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Construction Site Safety - History of Site and Previous/Current Use


Before starting any construction work, it is important that a site survey takes place to determine if any risks or hazards are present from the current condition, as well as finding out the history and any previous usage of the site which could have left behind hidden dangers. These two issues are discussed in more detail in the paragraphs below.

Current Use

If the planned construction work is taking place on a site which is already used by other businesses or private dwellings in close proximity (as opposed to an abandoned or greenfield/undeveloped plot), then precautions will need to be taken to ensure the health and safety of the public, such as the erection of a secure perimeter fence to keep people from accidental or deliberately gaining access to where work is taking place (particularly children), and being aware of traffic and pedestrians moving about on the access roads to the area.

Even plots of land which have never been built on before will have potential hazards which need to be considered. The land may be prone to flooding, which could not only damage machinery, but will make the ground soft which will make it particularly difficult for construction vehicles to gain traction, and could lead to skids, slides and collisions which may injure the driver and those nearby.

History/Previous Use

Derelict or abandoned sites are usually more hazardous than sites that are currently in use, as many dangers may be hidden and not known about, which is why it is so important to perform a survey and obtain a good understanding of the site and any buildings currently there.

Not only could there be substances harmful to health present such as asbestos which needs to be taken into account before any demolition or renovation work on the building, but the abandoned premises may contain hazardous sharp items such as discarded drug needles or broken glass if people were able to gain access to the premises.

It is likely that the building was or still is connected to services such as electric and sewer systems, so pipes and cables need to be located to avoid accidental damage to these which would not only need to be repaired, but could cause serious illness, injury or death to workers. Uncovered manholes or drains may also be present on the site which a person could fall down.


Preparation and effective planning are key components of health and safety. Accident prevention is much more preferable to reacting to a situation when it is too late and a person has already been injured or killed, and a mixture of common sense and comprehensive health and safety training for workers can help to create a safe working environment.

When it comes to building sites, construction safety courses such as the SMSTS, SSSTS or NEBOSH Construction Certificate courses cover a variety of issues including COSHH substances, movement of people and vehicles around site, fire risks, working at height, excavation work, demolition, risk assessments and many more. To see exactly what is included on the syllabus of each, please use the "Health & Safety" drop-down at the top of the page to view the course outlines. Alternatively, please call us on 0844 800 3295 or contact us online to speak with one of our construction health and safety course advisors.

Selected Courses

Please see below for a selection of health and safety courses and qualifications which you may be interested in:

NEBOSH National Diploma in Occupational Health and Safety

The NEBOSH National Diploma in Occupational Health and Safety is the flagship NEBOSH qualification, and is the first UK vocational qualification to be developed specifically for health and safety professionals.

The NEBOSH National Diploma provides the core health and safety knowledge (transferable across industry, commerce and the public sector) which, combined with understanding and appropriate application, underpins the competent performance of an occupational health and safety practitioner.

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NEBOSH National General Certificate in Occupational Health and Safety

The NEBOSH General Certificate is one of the most popular and widely-held health and safety qualifications in the UK. It is intended to be taken by managers, supervisors and any other employees who require an understanding of general health and safety issues.

The NEBOSH General Certificate covers the main legal requirements for health and safety in the UK, along with the identification and control of workplace hazards, and the practical application of this knowledge. The general content of the NEBOSH General Certificate syllabus means it is suitable and relevant for those working in virtually any industry, and is often used as a solid foundation for those going on to further study and specialising in a particular area such as construction site health and safety or fire safety.

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IOSH Managing Safely Course

The IOSH Managing Safely course is designed for managers and supervisors of organisations in virtually all industry sectors, in order to give them all they need to know to effectively manage health and safety in the workplace.

Recently updated, the new high impact programme covers key health and safety issues, and includes references to international case studies.

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CITB Site Management SMSTS Course

The Site Management Safety Training Scheme (SMSTS) is one of the most popular health and safety training courses, and is intended for construction site managers, project managers and senior supervisors, as well as proprietors of smaller companies.

Client-based personnel would also benefit from attending the SMSTS course.

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CITB Health and Safety Awareness Course

This course is for those who have entered, or are about to enter, the construction and civil engineering industry as a member of the workforce to help them understand the potential hazards that they face at work on site. It aims to provide a practical summary of health and safety, welfare and environmental health and safety issues.

The course also allows delegates to identify their individual responsibilities for looking after themselves and others, what the employer's duties are and what should be done if they think anyone's health and safety is being put at risk.

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