May 16, 2020

How a good construction safety program can save lives

2 min
How a good construction safety program can save lives
Cutting corners – its always risky, particularly when it comes to safety.

The construction industrys reputation for generating some of the worlds...

Cutting corners – it’s always risky, particularly when it comes to safety.

The construction industry’s reputation for generating some of the world’s most hazardous work environments is well-deserved. According to the U.S. Department of Labor’s Bureau of Labor Statistics, in 2014 (the most recent year for which detailed statistics are available) there were 908 building site fatalities, with construction workers experiencing injuries and illness at a rate of 3.6 per 100.

Yet there remain business owners and site managers who attempt to save a few dollars by avoiding safety-focussed inspections and training. Unfortunately, doing so is a losing proposition for all involved.

“That old expression, ‘you need to spend money to save money’ – it’s true,” stated Ed Beaulieu, Director of Field Operations for Dale Group's Safegate Safety Solutions Unit, which provides result-driven safety consulting services. “Almost anyone who’s running a successful business knows it’s necessary to periodically invest resources – and this includes creating a program to ensure worker safety and health. In this particular case, we’re talking about an investment of time, as well as money.”

A wise initial step is consulting with experts like those at New Jersey-based Safegate about creation of specific, company-wide safety protocols that are in place at all times, at every jobsite. It’s insufficient, however, to simply print out a 'do' and 'don’t do' list. Instead, in addition to studying a company’s safety regulations, employees should be quizzed regularly, while also being asked to participate in regular drills.

The alternative is dire, since on-site injuries negatively impact the bottom line in a host of ways. These include employee days lost to recuperation – which can delay the completion of a project – as well as disruption of cash flow, damage to a company’s reputation, and significant legal fees related to litigation or, in a worst-case-scenario, prosecution.

Regular on-site inspections are also essential, with a recent California-based study indicating that workplaces that had been professionally reviewed related to safety protocols had 9.4% fewer injury claims that those that hadn’t been inspected.

“Many owners and managers also forget that each jobsite is unique,” Beaulieu added. “That means each needs to be assessed separately for particular problems or challenges that could lead to workers being injured. Inspections, regular safety drills, and making sure that insurance coverage is up-to-date and completely appropriate for each job – those are the secrets to keeping workers safe, while continuing to generate healthy profits.”


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Jul 29, 2021

Environment Agency clamps down on plastic films and wraps

Dominic Ellis
3 min
Environment Agency aware of plastic film and wrap from the construction and demolition sector being illegally exported

Businesses in the waste and construction industries must ensure they deal with waste plastic properly to stop illegal exports, the Environment Agency (EA) has warned. 

The warning comes as the Agency is increasingly aware of plastic film and wrap from the construction and demolition sector being illegally exported. 

Exports are frequently being classified as ‘green list’ waste of low risk to the environment, but are often contaminated with materials such as mud, sand, bricks and woodposing a risk to the environment and human health overseas, and undermining legitimate businesses in the UK seeking to recover such waste properly.

During the last year, the EA has intercepted shipments to prevent the illegal export of this material on numerous occasions. The Agency inspected 1,889 containers at English ports and stopped 463 being illegally exported. This, combined with regulatory intervention upstream at sites, prevented the illegal export of nearly 23,000 tonnes of waste.

Those convicted of illegally exporting waste face an unlimited fine and a two-year jail sentence. But construction firms could also face enforcement action if contaminated construction and demolition waste plastic is illegally exported.

Malcolm Lythgo, Head of Waste Regulation at the Environment Agency, said it is seeing a marked increase in the number of highly contaminated plastic film and wrap shipments from the construction and demolition industry being stopped by officers.

“I would strongly urge businesses to observe their legal responsibility to ensure waste is processed appropriately, so we can protect human health and the environment now and for future generations. It’s not enough just to give your waste to someone else - even a registered carrier. You need to know where your waste will ultimately end up to know it’s been handled properly. We want to work constructively with those in the construction and waste sectors so they can operate compliantly, but we will not hesitate to clamp down on those who show disregard for the environment and the law.”

There are a number of simple, practical steps that businesses can take to ensure that C&D site waste is handled legally.

Construction businesses should check what’s in their waste

  • Different waste types need different treatments and so must be correctly categorised to ensure it goes to a site that is authorised to handle it safely. Businesses can also check if their waste is hazardous as different rules might apply.
  • If you are removing the waste yourself, you must be a registered waste carrier- registration can be carried out here. When a waste collector is transporting your site waste, you must check they have a waste carrier’s licence from the EA.
  • You must also check that the end destination site any waste is taken to is permitted to accept it and has the right authorisations in place. Keep a record of any waste that leaves your site by completing a waste transfer note or a consignment note for hazardous waste which record what and how much waste you have handed over and where it is going.

Waste management industry must adhere to export controls

  • Contaminated C&D waste plastic - including low-density polyethylene (LDPE) wrap and film - must be exported with prior consent from the EA as well as competent authorities in transit and destination countries.
  • Those involved in the export of such waste must ensure that it meets the requirements set under the relevant export controls, such as being almost free-from contamination; the destination sites are appropriately licensed to receive and treat the waste; and waste is correctly managed once received.

The EA will continue to actively target those who export contaminated C&D plastic waste illegally, including any accredited packaging exporters who issue Packaging Waste Export Recovery Notes (PERNs) against such material in breach of their Conditions of Accreditation.

Businesses involved in the shipment of waste are required to take all necessary steps to ensure the waste they ship is managed in an environmentally sound manner throughout its shipment and during its recycling.

Anyone with information regarding the illegal export of waste including C&D waste plastics can contact the EA’s Illegal Waste Exports team at: [email protected] or anonymously via Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111 or via their website 

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