December 2014 was a weak month for the UK construction industry, but things picked up again for the start of 2015. January saw an increase in both output and new business growth and according to the CIPS/Markit Construction PMI the vast majority of British construction firms were forecasting an increase in business activity through 2015.
The CIPS/Markit Construction PMI score for January was 59.1, which shows a robust expansion, but is down on the average score of 61.8, which was recorded during 2014. The industry is facing a number of issues, primarily relating to the supply chains and subcontractors. Demands on both are high and this has impacted on charges and availability. On the plus side, the reduction in energy and fuel prices has been a welcome bonus to the construction industry.
The CIPS/Markit Construction PMI also indicated that whilst there were new construction jobs being created, the rate of growth had slowed considerably. With the General Election looming, there is some degree of uncertainty on the economic situation, which is causing construction managers to be hesitant in terms of recruitment. Although job creation is currently weak, the limited supply and cost of subcontractors could leave managers with no choice but to bring new workers onto site.
The risk is that there is a current shortage of skilled construction workers. When the demands of the industry are high, the temptation is to get people on the job as soon as possible. If a construction company employs someone who has insufficient experience or knowledge of the hazard and they are put to work before receiving sufficient levels of training, the outcomes could be fatal.
It is a requirement that any employer puts into place measures that protect their staff from workplace hazards. With large construction machinery in operation, the need to work at height, a constantly changing work environment, tools and teams of people working in close proximity, a construction site is a naturally hazardous environment.
Construction Industry Training
Training is essential to ensure that every person on a building site has the knowledge and equipment to recognise and respond to an incident or accident, should it occur. Understanding the hazards, along with how to minimise the risks of problems occurring and escalating is essential for everyone’s safety.
Training can take many forms both formal and informal, including work shadowing, online programmes, practical courses, academic study, company conferences, attending events, reading books or industry journals and work placements. Ideally employees should be given the opportunity to complete at least part of the training during work hours and if the training they are looking for is not currently available, the employees should feel able to research and recommend new opportunities for themselves and their colleagues.
On a building site, the site manager and anyone else with responsibility for others, resources and planning should be encouraged to complete the Site Management Safety Training Scheme (SMSTS). This scheme provides a detailed insight into specific safety issues that occur within the construction industry. It highlights practical activities which can reduce the risks of incidents and accidents and illustrates why site safety needs to be at the heart of every project.
SMSTS Refresher courses are also available for those who attended training a few years ago, or those who are returning to site management. These courses act as a reminder of key issues and bring learning up to speed with new regulations, compliancy and available data.
In the UK 31% of workplace fatalities occur on building sites, but a high standard of safety training can help to minimise the risk of your construction team being affected. To find out more about SMSTS, or to reserve a place on the next course visit Heffron Safety: https://heffronsafety.com/smsts/