By: Mark Wieland, Safety Consultant
Construction work can be one of the most dangerous professions. There are safety hazards all around the job sites that can be life-threatening if you aren’t following the proper procedures. It is essential to follow the best practices for construction safety when on the job. Below are five ways you can reduce workplace accidents and promote safety on the job site.
1. Provide Safety Training
Any and all construction workers should have full awareness of possible hazards and safety tips prior to entering the site. Before you allow workers or subcontractors on the construction site, proper safety training is necessary.
Although most construction workers gain knowledge of the site while there, it is important that they have the proper training before-hand. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has many safety training tips and online resources that can make safety education easier for your contracted employees.
You should give your employees both written and hands-on training. Within a field like construction, the proper training is essential to avoid possible fatalities that will hurt your construction business both ethically and financially. The longer a company goes without workplace injuries, the lower the cost of insurance. Don’t assume because someone has experience in the construction industry that they are well versed in everything. Safety training can only help increase any knowledge they may already have.
2. Proper On-site Equipment
Along with proper safety training, employees should be trained in the use of equipment. To form a work culture centered around construction site safety, you must provide workers with adequate work equipment. Workers should be wearing proper personal protective equipment (PPE). This gear is designed to endure rough conditions and hazards.
The proper equipment is needed for construction workers to prevent fatal errors. New hazards and safety concerns pop up as construction progresses. It is up to the site manager to ensure they have the proper gear based on the task at hand. For example, if employees are working around toxic chemicals, they should be equipped with protective gear like protective bodysuits, masks and anti-slip boots. Wearable technology is a game changer in construction. Some wearable technology improves comfort while others increase safety on construction sites and boost effectiveness while monitoring a project’s progress. These items can monitor and track a worker’s whereabouts and track their health conditions through monitoring things like heart rate and body temperature.
Proper equipment doesn’t only include wearable gear. Construction workers should also be provided with plenty of water to stay hydrated and a designated area for rest, especially in hot weather conditions. Keeping workers well informed and aware of the safety hazards and how to prevent them will make your construction site a safer and more efficient workplace.
3. Have Properly Trained and Designated Machine Operators
Another best practice for construction safety is having designated heavy equipment operators who undergo special training. It is extremely important to conduct proper training for operating machinery. The larger or more complex the machine, the more in-depth the training should be. Something as simple as getting in and out of machinery can be fatal, so the more training, the better.
Falls are the leading cause of fatalities in construction. Workers should be trained on how to operate heavy machinery like ladders, deck screens, elevators, belt feeders and others even if it seems redundant. Workers should be assessed periodically to ensure that the machinery is being handled properly. It is also important to keep non-operators away from working machinery areas.
4. Implement Good Housekeeping Practices
Housekeeping and worksite safety go hand-in-hand to make one of the most important construction safety practices. Housekeeping practices implies that a workplace is kept in an organized, uncluttered, and hazard-free condition. Housekeeping is an essential component to workplace safety and sometimes it is disregarded.
Poor housekeeping can contribute to on-site accidents. Construction sites should be cleaned of any clutter, debris, spills and dust. Organization is just as important as cleanliness, with good housekeeping practices, accidents like tripping over loose objects or slipping on wet surfaces can be avoided. Keeping a site clean and organized is an ongoing operation and should be done throughout the workday.
5. Know Basic Medical Procedures
It is recommended by OHSA to have a trained first aid provider (construction worker) on site or a strict procedure to follow in case of an emergency. First aid providers should receive training that includes basic first aid, CPR and the use of an automated external defibrillator (AED).
Every construction site differs with its own unique hazards and risk that can change daily as progress is made. As a part of your company’s safety plan, it is important to identify possible injuries and how to address them. This will allow you to properly train your workers and prepare first aid kits necessary supplies. All construction workers should be educated on what to do in case an accident occurs, even if they aren’t trained in providing first aid. Conditions of construction sites change swiftly and it is important to make the adjustment to your safety program as necessary.
Providing a safe working environment for your workers doesn’t have to be overcomplicated. With the proper planning and preparation, creating a safer job site is something that can be easily incorporated into your preconstruction planning process and duplicated on all your future projects.