First Aid for construction workers: what are the minimum requirements?


In the construction industry, as with all other workplaces, there is a requirement for companies to provide first aid arrangements for their employees.

But in contrast to many other sectors the construction sector has some special features and unique scenarios that mean that first aid provision needs to be considered in more depth than for example a typical office, school or warehouse.

Not only are those in the construction industry working in an ever changing environment which in itself increases the risk of an accident occurring, but also the work involved in construction often poses a risk even on the best managed sites.

Examples include:

  •  working at heights on ladders, scaffolds, roofs and cranes,
  •  working with machinery such as cranes, hoists, mixers, drills, cherry-pickers and power tools,
  •  handling caustic chemicals such as cement and solvents.

 

If you have worked in construction in the last few years or even just observed a construction site in your neighbourhood or near your own workplace you will have noticed how much safer and better managed the industry has become over the last few years. Indeed the figures provided by the HSE (Health and Safety Executive) back this up with the rate of injuries in the sector dropping by more than three quarters since the mid-1980s and continuing to show marked improvement from 2005 to date.

However the construction sector remains by its very nature a higher risk industry and this is reflected in the fact that it accounts for approx 5% off the total UK workforce but over 6% of the reported workplace injuries.

As such the location of first aiders and first aid equipment needs to be considered on the basis that all construction sites fall into the higher risk category and will thus need additional provision compared with other industries.

Here are some factors to consider when assessing the first aid needs of your workplace in the construction industry:

1. Number of workers on site –

This will probably the most important factor in deciding the total number of first aiders you need and their location. As you might have guessed the more people you have the more first aiders you will need. You will also have to ensure that the people you select as first aiders are able to assist in an emergency so they’ll not only have to be located near enough to a potential casualty but also be in roles which enable them to safely stop what they are doing and assist. You might want to consider a minimum ratio of one fully qualified first aider (3-day First Aid at Work Course) per 50 people (or part thereof).

2. Specific hazards at your site –

Remember that although the construction sector is by its nature a higher risk industry, you’ll need to consider if there are any specific hazards at your site such as people working in confined spaces which could increase the need for first aiders to be provided.

3. Previous incidents at the site/s –

Although, as the adverts say, past performance is guarantee of future performance, your records of injuries/illnesses which needed first aid can act as a guide to what sort of level of provision you need.

4. Workforce –

We all know that inexperienced drivers are more likely to be involved in a road traffic accident (even if borrowing their parents’ car – sorry Mum !). The same holds true for workplace accidents, those with little or no experience are much more likely to have an accident. So you will need to consider your overall number of new or inexperienced workers you have on site, as well as their locations and overall ratio of newbies to old hands.

5. CDM (Construction Design and Management) –

Whether you are working for a client, a principle contractor, another contractor, sub-contractor or a co-ordinator you’ll need to make sure that you are complying with the Construction (Design and Management) Regulations 2007. These apply to any project lasting more than 30 days or involving 500 person-days of construction work and place obligations all on involved in the construction process. So remember it might not just be your own workforce you need to evaluate and plan for in terms of fist aider. You might also find that as the project progresses the nature of the work and size of the workforce will fluctuate.

 

Remember nothing can replace the value to your company and workforce of having properly trained first aiders.

Check out our HSE Approved qualifications on offer with the 3 day First Aid at Work course.

 

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