by Lina Martinez
In many ways, a construction employer's duty of care is much the same as that shown in any other type of industry. With employee satisfaction at an all-time low, if an employer is to stand any chance of retaining his or her best employee's, they need to do what they can to look after the people under their employ.
However, unlike some industries, the construction industry is one rife with dangers that could cause harm to life. A construction employer needs to step up his duty of care then, as if they don't, there could be serious repercussions to consider.
Should you work in this field, be you an employer or an employee, these are some of the duty-of-care factors that you need to know about.
#1: Training must be a priority
Construction is a high-risk industry, and employees are expected to work with a range of machinery and scaffolding equipment. If mistakes are made in the use of these technologies, then the consequences could be catastrophic if an accident occurs. Therefore, every employee needs to be fully trained in the jobs they have to do, with both health and safety and risk assessment training, to minimize the chances of a costly (both to life and finances) mistake taking place. Training should be updated too, so when new practices come into play, or if new pieces of equipment are bought, employees should receive the training necessary for both safety and professional reasons.
#2: Equipment needs to be maintained
Following on from the above, it is the employer's duty of care to his employees to ensure that all equipment is working correctly. Not only is this necessary when considering the danger to life, but even on a productivity level, employees will not be able to complete work to deadlines if the tools and technologies they use are not fit for purpose. It might be that the employer needs to educate himself on the equipment used on site. They might need to learn how to use swivel eye bolts properly on their rigging equipment, for example, as misuse could lead to an accident when performing lifts. Or the employer might bring in a third-party professional to conduct an inspection, especially when unsure about what to look for themselves. And when buying equipment, the employer should resist the urge to cut costs by buying something second-hand, as older items could be ill-maintained and dangerous to use.
#3: Employee workloads need to be managed
Not only will productivity drop when an employee is tired because of a heavy workload, but there could be a risk to life too, especially when careless mistakes are made because of an exhausted physical and mental state. An employer needs to monitor the workloads of his employees then, ensuring that they aren't asking too much of the people in their care. They should also provide sufficient opportunities for breaks, as on days when there is a lot to do, employees will work more safely when they have had the opportunity to rest a little in between jobs.
Should you be an employer, you need to care for your employees in the ways we have mentioned if you want to create a good name for your business. And should you be an employee, you need to consider our duty of care suggestions. If your employer isn't doing what he should, then you might want to speak to them for your own personal safety or consider work elsewhere.
Let us know if you have any other suggestions for those working in the construction industry.