HSE launches new construction campaign


The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) has launched a new communications campaign ‘Work Right Construction. Your health. Your future’, to raise awareness of the risks when moving and handling materials on site and provide advice for employers and workers.

Moving and handling heavy or bulky objects on construction sites was needlessly harming the health of tens of thousands of workers every year, according to the HSE. From this month, HSE inspectors will be carrying out  inspections of construction sites, focusing on the health risks of moving and handling materials on site.

Inspections in 2022 found widespread methods that can protect workers such as the use of mechanical equipment to handle large glazing panes, using small inexpensive air bags to help to position heavy doors when being installed and the use of all-terrain pallet trucks to move blocks and brick-lifters to carry bricks around site, it said.

However, inspectors also found many examples of poor practice, some of which resulted in enforcement action. This included a worker lifting an 80kg kerb on his own without any assistance from machinery, lifting aids or colleagues, and a 110kg floor saw that had to be moved into and out of a work van by two operatives at a street works site.

The law requires employers to control the risks of ill health of their workers, which includes pain in muscles, bones, joints and nerves that can develop over time, known as musculoskeletal disorders (MSDs).

However, in the most recent period an estimated 42,000 people in the construction industry suffered from a work-related musculoskeletal disorder, which can cause years of agonising aches and pains. This amounts to 53% of all ill health in the construction sector.

Before work starts, moving and handling risks should be considered and prevented where possible at the design stage. Once on site, employers should talk to workers about controlling existing risks and make sure appropriate measures are in place, such as the right training, aids and equipment, a statement said.

Matt Birtles, principal ergonomist at HSE, said: “It is important that the issue of manual handling is not downplayed. Serious aches, pains and strains should not be accepted as routine when working in construction.

“These can dramatically affect every part of someone’s life, with sufferers struggling to get themselves dressed and undressed, and unable to pick up their children or grandchildren.

“The culture of a site may mean many people feel uncomfortable talking about these issues but if your back has gone or if you’re in agony whenever you move your arms, measures need to be put in place to address the causes.”

No posts to display