Construction Health and Safety Consultancy and CDM Adviser Services

Builders! Are You at Risk from These Deadly Workplace Hazards?
Posted by David Cant on June 9, 2014

Construction Health and Safety ConsultantsKnowing where danger lies is half the job of avoiding accidents on a construction site.

With excavation holes, ladders, steps, scaffolding, electricity and heavy equipment all over the place, your site is a hotbed for potential accidents.  Even deadly ones.

Taking proper care makes all the difference.  And to help you, here are the six most common construction site hazards and how to keep them at bay.

1.     Falls from Scaffolding or Fixed Ladders

The number one construction site hazard – with over 50% of accidents – is builders falling from ladders over 20 feet or scaffolding over 6 feet high.

To reduce the risk, stay well clear of unstable ladders and take care to keep scaffolding and ladder steps free of anything you could slip on or trip over.  A solid fall protection program will make builders well aware of such risks and how to prevent them. So get one in place.

2.     Trenching and Excavating

This was found to be the most dangerous operation on a construction site. And one that often leads to fatalities.  The primary hazard here is injury from collapse of a trench or excavation wall.

So in addition to following the correct safety standards and wearing the right protective gear, good soil analysis is a must. As well as determining the correct sloping, benching and shoring methods.

3.     Stairways and Ladder Injuries

While leading to less fatalities, stairway and ladder accidents serious enough to put a worker on sick leave are the most common in construction sites.

Again, it’s key to clear both stairways and ladders from potentially hazardous obstacles. And to keep them clear. Make sure you follow the correct UK guidance for stairs and ladder safety.

4.     Electrical Accidents

This hazard is of greatest threat to electrical engineers and electricians on a construction site, but also poses a threat to any builder.  When dealing with electricity, following the correct UK precautionary procedure is essential. With the highest quality of guarding, insulation, and distance-regulation.

5.     Unstable Scaffolding

Apart from general falls due to slips and trips, unstable scaffolding causes many dangerous accidents, with one in five leading to fatality.

Scaffolding can be unstable because of improper setup, loss of a load, damaged components, suspended materials striking it, or electrical shocks running through the scaffolding.

Builders setting up or taking down scaffolding are at greatest risk, and sticking to the health and safety best practices can be a life-saver (literally).  Particularly when using bracing and guardrails.

6.     Heavy Construction Equipment

Last but not least, accidents due to careless use of heavy construction equipment are unfortunately all too common.  And they can happen in a multitude of different ways.

Ground workers are at the greatest risk, of being struck or crushed by vehicles changing direction or backing up.  Or from being struck by equipment falling from buckets, backhoes or any vehicle carrying a load.

Also, improperly set brakes often lead to mechanics getting injured, and rollovers can lead to vehicle operators getting seriously hurt too.

Like always, careful following of safety requirements is the secret to avoiding these workplace accidents.

What about you?

Do you work on a building site?
Have you or your workmates been in any precarious situations or on-site accidents like these?
What other crucial construction site hazards have we left out?

Leave your thoughts, stories and comments below right now.


David Cant is a Chartered Safety and Health Practitioner extraordinaire. He has a wealth of Industry experience and is the MD of Veritas Consulting. David also Blogs about Health and Safety here Health and Safety Consultants

His aim is to flavour Health and Safety with integrity, served with a side of humour You can find David on - Twitter and Google also Linkedin

This post has been filed in: Construction Health and Safety


  1. June 22, 2014 at 5:23 pm


    Everyone in your list is of the upmost importance, but i think No.1 should be getting people trained and educated properly in the dangers and not just a 40 minute touch screen test and everyone believing that is sufficient.

    The death and accident rates in the Uk Construction Industry show us that we all need more education and not just for people in suits. The dangers are faced mainly by the Tradesmen and this is the place that needs targeting.

    I was a tradesmen working on-site for over 25 years and have never had any H&S managers ask me what i think and then been seen to act upon this.

    Consultation with the whole team should be a priority and not just those with clean boots. Happy to tell the truth if anyone is genuinely interested, which i very much doubt.

    Cynicism rules every Uk Construction site today!

    • June 24, 2014 at 8:15 am

      Hi Mark Thank you for your comments.

      I agree, Consultation and Communication is key. Getting the workforce on board makes a huge different in terms of health and safety performance – in some cases it’s getting better but still there is much to do by employers.

  2. July 11, 2014 at 10:54 am

    Excellent article, not to forget the most simple one: Slips and Trips.

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