How to produce safety reports in construction

Construction By Matthew Coombes

During the course of a construction project, whether it’s building, demolishing or refitting, there will be a specific strategy plan in place to ensure that everything is completed effectively, on time, and on budget. Any construction project, large or small, will have many moving parts including contractors, equipment and plant hire, deliveries and suppliers and workers from different aspects of construction.

As part of this planning, there needs to be a consideration for health and safety and specifically the construction risks that are likely to be found on site. Heavy machinery, plant, electrics, excavators and excavations all have their own risks and control measures that must be considered and assessed.

In the UK there is a legal duty to conduct a risk assessment and a duty to act upon the findings of that assessment. This is where a ‘safety report’ comes in. The safety report is a centralised, often digital document used to explain safety information throughout the construction project.

Each company will have their own way of conducting their safety reporting, and some may choose to produce a different report for directors, managers and workers/contractors to ensure that information is relevant to the individual/group.

The safety report will need to include

  • Administration details – Site location, names of relevant companies, the project and a brief summary of its intentions
  • Hazards and photos – Hazards present or likely to be present, pictures of any hazards actively observed during the project
  • Controls – Suggestions/solutions to reduce risk, address hazards and pre-emptively manage health and safety

Note: Construction safety reports often include pictures of hazards as it is important to ensure that the safety information is easy to understand by any party that needs to access it.

Risk Matrices

While they are commonly employed in risk assessment documents, risk matrices are not always beneficial to the assessment and safety report. They can be beneficial for quantitative risk assessment in medium to high-risk environments, and can help to prioritise actions following an assessment, but often the meaning behind a risk matrix can become confused or lost.

“…if you ask the person who has carried out that risk assessment, and plug their numbers into the table, what those numbers actually mean, the number of times they can’t actually explain to you…”

Rigby, N. (2021) Managing Risk: From Assessment to Control. Bringing your Risk Assessment to Life [Webinar]
Training and events From HSE.

You should only use a risk matrix in your safety report if:
A) You’ve been asked to (by a superior or policy document)
B) It will be beneficial to prioritise actions/controls to reduce risk
C) It will help people to understand the hazards/risks
D) Your risk assessment is quantitative
E) Your operations are medium to high risk and a risk matrix is appropriate

The key reason for creating a safety report is both to provide a means to take stock of risks and controls, and conduct a risk assessment, and to provide this information to any party where it may be relevant for the improvement of safety on site.

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