deaths and injuries in the UK construction industry

Deaths and injuries in the UK construction industry are unfortunately a common occurrence

Last year there were 111 fatalities and over 2000 life changing injuries. The number of minor injuries are too high to count

Anyone who is involved in refurb /development projects, HMO’s or new builds are part of the construction industry.

If you are carrying out these projects on a building that is not your own home then you are classed as being involved in commercial activity

As a commercial client you now have an obligation for health and safety on your projects under the CDM Regulations 2015

What does CDM stand for?

It stands for construction, design, management. This means that when a project is being planned, thought must be given to the impact of every activity on the health and safety of everyone involved  at every stage of the project as well as people not directly involved but who could also be affected by it

Does it only affect large construction projects

The answer is no. Regardless of the size somebody must take legal responsibility for health and safety no matter how small the project

Why does it affect small refurbs and not only large construction projects?

Many people think large construction projects are more dangerous then smaller ones. However it is a fact that quite often they are a lot safer. Although there is a larger workforce and more activities going on, these projects are run by experienced professionals. Everyone involved will have had safety training before being allowed on the site. There will be a percentage of the project cost set aside specifically for health and safety. There will be highly qualified safety professionals actively monitoring health and safety on site. The workers involved will be used to operating in a safety first culture

What makes small refurbs dangerous?

Quite often they are run by inexperienced people. Many people involved in refurb projects have no construction industry background. They will not know how to run a safe construction site.They have no understanding of the potential dangers involved. Health and safety will not have been included in their budget. They will not be able to recognise unsafe behaviour. A lot of them have no experience working with builders and may not feel confident in challenging unsafe behaviour. They will just assume the builders will work safely

Surely the builders will work safely?

Unfortunately that is not always the case. Many studies have been done on the subject of why do people work unsafely ? There are numerous reasons for this. If someone has been working unsafely for years and been lucky enough not to have an accident , then it is very hard to get them to change their ways. Many builders have spent their life working on small projects and peoples houses. As a result they will not have  been exposed to the safety culture of big sites. Other factors can be:

  • Fatigue
  • Tight budgets
  • Pricework
  • Lack of supervision
  • No fear of consequences from Management

What can an inexperienced developer do?

The first thing is to visit the HSE website and read up about CDM here .There are many companies who specialise in CDM for the construction industry. They will prepare a site safety plan for your project and will make periodic site visits to monitor if people are working safely. Always remember that a well organised tidy site is a safe site. Make it clear to your builder before work starts that you expect health and safety to be a priority


If you would like any advice about health and safety or CDM please contact us here . We have decades of experience on the biggest construction projects in the UK and abroad. This is one of the many services we offer

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