Managing Hazards In The Building Industry

Working in the building industry can pose serious hazards.  Here are some basic tips to help manage those hazards to protect your staff and other contractors working on site.  Remember, Safety Concepts has a consulting service, so if you need assistance with anything please feel free to contact us for more information!


•Ensure work method statements prepared, signed off and available

•Ensure workers have general safety induction cards

•Display appropriate site signage

•Use appropriate safety gear

Work at heights

•Keep controls in place if risk of fall = 2 m for commercial and 3 m for domestic e.g. edge protection, catch platform

•Provide and use adequate work platforms e.g. 5 planks

•Ensure no gaps in perimeter protection

•Make sure penetrations covered/secured


•Ensure tools and equipment maintenance are in good condition

•Use tools and equipment for intended purposes only

•Make sure guards are in place when using tools and equipment

Falling objects

•Do not throw tools and materials down from heights

•Make sure brick guards/mesh are in place in scaffold

•Use exclusion zone and/or catch platform

•Ensure controls implemented for loads being lifted over adjoining areas e.g. adjoining area closed/gantry erected


•Keep electrical equipment away from water

•Make sure earth leakage switch installed on mains supply

•Secure and protect extension leads from damage and used from individual power points with leads not exceeding 30 metres Keep testing and tagging current e.g 3 monthly



•Keep working area clear/tidy

•Manage trip hazards e.g. material neatly stacked

•Dispose excess mortar appropriately e.g. designated areas

Manual tasks

•Use mechanical equipment (e.g. forklifts, trolleys, cranes) to reduce the force needed to lift, carry, move, hold or restrain material and tools.

•Adjust equipment to minimise bending, twisting and over-reaching (e.g. adjust height of work platforms to avoid over-reaching).

•Change work practices or equipment to avoid repetitive actions or prolonged tasks (e.g. use a crane or elevator to lift bricks to work level to avoid throwing bricks).


•Wear Hearing protection when cutting timber and metal

•Ensure controls implemented to minimise exposure e.g. hearing protection.

Hazardous substances

•Make Materials Safety Data Sheets (MSDS) available for substances classified as hazardous (e.g. cement, lime, hydrochloric acid)

•Store hazardous substances safely and securely when not in use

•Train workers in safe handling of hazardous substances (e.g. wear gloves when handling hydrochloric acid)

•Label hazardous substances (includes safety and risk phrases)

•Do not store hazardous substances in food and/or drink containers (e.g. hydrochloric acid not stored in drink bottles)

Personal Protective Equipment

•Ensure workers wearing steel capped boots, hard hat with shade brim, high vis shirts and sunglasses if necessary


•Provide sheltered meal area

•Ensure workers have access to toilets (1 toilet for each 15 workers or part thereof)

•Provide hand and face washing facilities (separate from toilets)

•Ensure workers have access to potable, clean and cool drinking water

•Make sure first aid equipment provided is hygienic and appropriate for the size and complexity of the project

Emergency preparedness and response

•Keep fire extinguishers available and testing current

•Make sure emergency evacuation plan available

•Brief workers on emergency evacuation plan

· Ensure that you have first aid facilities available

Sun protection

•Recognise ultraviolet radiation 3-7 protection required; 8-11 extra protection required

•Ensure protection by seeking shade, wearing sun protection clothing, broad brim hat, sunglasses and using sunscreen

•Wear clothing with a 30+ ultraviolet protection factor

•Wear safety helmets extra brims and neck covers fitted

•Wear sun glasses and 30 + sun protection

Occupational stress

•Monitor work demands and control over work

•Provide support systems for talking about tough situations at work

•Provide clear work structures, particularly through times of change

•Recognise and reward workers

Occupational violence

•Use design or engineering measures to change the physical characteristics of the workplace, to reduce the risk, where possible.

•Change the systems of work or work practices to help reduce risks. For example, train workers in aggressive behaviour management, including the recognition and diffusion of potentially volatile situations; ensure sufficient number of appropriately trained staff, where possible; provide for emergency communication; implement a system of communication and support for home visits.

About the Author

Joanne Wallace is our resident "Safety Guru". Joanne has provided advice on safety management for the past 10 years and written hundreds of articles on safety issues and tips. Joanne has experience in many industries ranging from manufacturing, food processing, timber milling, retail, office and wholesaling providing her with knowledge and experience managing risk and injuries in these industries.

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