2 in 5 construction workers admit working from height regulations are being broken, according to new research

2 in 5 construction workers admit working from height regulations are being broken, according to new research
  • 42% of construction workers see health & safety rules as unnecessary
  • 38% of construction workers think their business struggles with reporting incidents to superiors
  • Working from height regulations were most commonly broken, but carry the highest level of safety risk

New research has revealed that 2 in 5 (42%) construction workers regularly break health and safety rules because they view them as unnecessary.

The study1, commissioned by Phoenix Health & Safety, surveyed 1,500 participants UK wide to uncover which health and safety regulations are most commonly broken in workplaces and why.

2022 data from HSE shows that  36.8 million working days were lost due to work-related illness and workplace injury2, painting a sobering picture of the current state of health & safety in all workplaces.

Phoenix Health & Safety has gathered insightful data to better understand why people are willing to cut corners in construction, and how businesses should take action to reduce the risk of future workplace accidents.

The most common reasons health and safety regulations are broken in construction are: 

  1. Employees see the rules as unnecessary (42%)
  2. People think the risk does not seem great enough to need the rules (37%)
  3. Bad habits becoming commonplace (29%)
  4. To speed up work (23%)
  5. People being unaware that the rule existed (20%)
  6. A workplace culture that the rules could be bent or broken (20%)

Discussing the results, Nick Higginson, CEO of Phoenix Health & Safety, shares: “By looking at these results we can see that a major reason why regulations are being broken is a poor understanding of the rules and why they’re in place, with over two-fifths (42%) of people seeing rules as unnecessary.”

In addition, almost two-fifths (37%) of construction workers believe workplace health & safety risks are not perceived as being great enough and close to a third (29%) admitted that bad habits had become commonplace.

Nick explains: “It is easy to forget the importance of regulations and fall into bad habits if they’re not addressed on a regular basis. This is why frequent training is imperative to ensure employees have an up-to-date understanding of all health and safety measures in place and why they matter.”

The most frequently broken health and safety regulations in construction are:

  1. Not following working from height guidelines (38%)
  2. Not reporting an incident to superiors (38%)
  3. Slipping/tripping hazards not addressed (24%)
  4. Not doing adequate risk assessments (22%)
  5. Not following moving and handling guidelines (21%)
  6. Not having clear signage (18%)
  7. Workplace assessments not being conducted (15%)
  8. Blocking fire escapes or other essential gangways (8%)
  9. Individuals not having access to appropriate PPE (7%)
  10. Individuals choosing not to use appropriate PPE (6%)

The most commonly broken regulation was not following working from height regulations, with almost two in five reporting this is an issue in their workplace.

Nick shares: “In 2022/23 alone, falling from height was named as the most common cause of fatal accidents at work, with 54% of all these fatalities being within the construction industry.4 This makes the study’s findings particularly concerning, and these chilling statistics act as a clear example of why it is important to be correctly following the working from height guidelines at all times.”

Summarising the findings from the study, Nick concludes: “Whilst health and safety regulations may sometimes be perceived as unnecessary and a barrier to productive work, it’s important to remember that they play a crucial and potentially life saving role in the workplace. 135 workers and 68 members of the public were killed in work-related accidents in 2022/235, signalling how this is a serious issue which can result in fatalities.

“It is the responsibility of organisations to ensure that all health and safety regulations are in place and a culture of following the rules is installed in the workplace, but it is also the responsibility of employees themselves to ensure the regulations are followed.”

Instilling a safety culture within the workplace can be done by relevant employees taking an accredited, industry-standard course such as the IOSH Managing Safely Course, which will provide the knowledge needed to be responsible for the health and safety of others in the workplace.

For further information on the IOSH courses available, visit

https://www.phoenixhsc.co.uk/iosh-courses to understand which would be the right training for you or your team

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