ECA Director of Business Services, Paul Reeve identiﬁes the top on-site hazards faced by electrical contractors.
In recent years the electrical contracting industry has made remarkable progress with improving on-site safety. Recent accident statistics from the JIB and the ECA supports this – with the results indicating that the rate of accidents in the electrical sector has halved since 2010.
While safety remains an operational priority across the sector, the occupational health of workers is not always managed effectively and sometimes, it is not managed at all. Yet the biggest cause of cancer in the wider construction industry is exposure to airborne asbestos and silica, two hazards of particular signiﬁcance to electrical and other building services contractors.
To ﬁnd out more about occupational health in the building services sector, the ECA and selected partners recently carried out a major occupational health survey, with the majority of respondents being directors and managers within building engineering services.
Respondents to the survey identiﬁed the most signiﬁcant hazards to contractors on-site as:
● Manual handling – nearly 6 in 10% of respondents said it was a signiﬁcant hazard
● Asbestos – over 5 in 10 replies indicated it was a signiﬁcant hazard
● Noise – over 4 in 10 respondents said it was a signiﬁcant hazard
● Silica – over 4 in 10 indicated it was a signiﬁcant hazard
Many other hazards also featured highly in the survey, including vibration, contact with chemicals and substances, and electromagnetic ﬁelds.
It is of course, worth pointing out that hazards are not necessarily risks (risk being a result of the severity of the hazard and the likely exposure to it), but the above indicates the most signiﬁcant occupational health challenges in the sector.
Signiﬁcantly, workplace stress and other mental health issues were also recognised as being a hazard to employees on site. Some 3 in 10 said it was a ‘signiﬁcant hazard’, while a further 55% recognised it as a ‘minor hazard’. Many respondents recognised the growing signiﬁcance of occupational stress to workers. Yet the survey also found that many ﬁrms do not recognise occupational stress as being part of their on-site OH management requirements.
“Many ECA members (through the JIB) have free access to Constructing Better Health’s ‘Construction Health Action Toolkit’, which is an interactive system for managing occupational health.”
The vast majority of respondents also said they were generally up-to-speed with the relevant legislation (such as the Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations) which seeks to ensure the health of workers.
Steps are already being taken to increase awareness of occupational health. Many ECA members (through the JIB) have free access to Constructing Better Health’s ‘Construction Health Action Toolkit’, which is an interactive system for managing occupational health.
In addition, the ECA’s e-RAMS software allows ECA member contractors to identify on-site health hazards and undertake a concise risk assessment, along with a method statement, to help control on-site risks to the health of contractors.