Any trade within the construction industry comes with its dangers and bricklaying certainly has its fair share of risks that need to be taken into consideration. From the risks of working at height to slips, trips, falls, and drops, there are a number of hazards that could cause damage to the property, the materials or, of course, injury to employees or members of the public.
Having good insurance policies in place, including employer’s liability insurance and Bricklayers Insurance can protect your business against claims in case of emergencies, however knowing the risks you could face on the job can help you more adequately and effectively avoid them in the long-term. As one of the most skilled and important trades in construction, getting the job done correctly and safely is crucial – here’s what you need to know.
Working At Height
Around half of all fatalities in construction are as a result of falls from height and for bricklayers, this is a very real risk that needs to be taken seriously. Falls also account for 19% of construction injuries, exceeded only by slips, trips or falls on the same level (26%). Falls can happen for a number of reasons, including human error, faulty scaffolds, ladder malfunctions, unprotected edges or unexpected adverse weather conditions. Each of these situations can lead to the risk of falling from a height while working. With heavy equipment and bricks in the equation, a fall can be fast and harsh, leading to severe injuries or fatalities. Using proper PPE and safety measures can protect you and your employees properly. You should consider:
- Risk assessments before every job
- Scaffold maintenance and inspections before use
- Weather tracking to prevent working in poor weather
- Clear poor weather guidelines and action plans that all employees know and can access
- Use fall protection equipment, including helmets, clothing, edge protection etc.
- Reduce time spent working at height where possible.
Slips, Trips and Falls
Slips, trips and falls can happen to anyone on the building site, whether that’s employees, other teams or even members of the public. Extra care should be taken to ensure that the site is kept tidy and any areas that are considered to be hazardous are kept cordoned off from the public. You should make every effort to look for any trip hazards, keep the ground as even as possible when you can, and ensure that signs are put up if the ground has been left uneven for the public to warn them of the danger. Any spillages left should be cleaned up, and any waste should be properly dealt with rather than left in the way throughout the process.
All employees should also make sure they’re wearing the right PPE and clothing, including non-slip and safety footwear to protect their feet and prevent any slips.
Dust inhalation can often feel like a temporary problem to start with. You might get a cough or a scratchy throat to start with, but it’s the long-term effects of dust exposure that can really cause trouble. If you’re dealing with dusty bricks or are surrounded by cement powders and other dust, it could have a devastating effect on your health. Dust inhalation on construction sites has been linked to lung cancers, asthma, COPD, silicosis and more, with over 800 people losing their lives each year to cancers related to dust particle inhalation. Reducing dust output as well as making sure that all employees have adequate respiratory protection can help prevent these illnesses both in short and long-term situations.
The weather is often unpredictable, especially in the UK. The forecast can tell you there will be dry, blistering sunshine all day and by lunchtime it can be pouring – for this reason, preparing your building site for the risk of poor weather can seem impossible. Rain can bring work to a grinding halt, while the sun can cause issues like heatstroke or sunburn if employees aren’t properly protected.
Reducing work hours in the height of a heat wave, as well as making sure that sun protection is provided can help to reduce the risk of heat-related problems. Similarly, stopping work in heavy rain or other poor weather conditions, or providing cover and running full risk assessments each day of a poor weather spell can help to protect your employees and the public against slips and falls, weather-related illnesses and more.
When working on any building site doing any job, there will always be a risk of causing damage to the property you are working on, and any existing property in the area. When laying bricks, you hold a risk of dropping bricks from height and damaging things on the ground below, or you could spill cement on existing grass or groundwork. Dust can also get into carpets and other upholstery. To prevent damage, you should make sure that all equipment is adequately secured, and that you have a good-sized perimeter around the site where no cars or public effects can be parked or left.
Noise exposure over a long period of time is known to cause problems with hearing. When surrounded by other construction trades, cement mixers, cutters and other heavy equipment, bricklayers can be exposed to sounds for longer than you may think. You can reduce the noise you’re exposed to with appropriate PPE, such as hearing protection, and make sure that you maintain your tools to keep them in good and safe working order. If you’re working in an enclosed space, try and open up the area where possible to prevent too much noise ricocheting, and ensure all employees are wearing ear guards, even if they aren’t working directly on the project.
For more information about bricklaying and how our bricklaying insurance works, our team are on hand to help. Simply get in touch with Ashburnham Insurance with any questions you have or for your very own bespoke quote.