Construction sites can be dangerous places and so everything possible needs to be done to ensure they are as safe as they can be. Fortunately, employers are legally obliged to ensure that the place where you work is safe and healthy. If they don’t adhere to certain rules, they’re breaking the law so it’s as well to know your rights.
Controlling Risks to Ensure Safety
The employer has to ensure that, wherever possible, all risks are effectively controlled.
That means identifying and assessing the risks, then putting measures in place to ensure the risks are minimised. You must also be provided, at no cost, with personal protection and safety equipment. This has to be suitable for the job, including being of the correct size, otherwise you can refuse to use it. You must be provided with the necessary training to use the equipment and must follow the instructions that are given.
You are entitled to have rest breaks during the day and to have time off during the week as well as set periods of annual paid holiday. These should be set out in your contract of employment but there are minimum periods that must be allowed, irrespective of what your contract says.
If you do have reasonable concerns about your safety while you’re working, you do have the right to stop work and to leave the area where you are working. Providing there are genuine grounds for concern, your employer is not allowed to take disciplinary action over this.
Health and Safety Concerns
When you do have concerns about health and safety, you should inform your immediate supervisor or, if you have one, the safety representative. If this doesn’t get you anywhere, you may have a trade union official or someone else you can turn to. There’s also the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) InfoLine, which you can contact if you have any questions or need any guidance or information. If all else fails, contact the authority that is responsible for the enforcement of health and safety where you work. This will be either the local council or the HSE.
Your employer’s responsibilities are legally enforceable and so the company is not permitted to take action against you if you are simply trying to ensure the workplace is safe. It is in both your interest to do this.
A major part of Health and Safety awareness on construction sites is the CSCS Test which must be taken by workers every 5 years.