We are only a small contractor in construction. So why do we need safety?

This is a list of things we hear often from contractors in relation to safety.

  1. Why do we need safety as a smaller contractor?
  2. We don’t need safety, We’ve never had an accident. We’ve been doing it this way for years!
  3. Health and Safety people are jobsworths, We are not here to be told off thank you!
  4. Health and Safety people are process driven with no flexibility!

The aim of this article is to hopefully dispel some myths about safety for smaller contractors.

  1. Why do we need safety as a smaller contractor?

To answer this question. We need to look at what us contractors do. Whether you like it or not, it is dangerous. Dust, working at height, tools, plant, chemicals and lifting operations.. these things kill people when they go wrong. We have a moral duty, not to just protect ourselves, but to care for others.

Nothing you do after something happens will matter. Prison sentences, fines and remedial orders will not give someone back their eyes, spine, lungs or life. Nothing you do after will stop you feeling like you could have done more. This is why we urge contractors to be proactive about Health and Safety before something happens.

  1. We don’t need safety, We’ve never had an accident. We’ve been doing it this way for years!

Yes, it is true, you’ve never had an accident.. but, how many near misses have made your ticker beat that little bit faster than usual? Even the most experienced contractor is still at risk of complacency, this is why the HSE make refresher training compulsory.

Legal compliance should be more than just paperwork, it should be an ethos you embrace at an early stage, because lets be honest, you want your company to get bigger don’t you? Or take on bigger contracts?

If that’s the case, embracing Health and Safety early makes it much easier to integrate systems later on, especially for accreditation’s like CHAS/SSIP’s or winning tenders with larger contractors that require high standards of Health and Safety. Not only can you reduce the chance of accidents, it also makes good business sense.

  1. Health and Safety people are jobsworths, We are not here to be told off thank you!

Our style? we’d rather tell you what you’re doing right. Then assist you with continual improvement (Baby steps!). However, there will always be people that take their job more seriously than others. To call them jobsworths is a bit strong. They are trying to assist you in protection of other human beings, it comes from passion rather than being a killjoy. Militant Health and Safety people have their place, and without them, imagine having to implement safety on site when it first got embraced back in the 90’s.

The old school way of picking on people with no PPE or ripping into your paperwork is long gone. We are advisers, not officers of the law. We want to help not hinder. Stopping sites running is really counter productive to productivity.

  1. Health and Safety people are process driven with no flexibility!

This one always makes us giggle. You are right, there are processes, but we are realistic, to stick to them rigidly in all circumstances can be near on impossible. This is why it’s always a good idea to employ an experienced construction health and safety person, rather than someone that isn’t experience with site work. Ask for a CV.. look at their qualifications and call around, see if this person can really help you. You need someone that want’s to work with you and help you grow.

Author | Nikki Darling | 22 years in Construction | Safety Advisory and Training | Universal Construction Support offers assistance to smaller contractors with training and accreditation’s

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