Data shows that a total of 142 workers were killed at work in Great Britain in 2020/21 compared to 111 in 2019/20 – an increase of 28 per cent, with more workers dying in construction than any other sector (39 out of 142 deaths). In builders’ merchants the risks of both health and safety are high. Whether you work on the shop floor or out in the yard, hazards are rife, so it’s important to be fully aware of the risks around you. Our latest article looks at the common hazards found in builders merchants and how these can be managed to create a safer environment.

Fall from height risk and solution

Working at height includes any location where an employee could fall a distance – however big or small – making it a regular hazard at any builders’ merchant. If a worker falls from a height of two or more meters, they are likely to sustain a serious injury, permanent disability or die. When work at height cannot be avoided, you will need to carry out a risk assessment. You will need to consider how employees are required to:-

  • Work at height
  • Access a work location
  • Evacuate quickly and safely in an emergency

Basic guidelines outlined in the Work at Height Regulations 2005 include:

  • Use the right type of equipment for the job
  • Minimise distance and clear the area of any additional hazards
  • Don’t overload or overreach
  • Ensure adequate training has been given

 

Machinery and equipment risk and solution

Machinery can cause injuries in many ways and workers can be struck and injured by moving parts of machinery or ejected material. Parts of the body can also be drawn in or trapped between rollers, belts and pulley drives. Machinery can also face extreme temperature change which can cause burns or scolds and if the machinery becomes unreliable due to faults or inadequate training, injuries can occur.

Displaying warning signs is a simple but effective method for the first port of call and having emergency stop controls within easy reach is imperative. By ensuring the dangerous parts of machinery are adequately guarded and are checked and maintained on a regular basis, the risk of injury is reduced. Adequate training should ensure that those who use the machine are competent to use it safely. This includes ensuring they have the correct skills, knowledge and experience required to fulfil their role safely.

Manual handling risk and solution

Another common hazard found in builders merchants consists of heavy carrying. This can involve timber, bricks and other heavy objects and over time this ongoing activity, when done incorrectly, can lead to debilitating musculoskeletal disorders. Some accidents and injuries due to manual handling will present an immediate consequence, such as sprains or strains, cuts, scrapes and bruises as well as broken bones. Other effects from poor manual handling can include:-

  • Pain
  • Inflammation
  • Joint problems
  • Back problems
  • Musculoskeletal disorders
  • Arm and leg injuries
  • OOS (occupational overuse syndrome)

This can be solved by using simple mechanical aids and making sure they are kept well maintained. Also making sure workers are trained to use lifting equipment and other aids safely with manual handling courses. Considering the workers size and strength is important, as is making sure they have been trained to lift loads manually safely.

Vehicle movement and transport risk and solution

In a busy builders merchant yard, there is always lots of vehicle movement coming and going so care must be taken and carrying out your own risk assessment is vital to ensure the safety of employees and the general public. Assessing the site to ensure safety will include:-

  • The design
  • Traffic routes
  • Visibility
  • Speed
  • Signs and signals
  • Reversing
  • Loading and unloading bays
  • Tipping areas

Understanding health and safety risks at a builders’ merchant is the responsibility of both the employer and employee. For further assistance and understanding of the common hazards found in builders merchants, please contact us here.