2 min read

Could colour-coded construction helmets work here?

By Jeff Salton

Workers on aircraft carriers (sailors) wear different colour shirts on deck to depict what role they play and where they should be in relation to aircraft movements. It’s a safety and operational ‘thing’.

It seems the colour-coding idea is catching on.

Build UK, the body that represents 27 of the UK’s biggest contracting companies, along with 40 trade associations representing 11,500 workers, will introduce colour-coded helmets for workers on construction sites in the UK from 2017.

Build UK says this on-site health and safety initiative was drafted in consultation with, and the full support of, Build UK members and promotes best practice on construction sites through the use of colour-coded safety helmets for on-site personnel, it was reported in the UK media.

The move is designed to allow on-site workers to determine quickly who is who – resulting in an improvement in on-site communication and increased levels of safety on construction projects across the UK.

Under the scheme, the following coloured helmets depict construction site roles:

  • Supervisors = black helmets
  • Slinger/signaller = orange
  • Competent operators and vehicle marshals = white
  • Everyone else (including apprentices and visitors) = blue
  • No more yellow or green hats, currently popular on many UK sites.

Build UK Chief Executive Suzannah Nichol said: “We are delighted that our Safety Helmet Colours Standard, which aims to provide clear and practical help for everyone working on-site, is being taken on and implemented by the wider industry as best practice.

“Health and safety is a priority for Build UK and we will continue to bring the construction supply chain together to discuss the issues that matter to our industry and ensure that Build UK, as the voice of the industry, leads positive and meaningful change,” she added.

Could the system work in Australia?

With our hot summers, I’m not sure wearing black helmets would be a good health & safety initiative, but there are plenty of other colours from which to choose.

Being able to recognise from a distance someone’s skill level or role on a construction site certainly could be advantageous, especially for prime contractors or those who have workplace health and safety responsibilities for others.

Health and safety laws in this country are constantly changing (even without the introduction of different coloured helmets). To keep fully abreast of changes in legislation, regardless of which jurisdiction your organisation operates in, you need the Health & Safety Handbook.

Written by the legal experts at Holding Redlich lawyers, the Health & Safety Handbook will answer all your questions and provide information about your roles and responsibilities to workers in your care (all written in plain English).

PS: It was pointed out that as a competent operative, children’s favourite Bob the Builder should really be wearing a white hat, not yellow.

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