Construction safety focus: Improving on-site plant safety

You’re working on site and you are standing in the working area of a 15 tonne excavator. The operator can’t see you and the plant is in operation.

How do you feel?

It’s not a trick question. It’s an extremely important question I’ve asked 700 construction site workers in recent months, and the answer’s pretty much remained the same:

‘Not good.’

On average, 7 workers die each year as a result of accidents involving vehicles or mobile plant on construction sites. A further 93 are seriously injured

Accidents can occur for a number of reasons, but one of the main reasons is that site workers don’t have their mind on the moment.

For instance, they’re rushing to sort a delivery or are busy on their mobile phone (which is another major industry-wide problem).

Another reason, which is often overlooked, is that the working area isn’t universally recognised by people as a high risk area.

The working area is anywhere that’s in close proximity to a machine. Stand in this area and you immediately put yourself in danger of being injured or killed, regardless of whether you’re standing in it for two seconds or ten minutes. The risk gets much higher if you’re in very close proximity to the machine or in the blind spot.

But it doesn’t have to be this way.

Our Thumbs Up safety campaign is aimed at empowering people to rethink their behaviour around working plant

Thumbs Up is aimed at making a demonstrable difference to the way site workers and plant operators communicate.

The idea behind the campaign is simple. When you give a thumbs up sign to the plant operator, you’re effectively asking permission to enter their work zone. You’re respecting the fact that there’s a high-risk item that affects whether they get home safely. And you’re showing colleagues you don’t take safety around plant for granted.

Giving the plant operator a thumbs up takes no effort and can have life-saving consequences for everybody on site.

We’re committed to improving plant safety on all UK construction sites

As part of our Thumbs Up campaign, we carry out practical on-site safety sessions for all site personnel. In fact, one of our major contractors has already seen a visible change in site behaviour since taking part in the training.

For more information about our Thumbs Up training sessions and how you can make your sites safer places to work call us on 020 8900 0000 or email