Health & Safety in fitout projects

Not the most interesting of subjects, but nevertheless, it is this important issue of health & safety that makes the UK construction industry one of the safest in the world. Fatalities have halved in the last two decades and injuries have also seen a significant decrease. However, there are still a number of accidents and injuries in the construction sector. Improvements in health and safety can still be made so let’s share a few tips on how to make fitout projects much safer. Remember these factors apply to both contractors and everyone else alike.

Quick tips for improving safety

  • Assemble and install equipment correctly.
  • Keep all equipment well maintained.
  • Reduce the need for working at height.
  • Keep work areas clear of debris.
  • Store all construction materials safely.
  • Ensure all construction staff wear the appropriate protective equipment
  • Train employees in health and safety and risk assessment procedures. Ensure others are aware of this also.
  • Perform risk assessments for all workplace tasks.
  • Be aware of legislation such as The Health and Safety at Work Act 1974, The Construction (Design and management) Regulations 1994 and The Work at Height Regulations 2005.

Most common Health and Safety risks that can be avoided.
The are a number of risks involved with a fitout project. Being aware of what the most common are will help in avoiding them. Working at height is a very significant risk with any construction project. While not necessarily an issue with a fitout project, it is still important enough to get a mention. In fact, the most common cause of construction site fatalities involve falls from height. If it can’t be avoided, ensure all staff wear the right protective equipment and are comprehensively trained. In a fitout project, a group of other risks are common. This group includes slips, trips and falls. During the fitout it’s important to ensure the safety of employees and members of the public by sectioning off construction areas and keeping materials and equipment packed away when not in use. Noise can be a big hazard in the construction industry. Excessive and repetitive noises can severely damage hearing as well as distract people in the vicinity. If the fitout project is a serious one there will be the risk of collapse. Consider closing the premises while the fitout is taking place. If the building being refitted is an old one, there may be a danger of asbestos – thus carrying additional risks. Anyone working at the site needs to be made aware of its locations and also be aware of the steps to take is it is uncovered. During the fitout, there may well be a lot of dust and debris flying around. Provide PPE equipment and make sure everyone knows how to use it correctly. The number may be small, but construction workers are putting themselves at risk of electrocution during refurbishment work. Only allow qualified professional electricians to undertake electrical work.

Managing the risks during a fitout project is not the easiest of tasks. However, it is possible when there is a system in place and those involved are aware of the risks involved. Remember that risks apply to workers aswell as visitors / ordinary people and care should be taken to minimise dangerous situations for all.

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