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HSE Insight into small businesses and clients within the construction sector

Health and Safety (H&S) performance in the construction sector has improved significantly over the past decade, with a general long-term downward trend in the number and rate of fatal injuries. However, the construction sector remains one of the most hazardous, accounting for approximately a quarter of all fatal injuries to workers. In the five years to March 2017, 196 construction workers have died. Each year (looking at the average of the last three years) 64,000 workers in the industry receive an injury at work and 80,000 suffer from work-related ill health; 4.1% of skilled construction and building trade workers are injured each year, more than twice the average for all occupations.

The majority of fatal incidents involve small businesses, and nearly half of all reported injuries occur in refurbishment activities. Risks on larger projects can be substantial but, generally, large projects are better at controlling risks than most small projects.

The purpose of this research was to improve HSE’s understanding of smaller businesses’ (with <15 employees) who work in the construction sector and clients’(domestic and small commercial) who procure new build, refurbishment, repair and maintenance work from the construction sector regarding their needs, perceptions, attitudes and behaviours when it comes to seeking out and using health and safety (H&S) communications and support to enable the effective management and control of risk.

For a full summary of the research findings visit the report.

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