How a Clean Construction Site Can Enhance Construction Safety

Ensuring that a construction site stays clean means that you are ensuring the safety of everyone that enters the construction area, as well as everyone that works on the site. Any debris that is left lying around could be a potential threat to someone’s safety and thus it is important that it should be cleared away as soon as possible. If the construction works with toxic materials and chemicals it is crucial that they should be disposed of properly. Not only would it be ethically wrong not to do it, but in many cases it could be illegal. If they are not disposed of properly they will become a threat to others and the environment.

A construction site that is not clean and properly organized inhibits productivity. With random debris scattered around, workers will become confused and start searching for tools and materials in the wrong places. If a disorganised construction site causes injury to one of the workers it impacts productivity even more since that worker will no longer be a part of the workforce.

A disorganised construction zone will also have a negative impact on your reputation. Debris and other materials lying around, causing injury to others and affecting your productivity will all create the image of inefficiency and laziness. If you’re able to show others that you can maintain an organized workplace and that you care about the safety of others and the environment, they will be more likely to put their trust in you and find your work credible.

How to properly clean up construction zones

There are many companies that offer construction site cleanup, but if you would like to do it yourself here are a few basic tips:

  1. Dust will build up everywhere during construction. Clean up dust using the following methods:
    • It is important to wear masks during construction to avoid the dust entering your lungs.
    • If the construction took place in a house, make sure to clean any air filters such as your home’s heating and air conditioning as these filters will have trapped dust.
    • Remove dust on walls by using a small wet towel and wrapping it around the base of the broom. Swipe it across the walls. Rinse the cloth frequently to prevent dust from staying behind.
    • Vacuum any carpets and furniture.
  2. Move large debris using trash cans or a larger container such as a dumpster if necessary. Many companies rent dumpsters to construction sites so finding one should be easy.
  3. Check all the nooks and crannies to make sure no dust or other residue stays behind.
  4. Check to make sure that there isn’t any extra paint that needs to be removed.
  5. If the construction area has interior masonry, make sure it is cleaned properly.
  6. Clean any and all appliances that are present on the construction site.
  7. Dispose of all trash and do a final check of the construction site to make sure it is properly cleaned.

Why Is Health and Safety on Construction Sites So Important?

Because to live is more important than to work. We work to live and not the other way around!

Construction is a risky profession with one of the highest fatality rate. 3% of workers (66,000) get inured at site while 4% (80,000) suffer from work related illness every year on the average. That’s some big number, isn’t it? Wrong. The industry has seen days much worse.

To gain some further insight into the problem, let’s crunch some more numbers from years gone by. Here are some official figures for the 2014-15 period. Have a look:

· 142 construction workers were killed while working on site

· 611,000 cases of injury – minor and major – took place within a construction site

· A whopping 27.3 million workdays were lost due to on site injury and illness

· The cost of these injuries and illness is estimated to be £14.3 billion

Good Health and Safety practice at sites ensures well-being of workers, companies, industry and society at large. Workers become safer and more productive whereas companies get bigger and more profitable. In a nutshell, it’s a win-win situation for everyone. Let’s dive in for detailed explanation.

How it benefits workers?

It saves them from fatalities. It’s certainly not a nice feeling being sick, injured or in extreme cases dead. There is no “loss of income” and a “high medical cost” to worry about. Moreover, it also boosts their morale, productivity and consequently career.

How it benefits Companies?

Fatalities at sites invite prosecution, bad press, decline in production and loss of revenue. Everyone avoids unsafe projects be it workers, customers or investors and thus it becomes all the more important for companies to care for health and safety of workers.

Prosecution is feared the most as it might delay or shelve the project resulting in loss of millions of pounds. Bad press is equally harmful as not only it turns customers away but also dent the reputation build over years.

Adopting Health and Safety standards also helps project be completed on budget and times. Safe and healthy workplace makes workers more efficient and this reflects well on the project. As per a survey by Research agency Glenigan, Historic 64% of construction project were completed on budget while a record 40% were over on time in 2015 thanks to the growing adoption of Health and Safety standards at sites.

How do we ensure health and safety standards at sites?

We do it by preventing unqualified access to site. We disqualify workers without proper health and safety training from working on sites. To prove you are a worker trained in safety, there is a CSCS Card to get. The trick is that you can’t get the card without attending a Health and safety awareness course and then passing a safety test which ensure you have developed the ability to ensure a safer and healthier site. Moreover, the card also certifies you are a competent worker with good knowledge of your trade.

Simple Ways to Improve Construction Site Safety

Construction site safety is an all-important facet of the construction industry. It is important to ensure the safety of the workers and staff on the construction team, whether it is building a new structure or demolishing an old one. It is crucial that they are protected from hazardous and toxic wastes. Construction site safety also involves taking steps to prevent accidents, injuries, and falls.

Although construction sites can be dangerous places, and statistics certainly prove that, taking meticulous and disciplined steps to ensure safety can prevent a lot of problems that are common now.

Even if a construction worker is not exposed directly to any hazardous waste, he could be exposed to it indirectly as part of his job. Any danger to the worker would depend on the duration and extent of the exposure to the hazardous material.

The kinds of dangers and illnesses and injuries that workers are exposed to on construction sites would differ from industry to industry. For example, brick masons could be prone to developing cement dermatitis and postural changes due to the heavy loads they carry (as do stonemasons).

Electricians could be exposed to solder fumes which contain heavy metals or asbestos dust. Insulation workers could be exposed to asbestos and other synthetic fibers that are harmful. Roofers can be exposed to roofing tar and excess heat.

There are different hazards for which construction site safety must be taken seriously. There are chemical hazards and physical hazards. Chemical hazards occur due to inhalation of vapors, gases, fumes, etc. Examples of this are bronchitis, asbestosis, silicosis, etc. It can also occur when chemicals get into contact with the skin, as in contact dermatitis and skin allergies. Those exposed to liquids and solvents could get neurological disorders. This is especially common among painters. Physical hazards could be due to heavy loads, noise, extreme cold or heat or barometric pressures. There can also be exposure to UV rays and radiation from welding. Strains, sprains, musculoskeletal disorders, etc., are common physical side effects. Falls, injuries and accidents are also common in construction sites.

In summation, here are a number of ways in which safety can be enhanced in construction sites, including the following:

  • Wearing well-designed protective clothing.
  • Wearing suitable footwear that can protect against unstable footing or slips.
  • Safe scaffolding.
  • Proper ventilation in sites. These would have to be mobile so that they could be taken anywhere, such as dust collectors mounted on trucks with their own power source, filters and fans. Measures such as these can reduce the exposure to toxic fumes and other hazardous gases.
  • Using material that absorbs sounds or reflects it will help to prevent noise-induced hearing damage.
  • Exposure to extremes of heat can be avoided by working at night, taking frequent breaks, drinking plenty of water, wearing sunscreen and sun-protective clothing, etc.
  • Emergency drills, first aid provision, and standby medical teams on site can help to provide immediate aid in the event of an accident and potentially reduce fatalities.

Safety Essentials for Active Construction Sites

In an ever-changing construction site, there are many variables to consider as far as safety management issues go. There are many risks inherent to the industry of construction, and these are difficult to manage, since the work itself is so fluid. The construction industry is considered one of the most dangerous in which to work. In the last several decades, several regulations have become standard for these sites, making them safer than ever. The generalized risk is not only to the workers, but to passersby as well as people within the general area of the site (in the case of environmental pollution).

Machinery

Heavy equipment is the lifeblood of most active construction sites. However, these machines can and do malfunction, which can cause injuries or fatalities. The first line of defense against injuries caused by equipment is clearly maintenance and training. Both of these in conjunction can go a long way to prevent heavy equipment failure.

Signage

Believe it or not, one of this biggest reminders of safety comes in the form of a warning sign. While there are those who will ignore signs posted around construction sites (these are the same people who need the “Coffee is hot” printed on cups), for the vast number of individuals, signage is followed.

Proper safety clothing and accessories

Wearing the proper clothing, as well as head, foot, eye, lung and ear protection has increased and is mandatory on most construction sites to meet regulations set forth by OSHA. In fact, regulations require that employers pay for all PPE (personal protection equipment) when needed on any construction job.

Barriers

The proper fencing keeps the public out of dangerous sites. Many construction accidents involving the public occur when untrained people are on a site and cause an event or chain of events that cascades into a disaster. Fences are also used in the case of a drainage ditch or silt collection pit to prevent accidental drowning in deeper water.

The general public is usually unaware of the guidelines needed to ensure construction site safety. However, reports of suspected and blatant violations can go a long way toward continuing to improve safety on construction sites and to protect the workers, neighbors and the environmental landscape around the active construction site. These reports can be made to the management of the company first. IF these reports do not improve the situation, a complaint can be filed with either the City or County or with OSHA.

Construction Site Safety Checklist

“What to wear” checklist:

• Wear Safety Glasses or Face Shields, whichever suits better, to protect your eyes from harmful exposures like dust, chemicals, flying particles, smokes and what not – especially if your job involves welding, cutting, grinding, nailing, concreting and chemical-related works.

• Use proper boots – insulated, water and skid proof – whatever protects you best. The right footwear protects you from skidding, crushing your feet, and being electrocuted.

• Gloves are essential to safely deal with sharp objects and toxic substances. Put on those that are fit and right – welding gloves for welding, heavy-duty rubber gloves for concrete work, and insulated gloves and sleeves should work exposes you to electrical hazards.

• Injury to the head is one of the most dangerous fatalities and one must wear a proper hard hat to avoid it. Do a regular check for dents or deterioration and replace it as soon as you find any.

Scaffolding checklist:

• Do a daily check on scaffolding to ensure its steady and solid with high weight capacity. Report to seniors and get it corrected if its damaged or weakened in any way.

• Never use uneven surface and unsteady objects – loose bricks, barrels or concrete boxes – as base for scaffolding.

• Avoid using scaffolding in bad weather: be it rain, snow or hailstorm.

Electric safety checklist:

• Check all electrical tools and equipment regularly for defects and wear and tear. Replace the ones that are faulty in any way.

• Only qualified and designated operators must have access to electrical equipment.

• Keep construction materials, workers and equipment at least 10-feet away from electrical power lines.

• Use double insulated electrical equipment. Ground them if they are not. Refrain from using Multiple plug adapters; it’s dangerous!

Hazard communication:

• Workers must be notified about dangerous areas and stuffs by marking them as such – put up posters, signage and barricades whatever is required. Heavy electric equipment, suspended loads, toxic chemicals, wet and slippery patches etc. are few such hazards that must be marked.

Crane, hoist and rigging equipment safety checklist:

• Barricade/swing areas within the crane’s swing radius.

• See to it that load and speed limit is never exceed.

• Conduct daily safety and maintenance inspection for crane machinery and other rigging equipment before they are put to use.

• Only properly trained and qualified operators should have access to cranes, hoisting and rigging equipment.

• Keep these machines well away from electric equipment and power lines.

There is another checklist I have saved for the last: verifying that every entrant to the site – worker or visitor – carries a valid CSCS Card. This is a great way to cut down on fatalities especially those resulting from lack of knowledge or attention. Have workers without proper CSCS Cards? Get them proper cards by booking a CSCS Test online.