Don’t Let Safety Get Your Back Up
SOME flooring contractors view health & safety regulations as an annoyance, even as a waste of time or as simply a box-ticking or form-filling exercise. They are not alone. Even the Prime Minister, no less, pledged at the height of the recession to ‘kill off the health & safety culture for good’.
Perhaps the relatives and friends of the 148 people who were killed on construction sites in 2012/13 or the many thousands who were seriously injured at work would beg to disagree with Mr Cameron about scrapping the safety rules. Construction sites are extremely dangerous places. An HSE report (published in CFJ last month) revealed basic failures at nearly half of sites inspected in one month.
Contrary to what some say, health & safety regulations do need to be taken seriously. They are there to save lives and prevent injury. Anyone ready to rant about red tape should take account of the crippling cost to British business of workplace injuries running into billions of pounds annually.
Of course specialist contractors, including members of the CFA, do suffer fewer accidents than the construction average as revealed in the lastest NSCC survey. But that is no reason to be complacent.
Health & safety should be treated as common sense by floorlayers as much as by any other trade. The bosses of flooring businesses are naturally entitled to feel peeved when over-zealous site managers demand that their fitters wear hard hats, industrial gloves, goggles and even steel capped boots when fitting carpets indoors (even as one of the last trades on site). But hazards on construction sites are there at every turn.
Although floorlaying doesn’t carry the risk of roofing, for example, it can cause injuries which may not kill, but can leave people incapacitated and unable to work for long periods. These include musculoskeletal disorders, specifically back injury, which cause the loss of millions of working days every year, a massive burden on the entire economy.
Back injuries are a constant worry for floor fitters whose work includes lifting and dragging heavy loads (rolls of flooring and bags of surface preparation materials), as well as bending and kneeling, crouching and twisting, pushing and pulling, sometimes with forceful movements. And it doesn’t take much to ‘put your back out’. An injury can occur suddenly, particular in cold conditions in unheated premises during winter.
The unexpected absence of a fitter through injury can leave a flooring contractor unable to finish a job on time, missing a deadline and incurring penalties. Aside from the possible loss of future work, it can mean increased costs, higher insurance premiums, and a bad reputation. That’s why a few basic precautions can save you money.
This article has been reproduced from the Contract Flooring Journal website. You can find them at www.contractflooringjournal.co.uk.