In the year spanning 2020-2021, the Health & Safety Executive (HSE) recorded thirty-nine workplace fatalities in the construction sector in the UK. It will come as no surprise that the HSE ranks construction as the third most dangerous sector to work in – with only the agricultural and waste management sectors considered more dangerous. So, what are the main safety risks and challenges that we face in construction and civil engineering?

Falling from height

In construction, 50% of all fatalities in the year 2020-2021 were the result of a fall from height. Falling from height has consistently represented 50% of all workplace fatalities for the past five years. Whenever working at height, a full risk assessment should be conducted to identify and quantify risk. Construction workers should be trained in the use and operation of safety and personal protective equipment. Harnesses should always be worn and appropriate anchoring points should be selected and checked for security before applying any load.


Second to falling from a height, representing substantially fewer fatalities at 13%, are accidents that involve workers being crushed, trapped or having machinery overturn on them. The risk of injury or death can be mitigated by a thorough risk assessment ensuring areas are clear and areas of machine operation are clearly defined. This should also include a check to confirm the ground the machinery is operating on is stable and level. When machinery is in operation, appropriate and visible PPE such as a safety helmet and a high-visibility vest should be worn for protection and to draw attention.

Non-fatal injuries

The HSE recorded an average of 61,000 non-fatal workplace injuries per year in the construction and civil engineering sector during the period of 2018 to 2021. Representing 30% of all injuries are slips and trips on a single level (i.e., not from height). Equipment not being cleared away; exposed wires and areas being left untidy are the largest root cause of this kind of accident.

The second-largest reported injury is those caused by heavy lifting and manual handling. The lifting and moving of equipment and materials is unavoidable at the worksite. Workers employed on a worksite should be shown the correct manual handling techniques to lift awkward loads. Heavy loads can put enormous strain on the body, particularly the back. A good rule of thumb to check whether a load is too heavy to lift is to first try moving it by foot.

A safe approach

A safe and secure worksite comes as standard when you choose Lydon Contracting for your civil engineering needs. Contact our friendly team to see how Lydon Contracting can help you today.