Safety week launched as companies embed COVID-19 measures

The Construction Industry Federation (CIF) has launched its annual safety campaign as the country moves to Level 5.

Construction safety week will run from Monday to Friday 19-23 October and each day is themed to focus on key safety issues on construction sites across Ireland starting with promoting mental wellbeing.

Director General Tom Parlon said: “The construction industry has recognised the importance of safety for decades and rates of accidents and fatalities have been driven down recently despite a large increase in activity since the recovery began. There are over 147,000 people employed in the industry directly with a further 50,000 indirect and our fatality rates average for 5 years is 0.01%. One death or accident is one too many so every year, we devote this week to resetting, refreshing and refocusing our workforce on promoting safety on site. This year is particularly important as COVID-19 has fundamentally altered the way in which we operate. Measures like social distancing have been adopted and adapted on sites where workers have for years been told to work closely together and look out for each other. However, our industry and our workforces have responded brilliantly and inculcated COVID-19-safety measures on sites, offsite and on the way to sites.

“Since 28 March the CIF has worked tirelessly to promote the new safety guidelines from the HSE pertaining to COVID-19. The CIF’s Standard Operating Procedure has now been downloaded over 20,000 times and our COVID-19 Compliance Online induction has been completed by over 200,000 people. It’s acknowledged that the incidence of COVID-19 on sites has been very low due to these efforts.

“We recognise that the industry is privileged to remain operational during these difficult times and we accept that it’s a huge responsibility. We’re taking this safety week to reinforce COVID-19 safety measures but to also highlight other safety issues such as heights, mental health and equipment usage amongst other issues. There are still too many accidents in construction concentrated amongst the thousands of micro-enterprises/sole traders and on non-traditional sites including quarries and self-renovations. We hope that safety week helps us reach this audience and empower them to operate safely and take necessary precautions.

“2020 is a difficult year for everyone in all walks of life. In a construction context, to add to the normal complexities of managing health and safety issues, there is now the added complication of managing COVID-19. While the danger posed by this disease is always present, we must not lose sight of the dangers posed by the day to day operations of a construction site and the vigilance and planning needed to maintain safety. A key fact to remember for all working in this industry is that 11 people have lost their lives so far in 2020 from accidents.”

Construction Safety Week is a great opportunity for companies to reflect on all aspects of safety, health and wellbeing and promote its importance throughout the workforce.

Construction Safety Week is an initiative of the Construction Safety Partnership Advisory Committee (CSPAC). This is a grouping of all the main stakeholders in the construction sector in Ireland – Employers, Unions, State Bodies (in conjunction with the Health & Safety Authority) and Professional Bodies. The collective objective is to continue to highlight the issues of health and safety in the Irish construction industry and to drive continual improvement. Good health and safety depend on co-operation between all parties on a project – from client to designers and contractors – everyone’s safety depends on their co-workers or the person working beside you or above you.

Construction Safety Week comes as the Government confirmed construction will continue to operate under the strictest safety procedures as the new restrictions are imposed.

Shane Dempsey, CIF Director of Communications said: “This is an awesome responsibility. Construction companies, and employees will now redouble efforts to deliver housing and critical infrastructure for the economy in the safest possible manner. Remaining open during Level 5 is testament to the incredible efforts over the past five months in keeping the incidence of COVID-19 to a minimum on construction sites.

“This week is Construction Safety Week and we will use this opportunity to remind everyone in the industry about the importance of safety generally and in terms of combatting COVID-19. It is a privilege to keep operating when so many other sectors face unfortunate restrictions. Construction companies and employees will adopt any measure required to protect themselves, their families and the wider community.

“We would ask members of the public to work with us as we continue to operate in this difficult environment. Our members and employees are reporting increasing levels of pressure as they adapt to existing safety challenges.

“I would like to assure everyone that the industry is doing its utmost to maintain essential economic activity whilst keeping safe.”

Full details of Construction Safety Week are available here: