Safety in the building and construction industry

The building and construction industry is marked by a high rate of attrition and many serious work accidents – particularly among foreign workers in Denmark. Read what you can do to improve safety as an employer or employee.

In order to prevent work accidents and other health problems among the employees, it is important, that both employers and workers contribute to ensuring the safety of their working environment. The employer bears overall responsibility for the working environment but the employees share responsibility; to follow employer directions, for example and use the personal protective equipment the employer has provided.

Many fall injuries and accidents involving heavy lifting and tools

The building and construction industry has a high number of work accidents compared to other industries. The most common accidents in the building and construction industry are:

  • Falls from height, from roofs, scaffolding or ladders, for example.
  • Falls at ground level, when walking on slippery or uneven surfaces, for example.
  • Accidents with power tools or machines, for example with chainsaws or angle grinders.
  • Heavy lifting accidents.

Employer's obligations

All employers who operate in Denmark are obliged to

  • give their employees adequate training and instruction so that work can be performed safely and securely.
  • effectively supervise and monitor that work is being performed safely and that instructions are followed.
  • establish a Health and Safety Organisation if work continues for more than 14 days and there are 5 or more workers at the workplace.
  • prepare a written workplace risk assessment together with employees.

The main contractor's responsibilities

The main contractor is responsible for coordinating health and safety measures across the construction site when more than one company is operating on the site at the same time. This applies in relation to shared access routes, shared scaffolding, direction lighting and transport of material and storage areas, among others.

On major construction sites, the main contractor must hold start-up and safety meetings for all companies and carry out safety inspection patrols. On these inspections the contractor will review safety on the construction site together with companies to identify any safety problems.

Typical safety issues in building and construction

Typical health and safety issues in building and construction are accidents, heavy lifting, noise, chemicals and dust.

To make it easier for you to create a safe and healthy working environment, the WEA has written a series of guides. You can find them in the box to the right:

Recognition of professional qualifications

If you have been educated outside Denmark there are a number of jobs in the building and construction industry that you may not carry out before your qualifications have been approved by the WEA. This applies for example if you are working with assembly and dismantling of scaffolding or interior demolition of asbestos.  

Read how to have your qualifications recognised and when this is required

Working with asbestos requires special precautions

Asbestos is present in many older buildings, for example in cladding panels for walls, ceilings and roofs, in pipe insulation, floor coverings and especially in products such as ventilation ducts containing asbestos, asbestos cement water pipes, sealants and plaster materials.

High pressure hosing and sandblasting of materials containing asbestos is prohibited.

Demolition work and maintenance and repairs, for example, of buildings where asbestos has been used, and any subsequent cleaning, are permitted if special precautionary measures are taken.

Indoor asbestos removal requires specially trained personnel.

Rules about accommodation in Denmark

Whether you, your employer or the main contractor provide accommodation in Denmark, there are rules that govern your living standards while working in Denmark. The rules apply whether you live on a camp-site at the construction site, at a hotel or in privately rented accommodation.

A Health and Safety Organisation is obligatory for most companies

If an employer employs at least 5 workers at a workplace and work continues for at least 14 days then cooperation on health and safety must take place through a Health and Safety organisation. 

Read more about the requirements for a Health and Safety organisation

Workplace risk assessment - an important tool

A workplace risk assessment is the company's tool for systematising its health and safety efforts. Among other things, a risk assessment is used to find and resolve any health and safety issues.

The WEA do not have to approve the company’s risk assessment, but will often check whether the risk assessment has been implemented as required by law. 

Read more about the requirements for a workplace risk assessment