Safety levels improving in Construction

The Health and Safety Authority reports that the construction industry is on track to have the lowest recorded workplace fatalities this year, with two recorded deaths in 2019 and 164 non-fatal workplace incidents in construction from January to June 2019.

These numbers are declining year on year, with 3 fatalities and 278 non-fatal incidents recorded by the HSA during the same period in 2018.

This trend has been lead by construction companies adopting behavioural, technological and psychological best-practice to embed safety on thousands of sites around the country.

Dermot Carey, Director, Safety & Training CIF said: “The construction industry is striving to make 2019 the year with the lowest recorded work fatalities. Any fatality is one too many. Every incident and fatality is poured over by construction companies to elicit learnings that are shared across the industry to improve safety.”

“The research will show that the moment you feel safe on site is the moment you can become complacent, so construction companies will constantly remind workers through a range of channels and practices to think about safety and act safely. Signs, warnings, toolbox talks, even accident re-enactments with actors are used to constantly remind workers of the importance of safety. At an industry level, we will run our annual Safety Week campaign to drive home the safety message,” said Dermot.

The Construction Industry Federation is officially launching Construction Safety Week 2019 which will run from 21st – 25th October. All 47,000 construction companies in the country are invited to participate and there’ll be a national ‘Stand Down for Safety’ to start safety week on sites across the country.

The CIF have teamed up with Rory O’Connor, more commonly known as Rory’s Stories, who has been conducting talks to construction workers around the country. Rory is very vocal about both physical on-site safety as well as awareness around mental health.”

Rory O’Connor, CIF Safety Ambassador said: “Worker’s mental health is a silent safety issue for construction workers. There’s over 145,000 people working in the industry and the vast majority of these are men aged between 20-50.

I believe it’s really important that they feel they can talk about mental health on site. I do believe mental health problems can lead to physical accidents on site by people not being in the right frame of mind.

I’ve been doing lots of Toolbox Talks about safety and mental health around the country and these have gotten a great response. I’ve had people come up to me after the talks and tell me their own stories, as well as messages on social media from people talking about their own stories, thankful that I am raising awareness of looking after your mental health. I do believe the stigma is starting to breakdown, but people need to understand that it is okay to talk about it with each other. When people think of safety on construction sites or in the construction industry, they think of hard hats, high vis jackets, glasses and gloves, but no one actually thinks about the person’s own mental health, which is obviously hidden to everyone. The key message we want to spread is of positive mental health and to let construction workers know it is okay not to feel okay. It’s perfectly acceptable to open up and ask for help.”

Physical injury and mental health awareness are not the only issues that CIF are highlighting. Those spending prolonged periods of time outdoors are at risk of developing skin cancer, with almost 90% of skin cancer cases in the construction industry preventable. For this reason, the Construction Industry Federation (CIF) and the Irish Cancer Society have joined forces to raise awareness of the inherent health risks associated with exposure of unprotected skin to the sun.

The CIF’s Safety Week 2019 takes place from October 21st to 25th this year. This coincides with European Safety Week, the theme of which is ‘Healthy Workplaces Manage Dangerous Substances’. This year’s CIF Safety Week themes are:

1. Mental Health and Wellbeing in Construction

2. Vehicle Risk & Safety in Lifting

3. Working Safely with Electricity

4. Working Safely at Height

5. Hazardous Substances

Thousands of construction workers will participate in safety related activities for the duration of the week.

You can view the HSA Construction Statistics report here.