act 1961. The Act’s obligations are based more on relationships between organizations and employees rather than on narrow definitions on types of premises as in the Factories Act 1961 (Holt, 2001). The Health and Safety at Work etc. Act 1971 is currently the centrepiece of legislation for all industries in Great Britain that provides the legal framework to achieve high standards in health and safety. The act was responsible for establishing the Health and Safety Commission (HSC) and the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) enabling them to propose health and safety regulations and approved codes of practice, they both however act in accordance with the secretary of state who must be informed of any proposed amendment or new regulations.

The Health and Safety Commission

The Health and Safety Commission and the Health and Safety Executive are responsible for the revision of the CDM Regulations. They were originally established as part of the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974 as two separate non-departmental public bodies (HSE, 2007). The HSC is appointed by the secretary of state whose main aim is to protect members of the UK against health and safety risks that may occur during working activities. In order to achieve this they must conduct and sponsor research; promote training; provide an information and advisory service; and submit proposals for new or revised regulations and approved codes of practices (HSC, 2007).

http://www.hse.gov.uk/aboutus/hsc/index.htm

The Health and Safety Executive

The role of the Health and Safety Executive is to assist the Health and Safety Commission to ensure that risks to people’s health and safety from work activities are properly controlled (HSE, 2007). The HSE is the main enforcement and advisory body to the HSC however for activities that involve lower risks such as offices then local authorities have equal powers to enforce (Holt, 2001).

http://www.hse.gov.uk/aboutus/hse/index.htm

The Health and Safety (First Aid) Regulations 1981

The health and safety (First Aid) regulations 1981 contained certain regulations that apply to construction sites and their workers. The act places vast amounts of responsibility on employers who are required to carry out an assessment of first aid needs which involves consideration of workplace hazards and risks, the size of the organisation and other relevant factors, to determine what first aid equipment, facilities and personnel should be provided. The location of these provisions should be made aware to all employees by the employer under regulation 4. Regulation 3 states that employers are responsible to ensure that adequate and appropriate equipment and facilities are available for enabling first aid to be rendered to an employee in the event of being injured or taken ill whilst at work (HMSO, 1981). It was also the responsibility of the employer, under regulation 3, to ensure that a competent person is available at all times to carry out first aid procedures in the event of an injury or illness occurring on the construction site.

http://www.hse.gov.uk/firstaid/legislation.htm#duties

Construction (Head Protection) Regulations 1989 (Amended 2002)

The Construction (Head Protection) Regulations 1989 came into force as of the 30th March 1990 in an attempt to prevent head injuries whilst working on construction sites. These regulations apply to all members of the workforce with the responsibility of the employer to provide each employee who is at work with suitable head protection, maintain it, and replace it wherever necessary as outlined in regulation 3. Under regulation 4 the employer, self employed or anyone who has authority over another person must ensure that suitable head protection is worn whenever reasonably practicable. In the event of self employed workers entering the site, they must wear and comply with all rules set by the site they are working on in order to comply with regulation 4. In order to comply with regulation 5, all rules established with the wearing of suitable head protection must be provided in writing and brought to the attention of any worker that may be affected by them.

http://www.opsi.gov.uk/si/si1989/Uksi_19892209_en_1.htm

The Electricity at Work Regulations 1989

The Electricity at Work Regulations 1989 first came into force on the 1st April 1990 in order to target the number of health and safety risks exposed to work operatives on construction sites involving working with electricity (HMSO, 1989). These regulations place responsibilities on both the employer and self-employed to comply with the provisions of these Regulations and the duty of the employees to co-operate with the rules set by the employer. Regulation 4 sets out standards to be achieved involving systems, work activities and protective equipment. This involves ensuring that all systems when carrying out operations should be adequate, used and maintained in an efficient manner in order to prevent, so far as is reasonably practicable, any risks of danger. Regulations 4 of this legislation also indicates that any equipment provided in order to protect work operatives carrying out tasks on or near electrical equipment must be appropriate, maintained in a satisfactory condition and used in the correct manner. http://www.opsi.gov.uk/si/si1989/Uksi_19890635_en_1.htm

The Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations 1992 (Amended 1999, 2006)

The Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations 1992 came into effect as of the 1st January 1993 which placed responsibility upon all employers and self-employed to carry out suitable and sufficient risks assessments with regard to health and safety issues on construction sites. This is to ensure that regulation 3 is achieved through informing employees of the potential issues that may affect, or potentially affect the health and safety of another person on site. The other most significant responsibility placed on the employer under regulation 11 is to ensure that they fulfil capability and training requirements set out in this legislation. This involves the employer making sure all employees are provided with adequate health and safety training upon recruitment or upon being exposed to new or increased risks such as the introduction of new work equipment.

http://www.opsi.gov.uk/si/si1992/Uksi_19922051_en_2.htm#mdiv1

The Manual Handling and Operations Regulations 1992 (Amended 2002)

The Manual Handling and Operations Regulations 1992 were first enforced on the 1st January 1993 which introduced the requirement for employers to avoid the need for their employees to undertake any manual handling operations at work which involves a risk of being injured, this is outlined in regulation 4. If manual handling and operations are undertaken then it is the responsibility of the employer to keep these occurrences to levels as low as possible as well as to provide employees with general indications where it is reasonably practicable to do so such as the weight of each load.

http://www.opsi.gov.uk/SI/si1992/Uksi_19922793_en_1.htm

The Personal Protective Equipment at Work Regulations 1992 (Amended 2002)

The Personal Protective Equipment at Work Regulations 1992 came into effect on the 1st January 1993 to try to ensure that Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) is provided and worn at all times if work operatives are presented with a situation that provide risks to their personal health and safety. Regulation 4 of the act states that it is the responsibility of the employer to ensure that PPE is provided to all employees whilst at work if they are likely to be exposed to health and safety risks, any self employed work operative must provide their own PPE once entering the construction site. Regulation 4 also emphasise that the PPE provided should be appropriate for the risks involved and should fit correctly or at least have a mechanism for adjustments that enable it to be worn correctly.

http://www.opsi.gov.uk/SI/si1992/Uksi_19922966_en_2.htm#mdiv1

The Workplace (Health, Safety and Welfare) Regulations 1992 (Revised 2002, Amended 2003)

The WHSW regulations 1992 came into force on the 1st January 1993. These regulations do not apply specifically to construction sites which means they have had no effect in reducing the number of accidents and fatalities throughout the construction industry.

The construction industry had two specific sets of regulations that were industry-specific before the introduction of the CDM regulations 2007 as these regulations incorporated both of them. These were known as the Construction (Health, Safety and Welfare) Regulations 1996 and the Construction (Design and Management) Regulations 1994 which are described in more detail below:

Construction (Design and Management) Regulations 1994 (Amended 2007)

The CDM regulations 1994 first came into force on the 31st March 1995 with a view to further reducing the number of accidents occurring within the construction industry (Joyce, 2001). The main aims of the regulations were to reduce the regular occurrence of accidents and ill health arising from construction work (Percy, 2002). The main influence these regulation had on the construction industry was that it shared responsibility of health and safety issues during construction work between all parties and not purely the responsibility of the contractor (Joyce 2001). These regulations were in place for 12 years but have recently been amended and are now known as the CDM regulations 2007. The reasons for the amendments were due a number of problems encountered with the CDM regulations 1994 such as the ongoing debate about there effectiveness, high level of unnecessary bureaucracy, lack of clarity and regulations that were subject to misinterpretation throughout their enforcement (Joyce, 2001). The CDM regulations 2007 intend to take on board the research into these problems and readdress the main criticisms in order to improve the effectiveness within the industry. The CDM regulations 2007 are discussed further in section 6.0.

Reports of Injuries, Diseases and Dangerous Occurrences Regulations (RIDDOR) 1995

The Control of Noise at Work Regulations 2005

The Control of Noise at Work Regulations 2005 came into force as of the 6th April 2006. These regulations have an effect with a view to protecting workers against the potential risks to their personal H&S arising from exposure to noise at work (HMSO, 2005). It is the responsibility of the employer under regulation 5 to provide a risk assessment to assess the potential risks of exposure to noise an employee may face when carrying out work on site, if exposure is likely to occur then where possible it should be eliminated at the source or reduced to nose levels as low as possible in order to comply with these regulations. In order to support regulation 5, regulation 7 sets out to ensure that the employer must provide personal hearing protection to any employee who is exposed to high noise levels in order to protect their health and safety, this must be supported with the use of appropriate safety signs in order to inform work operatives of an area that is subject to high noise levels. Regulations 9 and 10 respectively are provided to ensure that if employees are exposed to high levels of noise then the employer must ensure that they are placed under suitable health surveillance as well as provide them with suitable and sufficient information, instruction and training in order to carry out their tasks efficiently (HMSO, 2005).

Construction (Health, Safety and Welfare) Regulations 1996

The CHSWR 1996 were enforced as of the 2nd September 1996 which replaced the Construction (General Provisions) Regulations 1961, the Construction (Health and Welfare) Regulations 1966 and the Construction (Working Places) Regulations 1966, which were all revoked (Holt, 2001). These regulations were introduced as the construction equivalent of the Workplace (Health, Safety and Welfare) Regulations 1992 as they do not apply to constructions sites (Holt, 2001). The CHSW Regulations 1996 were created by the HSC which represented the UK’s implementation of Annexe IV of the Temporary and Mobile Construction Sites Directive (Clarke, 1999). Before the introduction of the CDM regulations 2007, the CHSW regulations 1996 applied to all construction work and along with the CDM regulations 1994, they provided a life cycle of health and safety standards throughout the entirety of construction projects. This was achieved as both these sets of regulations applied to different aspects of construction work which meant there was no overlapping of each legislation between the two sets of regulations. The CHSW 1996 applied to workers carrying out construction site work where as the CDM regulations 1994 applied to those in the design and management process.

Health and Safety (Safety Signs and Signals) Regulations 1996

The Health and Safety (Safety Signs and Signals) Regulations 1996 were first enforced on the 1st April 1996, they were introduced as a set of regulations to notify the construction industry of the minimum requirements for the provision of safety signs at work. This act complies with the MHSW regulations 1992 as an employer must provide appropriate safety signs if they feel that the risk assessment made as a requirement of the MHSW 1992 regulations cannot adequately reduce risks to employees after adopting appropriate techniques for collective protection, and measures, methods or procedures used in the organisation of work. These signs are used to warn or instruct employees of the nature of potential risks they may face and inform the employees of the appropriate measures to be taken to protect against them. This act also introduces a standardised system of safety signs; this enables workers to be able to travel from different construction sites and not face the problem of different meanings for different signs. In order to comply with regulation 5; employers must ensure that each of their employees receives suitable and sufficient instruction and training in the meaning of safety signs and the measures to be taken in connection with safety signs.

http://www.opsi.gov.uk/si/si1996/Uksi_19960341_en_1.htm

Control of Substances Hazardous to Health (COSHH) Regulations 2002

The COSHH regulations 2002 were introduced to the construction industry on the 21st November 2002, this legislation placed responsibility upon employers to ensure that exposure to substances hazardous to health is either prevented or, if not reasonably practicable, adequately controlled (HMSO, 2002). The employer should prevent from carrying out work that may potentially expose an employee to substances hazardous to health unless they have carried out appropriate risk assessments and carried out the suitable processes in order to comply with these regulations, and safeguard workers on site. Regulations 12 of the regulations states that an employer should provide employees with suitable and sufficient information, instruction and traini

 

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