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Your guide to building and construction sites

Construction site

Despite a significant reduction in the number and rate of injuries on building and construction sites over the last twenty years or more, according to The Health and Safety Executive (HSE), the construction industry remains a high risk industry for accidents at work. One in every hundred construction workers suffers a serious injury each year on a building site (HSE, 2014) and construction site workers have the highest risk of a serious, life-changing injury.

The most notable areas of negligence are repeatedly found to be:

  • Failures to properly protect workers during construction activities at height
  • Inadequate site management
  • Exposure to dangerous types of dust
  • Inadequate washing facilities

Smaller building firms often consistently fail to observe basic safety procedures or comply with regulations according to the HSE’s “Unannounced Site Inspections” 9th Report, Sep/Oct 2014.

Whether you work with a small building firm or a larger construction company, you are always owed a legal duty of care to ensure your safety and protection at all times. If you have been involved in an accident or suffered an injury on a building site because of unsafe conditions, you may be off work or no longer be able to return to your former trade.

Your Legal Friend has an in-depth knowledge of workplace law and injury compensation and over 30 years of experience in successfully managing workplace compensation claims. We can provide you with all the expert guidance you will need to help you make your case and secure the best possible settlement. 

Construction statistics

  • 5% of UK employees work in the construction industry yet 31% of fatal injuries occur in construction and these account for 10% of reported major/specified injuries
  • 1,900 reported major/specified injuries involved construction industry employees, 2013/14.
  • On average 2,457 major/ specified injuries per year for  the previous five years/          (Health and Safety in Construction in Great Britain - HSE, 2014)

The construction industry has:

  • Significantly higher rates of injury and absence for  non-fatal injuries than all UK industries

- 13% of over-seven-day absence injuries

- 12% of over-three-day absence injuries

- 11% of all non-fatal injuries.

  • Almost one in a hundred construction workers suffers an over-seven-day absence injury each year.          (Labour Force Survey (LFS), 2011/12 to 2013/14) 

Employers’ responsibilities

Under the Construction (Design and Management) Regulations 2015 (CDM 2015), a site contractor has a legal duty to:

  • Plan, manage and monitor all work carried out by themselves and their workers
  • Take into account the risks to anyone who might be affected by the work (including members of the public)
  • Put in place the measures needed to provide protection.

The basic guidelines are to:

  • Plan and manage risk  from start to finish
  • Coordinate and communicate effectively all risks, works and information with those who need to know.

All employers have a duty of care to protect everyone on a construction site, including: 

  • Employees
  • Self-employed
  • Contractors
  • Sub-contractors
  • Delivery drivers
  • Site visitors

What are the most common building site dangers?

A lack of adequate site management and control can often be responsible for a failure to remove hazards or enforce safety measures. Small firm employers can be wilfully negligent and flout the required procedures. Official site inspections often report the following site dangers:

  • Lack of edge protection on roofs and scaffolding
  • Defective scaffolds
  • Roofs, holes or trenches not fenced off or supported
  • Exposure to dangerous types of dust
  • Chemical spillage
  • Equipment / tool malfunctions
  • Hoist or safety harnesses failure
  • Unsafe storage of flammable materials

Moving vehicles

One third of accidents on building sites involve site dumpers and vehicles reversing (HSE). Often a combination of poor planning and inadequate separation of pedestrians and vehicles can cause vehicles or their loads to strike on-site workers and obstructions, particularly when reversing.

Regulation 36 of The Construction (Design and Management) Regulations 2007 (CDM) requires:

“Every construction site shall be organised in such a way that, so far as is reasonably practicable, pedestrians and vehicles can move safely.”

Site contractors have a duty to protect all on-site personnel from the risk of being struck by a vehicle. A safe system should be put into place to ensure:

  • Pedestrian-only areas where vehicles are completely excluded
  • Vehicle-only areas, especially where space is limited or traffic is heavy
  • Signposted safe pedestrian routes to work
  • Safe vehicle routes around the site

Personal protection equipment (PPE)

Almost all the large construction sites will display large signs to notify personnel that they must wear the basic standard of PPE before they are allowed to enter the site:

  • Safety hard hat
  • Steel toe-capped safety boots
  • High visibility jacket

In many cases, there will also be a requirement to wear safety glasses and ear defenders, which can be supplied attached to a safety hard hat.

Under the Personal Protective Equipment at Work Regulations 1992, an employer has a legal duty to ensure protective equipment is supplied and used wherever there are unavoidable risks in carrying out tasks in the workplace.


The basic welfare of people working on site can often be simply neglected, and may be a cause of health or hygiene issues.

Site management is responsible for personnel welfare and the provision of essential facilities maintained to regulation standards.

  • Toilets should be readily available, kept clean and properly lit
  • Washbasins should have hot and cold (or warm) running water, soap and towels.

Small building firms

A small builder is generally defined as an individual who carries out work on:

  • Private, domestic projects -  extensions, repairs and refurbishment work
  • Smaller business projects - short duration repairs and refurbishment involving less than 30 days of construction work.

An employer of a small building firm must comply with the regulations to ensure the safety of his workforce and members of the public when working on all and every type of residential or small commercial project.

Under the law, a builder has three main duties to:

  • Prevent hazards and risks by planning, managing and monitoring to ensure all construction work can be safely carried out
  • Put in place precautions and specific site rules  
  •  Ensure that the workforce is adequately trained
  • Give appropriate information on potential risks and hazards
  • Co-operate with the client/homeowner to ensure site safety

How Your Legal Friend can help you

As experienced personal injury specialists, we have over 30 years of experience in managing compensation cases involving accidents at work.  We are committed to guiding you through every step of the process and ensuring that your claim is handled carefully and professionally by specialist solicitors with a record of success in this field.

Our in-depth knowledge of workplace law and injury compensation can provide you with all the expert guidance you will need to help you succeed in making your claim.  We can:

  • work with you on a guaranteed no win, no fee basis
  • help you with medical treatment, rehabilitation and your return to work
  • ensure care and support services are available for the most serious injuries
  • advise you on how to claim for DWP benefits to help you along the way
  • skilfully manage your compensation claim to include:
    • payment for the pain and suffering caused by your injury
    • any financial losses you’ve incurred already, such as lost wages, travel and medical expenses
    • any expenses you may need in the future.

Talk to us today

For an informal, confidential chat with one of our specialist personal injury solicitors, call us now on 0808 163 5645 (calls free from landlines and mobiles). Or just complete the 'Start a new claim’ option on the right and we'll call you straight back.