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.
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.
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.