While injury and fatality rates have decreased significantly over the last 20 years, the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) report that the Construction industry still accounts for 31% of all fatal injuries to employees and 10% of all reported injuries in the UK.
A common area of injury is through the use of machinery or hand tools, imagine that when striking a nail with a hammer, part of the hammer’s handle breaks off and hits an employee in the eye.
Not only could such an accident cause you to lose a valuable worker for several weeks, you could also face a claim for temporary or permanent damage to the eye leading to claims under the employers liability section of your Construction Insurance policy.
Site Safety Management Reduces Risk
Power or hand tools are such a common part of the job for most tradesman and it is all too easy to take them for granted. However, their use can be extremely hazardous if the right safety procedures are not followed. To keep yourself and your employees’ safe, follow these basic rules:
#1 Keep all tools in good condition with regular maintenance.
- If a wooden handle on a tool is loose, splintered or cracked, the head can fly off.
- If impact tools such as chisels, wedges or drift pins have mushroomed heads, they can shatter on impact.
#2 Select the right tool for the job.
- If a chisel is used as a screwdriver, there is a danger of the tip flying off.
- Each job calls for a specific tool. Never deviate.
#3 Monitor and examine tools regularly and never use damaged tools.
- Adjustable spanners must not be used when the jaws are sprung; they can slip and lead to injury.
- Tools used for cutting edges must be sharp. Dull tools can be more hazardous as you must press harder when using them.
#4 Operate tools in accordance to the manufacturer’s instructions.
- Iron or steel tools produce sparks that can ignite flammable substances. Check for spark-resistant tools made of alternative materials when you are around flammable gases, volatile liquids or other explosive materials.
- When using sharp tools, direct the tools away from aisle areas and away from other employees working close to you.
- Ensure that each employee receives adequate training and supervision on how to operate tools correctly and safely.
#5 Use the right personal protective equipment.
- Loose clothing, ties or jewellery should never be worn when using hand or power tools.
#6 Store and transport the tools properly and safely.
- Put the tool away as soon as you have finished with it. Leaving the tool in a pathway presents a tripping and impalement hazard.
- Transport tools in a toolbox or trolley or carry them in a tool belt. Never carry pointed tools in your pocket.
- Never throw tools to another employee. Always pass them with the handle towards the receiver.
- Use a bucket or bag for lifting or lowering tools from one level to another.
- When carrying a tool on your shoulders, pay attention to clearances and other workers.
Training and Risk Management is Critical
As a specialist Construction firm or tradesman, you have a duty of care to protect members of the public, customers and other site visitors as well as your employees. The key to reducing risk and managing Employers and insynlosses is the development and management of a robust risk management programme.
Risk Assessment Plan
All full time and temporary employees (including labour only sub-contractors) should receive adequate training and supervision in the use of plant, tools and machinery. The risk management plan should include:
- Regular inspection of all tools and suitability assessment for specific tasks.
- Guidelines on workwear.
- Use of tools at height.
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