Of the nine most dangerous jobs in the UK, roofing is in the top three according to Adzuna – a job search engine that used its own data along with research from the Office for National Statistics (ONS) to compile the list.
When you look a bit closer at the figures for roofing, you’ll find that the data also includes scaffolding, and the report found that the majority of workplace deaths are due to falls. Falling or injuries sustained while falling accounted for 29% of all workplace deaths last year – and scaffolding is one of the most dangerous careers in the country, as 69 scaffolding-related deaths have occurred since 2010.
It’s a stark reminder of what a challenging profession roofing is and why there are a raft of stringent regulations in place to keep everyone safe at work.
Issued hot on the heels of the Adzuna study was a completely unrelated report by Microsoft which found that technology – such as smartphones – is becoming increasingly distracting for workers. The report stated that it’s due to the fact that we’re all constantly being bombarded by a steady stream of emails, messages and notifications from social media sites.
Driven to distraction?
For us in roofing, the publication of these two reports so closely together poses the question as to whether smartphones are becoming too distracting for use on site, and we wonder about the dilemma this presents to owners of roofing companies because of the duty of care to keep themselves, their employees and their subbies safe at work. On the one hand, smartphones are an absolute essential on site, as they ensure we’re all contactable. You could even venture to say that smartphones have boosted productivity because of the ability to get online when you’re onsite and access a wealth of information at your fingertips. It’s now commonplace for smartphones to be used to check the status of deliveries or to download spec sheets from manufacturers’ websites, often simply by tapping an app.
However, smartphones have become super-smart in mastering the ability to grab our attention. It’s like they’re slowly turning us into modern-day versions of Pavlov’s dogs because we’ve all become compelled to check our smartphones the instant they beep or buzz because of the worry of missing out. And even if we can’t respond to them straight away, they do play on our minds and we check them at the first available opportunity – and this level of distraction isn’t always helpful when we work in the third most dangerous job in the UK.
While their intelligence could be their undoing, it could also be a smartphone’s saving grace – by using their functionality to dial down their ability to distract us. Here are a couple of simple tips that can be used by everyone on site.
Change the frequency of notifications – the fewer notifications you receive, the less likely you are to check your smartphone. Notifications can be limited and you can also use the phone’s Do Not Disturb mode.
Hide social media apps – a lot of people have social media apps on the home or front pages of their smartphones, but try putting them in folders on the last page of your phone instead. That way, you’re less likely to habitually click the Facebook or Instagram icon.
Use a watch – that way, you won’t need to check your phone to see what time it is – and then be tempted to check updates.
Install addiction-breaking apps – counter-intuitively, you can reduce your phone use by installing apps such as Checky, which gathers data about your phone use, showing you how many times you unlock your phone in a day and logging this behaviour over time.
You’d be surprised how some simple tips can play a small but important role in keeping everyone safe on site through the reduction of distractions, and we’d welcome comments on Twitter: @SIGRoofing.