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If you're not conducting risk assessments, you're not keeping your construction workers safe...

by , 12 April 2013
Two construction workers are killed a week while working in South Africa, Public Works Minister Thulas Nxesi announced yesterday. That's why it's crucial to minimise all health and safety risks if you operate in the construction industry. The best way to do so is to identify hazards through a risk assessment. Here's how!

"The safety of employees must be an absolute priority. It is unacceptable that, on average, two South African construction workers die every week," said Public Works Minister Thulas Nxesi on Fin24.
 
That's why he says every employer, in partnership with labour, has a responsibility to ensure that health and safety regulations are implemented and enforced.
 
Whether your business operates in the construction industry or not, you have to conduct risk assessments! 
 
But it's more than that – protecting the health and safety of your employees is a legal requirement under the Occupational Health and Safety Act (OHSA).
 
So not conducting them leaves you open to a R100 000 fine or two years in jail or even both, says FSP Business.
 
That's why both you and your employee are responsible for health and safety aspects when working on a construction sites. 

Because the core of the Act is to identify hazards and risks related to tasks performed in the workplace, explains Kerusha Narothan, Product Manager of the Health and Safety Advisor on FSP Business
 
This means you need to take action in the form of risk management to prevent injury and loss to your employees health because of exposure to any hazards in the workplace.
 
Confused?
 
Don't be.
 
Four aspects to cover in your risk assessment!
 
Your risk assessment needs to cover the following four aspects as a starting point, says the HSE.gov.uk website:
  1. What are the hazards associated with this role?
  2. Who could be harmed and how?
  3. What are you already doing to minimise the health and safety risk?
  4. What further action is necessary – by whom and when?
     
In the construction industry, you'll need to focus on physical, chemical, biological and economic hazards related to doing manual work outdoors, often for long hours at a time and involving strenuous activity, says eHow.
 
These all pose health and safety risks to your employees, so ensure you've conducted a risk assessment to identify each hazard and ways to minimise the risk, like providing ear plugs as personal protective equipment to ensure loud noise doesn't permanently damage your employees' hearing.
 
That could be all it takes to cut down on the high rate of construction deaths and injuries in South Africa. 

Find out more about how to conduct risk assessments and implement precautionary measures from Risk Assessment: The 100% legally compliant risk assessment toolkit.

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