CONSTRUCTION RISK ALERT: WHAT CAN YOU DO TO PROTECT YOUR TEAM FROM INCREASED ACCIDENTS THIS WEEK?25 October 2019
Lucion Consulting’s Head of CDM Services, Senior Consultant Christian McCale, advises on preventative measures employers can take to resist the effects of the clocks changing from British Summer Time to Greenwich Mean Time.
Is the fact of the clocks going back a risk?
It is difficult to believe that the clocks changing by 1 hour in late October would have such an impact. The increase in traffic accidents following the change from British Summer Time, back to Greenwich Mean Time is well known, but many accidents reported include factors such as:
- Operatives struck by vehicles due to poor visibility;
- Slips, trips and falls in wet or icy conditions;
- Road accidents following poor road conditions;
- Issues relating to working in cold conditions;
- Operatives being struck from falling material.
Contractors are encouraged to plan in order to mitigate these foreseeable risks.
Provide your operatives with a toolbox talk. With the change in clocks comes changes in sleep patterns which lead to tiredness and fatigue. When operatives are less alert on the job, this is when accidents can occur.
The clock change means the sun setting earlier and becoming dusk during the working hours for many. It is often considered when the clocks go back that people gain an extra hour in bed, but do they compensate and go to bed that extra hour earlier? Unlikely.
Make provision on your site now for festoon lighting before time catches up with you and it is dark on-site before you know it. Ensure that all access and egress routes are adequately lit. Provide task lighting for each gang undertaking trades on site. You don’t want situations of insufficient lighting to allow workers to continue working, thus having to leave earlier each day. When providing lighting on-site, be sure to consider trailing cables. Slips, trips and falls increase with poor visibility. Try to sling cables above head height.
Personal Protective Equipment (PPE)
Do your workers have high vis jackets as opposed to vests? Do they have hi-vis waterproof over trousers as opposed to cotton trousers? Providing operatives with suitable PPE now before conditions becoming more wintery on-site will prevent unnecessary risk.
It is a requirement under the Construction (Design and Management) Regulations 2015 that welfare provision includes changing facilities and drying rooms. Ensure that these facilities are available on-site and sufficient for the amount of labour you have on-site. Encourage operatives to use the facilities. Working in wet socks and boots over time can lead to trench foot. Remind your teams to change socks whenever they become damp and ensure your boots are waterproof and replace them if they are damaged and let in water.
Consider gloves for work activities to warm the hands. Those working with vibrating equipment are more at risk of hand-arm vibration health effects and injury during the cold. The plan works requiring the use of vibration tools. Note trigger length times for the activity being undertaken, ensure job rotation is being managed, encourage those about to use vibrating equipment to have a cup of tea before the task, warming their hands on the mug and to wear gloves to keep their hands warm.
You can see a theme running relating the clocks going back to winter conditions increasing. As the weather worsens, take precautions for potential windy conditions and flooding. To reduce the risk of being struck by objects, ensure material is covered and held down, consider adjacent trees and weather branches require cutting back, ensure that hoarding and signboards have been designed in accordance with BS5975 considering wind loads (even snow loads). Plan lifting works considering weather forecasts and postpones cranes if the excessive wind is likely. Have a stock of sandbags on-site to prevent potential flooding. Again, plan excavation works considering weather forecasts for excessive rainfall.
Traffic and Pedestrians
The wet weather will make the unmade ground more slippy underfoot, so consider placing stone down on access routes and site entrances. This time of year impacts road traffic significantly, so don’t make conditions worse for road users with mud migrating from your site onto adjacent roads. Put in place wheel wash facilities for construction traffic and consider a more regular routine of road sweeping outside of your site. Order a stock of grit to keep on-site for icy mornings. A great opportunity for considerate contractors is to grit neighbouring pathways to your site.
Driving is a significant risk within most businesses, so alertness of drivers is paramount. Reinforce the first point we made in this article regarding sleep and encourage vehicle checks to ensure that they are winter-ready with tyres in good condition, all lights fully working, antifreeze and window wash topped up and consider a blanket to be kept in the boot for potential breakdowns. Frind out more about how Lucion Managing Occupational Road Risk (MORR): RoSPA Gold Fleet Safety Awards (MORR).
As the saying goes ‘spring forward, fall back'. Don’t let that be literal and plan for the clock change.
Lucion Consulting: https://www.lucionservices.com/companies/lucion-consulting/
Temporary Works Forum, BS 5975: 2019: https://www.twforum.org.uk/blogs/david-thomas/2019/06/11/bs-5975-2019-new-edition
Managing Occupational Road Risk: https://www.lucionservices.com/managing-occupational-road-risk/
Lucion Services CDM Services: https://www.lucionservices.com/service_group/construction-and-cdm/
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