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.

Four Reasons It Pays to Maintain a Clean Construction Site

When planning any construction project, it is important to plan the set up, completion of the project and cleanup of the site. When looking at cleaning up a construction zone it is important to address the final cleanup as well as the ongoing maintenance and cleanup needs that will be faced daily. There are several benefits of ongoing and effective construction site cleanup which include: added safety onsite, greater productivity, a better reputation in your community and better cost savings per project.

Safety

An active construction yard is full of various dangers inherent to the nature of the work with scaffolds, ladders, electricity and heavy equipment. These factors combined with debris onsite which is not properly put away or disposed of makes an already dangerous location more so. Materials not put away or disposed of collecting around the feet of workers creates an added risk for tripping and when carrying materials from place to place, the view of the ground can be obstructed, making the importance of this practice critical.

Productivity

Just as mother always said, “A place for everything and everything in its place,” such is the guideline on an active construction site. Best case scenario is that workers spend time looking for materials which were not put in their proper place, wasting man hours. Worst case scenario in this situation is that the area becomes unsafe or causes an accident, spill, or casualty to a passerby.

Reputation

Word of mouth is critical in any business and construction is no exception. Cleanup of a site – both during the active phase as well as at completion is one area in which the general public can see a measurable gauge by which to admire or disparage a construction company. With proper construction site cleanup practices, the public gains a favorable opinion of your company and can recommend your services to others.

Cost savings

When employees are safe and productive, the time needed to complete a project is decreased. Having a constant awareness of keeping your construction site cleaned up can lead to more profits for your company.

No matter which of the above are the most important to you, or is the most needed for your company, there are reasons to continuously keep your active construction sites cleaned up and free from debris and unwanted materials. This keeps your construction zone running more smoothly and effectively while protecting your workers, the neighbors to the site and the environment as a whole.

The 3 P’s to Having a Safe Construction Site

Maintaining a safe construction site requires constant diligence, from the planning stages to the final cleanup. Many construction companies develop a culture of safety in which managers and workers cooperate to create the safest workplace possible. This is possible when there is adequate communication and respect onsite. To create a culture of safety on active construction sites, three steps are critical – present, prepare and protect.

Present

Presenting the case for a safety culture in your construction company means to make sure that each employee is aware of not only local, state and federal safety regulations, but any additional measures which your company takes as well. This should take place not only in initial training sessions, but periodically throughout the year. Should there be a site or job which has specific safety hazards unique, training should presented prior to the groundbreaking for all employees who will be working on that site.

Prepare

Preparation goes beyond simply discussing the safety plan and having emergency plans in place. Sites should have back-up equipment if possible, be cleared of debris regularly, have all safety equipment and gear available for each employee as well as an extra set or two for any visitors, etc. Additionally, the site should have safety plans in effect to protect the area surrounding the site – streets or sidewalks if overhead work is necessary, fencing, signage, etc. Some sites have designated safety zone inspections or an employee who is designated as the safety supervisor for a particular zone. This gives added accountability and assistance for the members of your team and helps them to create a safer workplace.

Protect

Protecting your workers, the public and environment is a minute to minute occurrence and need on a safety culture minded construction site. Employees need to watch out for themselves, their co-workers, the general public, their equipment and the environment when working. Sometimes haste and being behind schedule can cause a critical safety step to be skipped or missed. Other risks to construction site safety include complacency – one works with the same equipment or doing the same task so much that their familiarity might cause them to be lees vigilant in regards to safety practices.

Using common sense and creating a culture of safety for your construction site can save both time and money for construction companies facing an uncertain future. The financial outlay of providing a safe environment in which your employees can function is minimal in comparison to time and money lost from a serious accident.

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.