Essential Tools for Contractors

04 June 2014

Contract workers face a number of health and safety risks every day, from falls from heights, electrocutions, slips, trips, and falls, or even being struck by an object. Increased risks make it a necessity that you provide sufficient safety equipment to protect your contractor’s health and safety while working on a site. There are a number of tools that are essential for contractors, such as sufficient headgear, ear protection, and harness safety tools that will ensure your contract workers are fully prepared before they enter your site. Without such tools, you will only be gambling with risk and jeopardizing the safety of your contract workers. Let’s take a look.

The Stats

In the UK, there were 217 deaths within construction between 2010 and 2015, according to the Health and Safety Executive (HSE).

If you break down these figures; fall from heights were the number one cause of worker fatalities at 97 cases, followed by trappings at 28, and hit by a vehicle at 21 fatalities. The HSE have also estimated the number of non-fatal fatalities, which amounted to 65,000 over the period of 2012 and 2015. Of these, 22,000 injuries were attained by builders on construction sites, 34,000 to workers in specialised construction areas, and 8,000 to workers in civil engineering.

According to the HSE, the total number of injuries within construction are “statistically significantly higher” in construction than in other industries, with construction sub-groups such as builders and specialists experiencing “elevated rates of injury.

Safety Equipment For Contractors

Contractor safety can be enhanced by providing contractors with sufficient tools, such as hard hats and eye protection, which may even increase worker productivity. Keep in mind, that the items listed below are just suggestions of essential tools based on our research and knowledge in the area. Therefore, depending on the nature of the job, the tools required could change.

Hard Hats

For contract workers, in particular, hard hats are a necessary part of the job and an item that can potentially save your worker’s life. The HSE recommends that suitable protection is to be worn at all times, in order to prevent from “falling or flying objects” risks associated with “head bumping” or “hair entanglement”. The HSE also recommends that you consider a range of helmets, such as hard hats and bump caps, to ensure ultimate contractor health and safety is guaranteed. There are certain tips you should follow in ensuring your hard hats are in good shape, we have listed them below.

  • Only use a hard hat if it’s in good condition, do not allow your contract workers to use any safety equipment that is damaged in any way.
  • Hard hats should fit your contract worker properly. Therefore, it may be an idea to show your contract worker how to adjust it accordingly, so it doesn’t fall off when they need it the most!
  • Hard hats should have the ability to accommodate ear protection equipment also.
  • When hard hats are not in use, keep them away from direct sunlight, heat and excessive humidity, all of which could potentially damage the shell of the hat.

Finally, you should always ensure there is regular inspections of hard hats before any of your contract workers wear them on site. Over time, hard hats can get damaged or weakened after just a few months on the job. This is why it’s pivotal to ensure hard hats are in excellent working condition.

Eye Protection

Safety Equipment

Eye protection is a necessary component for any of your contract workers while on site. Think of the range of potential hazards your contract workers face during the course of their daily tasks, from dust particles, wood chippings and chemical splashes, the potential for harm is high. The HSE recommend that you consider what the level of risk is first before deciding on the best type of safety equipment to provide. The agency outlined a number of potential options, such as goggles, safety spectacles, face shields, and visors, as important tools to enhance your contractor health and safety. Below are some tips to ensure that eye protection is kept in working order.

  • Ensure that eye protection fits your contract worker properly.
  • Store eye protection in a cool and dry place.
  • Train your contract workers in how to use the safety equipment correctly.
  • Ensure that eye protection is regularly inspected for damage.
  • Make sure the eye protection has the right combination of impact/dust/ splash/molten metal eye protection for the task and fits the user properly.

Ear Protection

The necessity for ear protection really depends on the type of construction job your contractor workers are working on. The HSE stipulates that ear protection must be considered if extra protection is needed “above what has been achieved using noise control” as a short-term measure while “other methods of controlling noise” are being worked on. Therefore, the HSE does not recommend that you use hearing protection as an “alternative” to controlling excessive noise by other means, on your site. Legally, you should provide your contract workers with hearing protection if they ask for it and if noise exposure is exceeding the recommended level, according to the HSE. Here are some other things to consider.

  • Provide ear protection for “noisy tasks and jobs” on site.
  • Select protectors which are suitable for your working environment, consider comfort and hygiene.
  • Ensure ear protection remain in workable order and clean condition.
  • Ensure earmuffs are sealed and undamaged.

Fall Protection

Safety Equipment

With 97 fatal falls over the 2014/15 periods, falls are one of the leading contributors to contractor fatalities accounting for 50% of all fatalities according to the HSE. Therefore, you should ensure your contract workers have sufficient fall protection when working from dangerous heights on site. According to the HSE, there is no distinction between “low and high falls” this means that regardless of the type of job from height, “precautions are required” to prevent any risks to your contractor health and safety. Depending on the job, it may be necessary to provide your contract workers with necessary fall protection to minimise injury. Here are a few other things you should consider, according to the HSE.

  • Provide your contract workers with the appropriate safety equipment to prevent falls if working at a height “cannot be avoided.”
  • Use a collection of precautions such as scaffolds, nets and soft landing systems.
  • Consider the use of a harness.
  • Ensure work is carried out only when “weather conditions do not jeopardise” the “health and safety of workers.”

The HSE recommend that you approach the application of fall protection in a sensible way by first identifying suitable precautions. There is a certain “hierarchy of control measures” for “determining how to work safely” from a height, according to the HSE.

How GoContractor Can Help

At GoContractor, we offer an online orientation platform where you can conduct all of your orientation training. Our platform allows your contract workers to register themselves online, upload documents and photographs, and take their orientation training. This process can also be adapted to suit each location and worker type, ensuring every contract worker receives training regardless of what site they are based on.

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Sonya Sikra

Sonya is the Brand Strategy Manager at GoContractor. She specializes in communicating how implementing tech in construction can drive productivity and profit.

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