Safety Best Practices
The construction industry represents a significant segment of the global economy and is continuously growing. Safety measures in this sector, however, are still far from ideal.
Construction sites are dangerous. Any construction worker will tell you so, and so does the numbers. The construction sector annually ranks among the highest in work-related deaths, averaging around 1,000 deaths every year in the US.
There’s little or no protection from the environment, there might be a lack of PPE, workers might not be properly trained, the equipment might be faulty. All this may be due to workers being unaware of the risks involved in a particular action, or it could be through sheer negligence or complacency, cutting corners hoping nobody will notice and nobody will get hurt. While responsibility rests on managers, foremen, and supervisors to be vigilant and up-skill newbies when necessary so these problems are avoided, all stakeholders should take responsibility for site safety.
Taking a proactive approach to construction safety requires management to ensure that every team member is invested in the process. An inclusive attitude will help determine the best ways to minimize risks.
Personal protective equipment (PPE) is an essential part of a construction safety system and refers to all equipment worn by construction workers to provide protection against health and safety risks whilst on site.
There are various types of PPE and each is designed to protect a particular part of the body, against a particular hazard. Risk assessment is an effective way to identify the hazards and determine the most suitable protective gear.
Personal protective equipment (PPE) provides protection from health risks, which can enter the body, via these routes of exposure:
There is protective equipment for every role on a construction site – from earplugs to prevent hearing loss, to gloves for operating chainsaws, from goggles for debris, safety vests for visibility, safety harnesses for fall protection, and steel-toed boots, to the construction staple, the hard hat.
A clean construction site is a safe construction site. It’s critical to maintain strict procedures for keeping order on-site. An unsafe worksite can easily lead to accidents, like a slip and fall. Poorly stacked supplies can fall and cause severe injury.
A few ways workers can minimize risks with cleanliness and order include:
Proper signage is not only about the message, but also about the location. Signs are vital to on-site safety measures, like letting workers know where to find emergency exits and fire extinguishers. They also provide crucial warnings, like high voltage, flammable materials, or hot surfaces.
Safety signs are color-coded for specific types of warnings, like the use of mobile phones or smoking in specific areas, for example.
Weather can present serious dangers on the job. A strong wind, for example, can sway an unsecured crane, sending debris tumbling on workers at ground level, or triggering a worker’s fall due to insufficient harness support.
Freezing weather can cause frostbite, while the blazing summer can lead to a risk of heat stroke and dehydration. Lightning can cause an electrical fire, and if mixed with water, exposed live wires can place workers at risk of electrocution.
Extreme weather conditions are all the more reasons to have strong safety measures to deal with every scenario. Using storm sirens and paying attention to weather forecasts are important aspects of safety awareness.
Every year, workers are crushed by moving parts left unsecured, run over by improperly trained operators, and suffer severed limbs from improperly marked equipment.
Poorly maintained machinery is an avoidable danger. Proper safety procedure means regular maintenance, inspections, and combing the site with a safety checklist regularly.
Adequate machine safeguarding means locking moving parts, interlocks, and device-specific protections. All equipment should be clearly marked, warnings placed in plain view, and only fully trained workers should ever operate heavy equipment like forklifts, dump trucks, or cranes. Proper upkeep and vigilant supervisions are critical safety measures and required elements of every site’s construction safety management process.
Falls from ladders can lead to broken bones, brain injuries, and paralysis, among other injuries. Following worker safety rules when using ladders on the job means always using the right ladder. This means every employee needs training in the proper use of ladders.
Ladders should always be placed on flat ground. Workers should always have at least 3 limbs touching the ladder at all times, observing proper leaning angles based on the ladder’s height. Ladders should never be used in place of properly constructed scaffolding. It might not seem important, but proper inspections for ladder conditions and placement can save hundreds of workers from injuries every year.
Chemicals pose a substantial safety risk. Workers can get burned or blinded by leaks or splashes. They can have lifelong respiratory issues. Moreover, chemicals can easily catch fire and cause explosions. Chemicals can even cause cancer and impair one’s reproductive capabilities.
As part of your safety measures, all chemicals need to be properly labeled and stored. Proper chemical handling and disposal need to be a part of every company’s safety plan – reviewing risks, planning for emergencies, observing warning signs like oxidation, and being prepared for fast (but safe) clean-up when necessary.
A safety training plan that speaks to the specific needs of your workforce is an effective intervention to prevent accidents and injuries. But just as each project is different, each safety plan will require adjustments to better respond to specific on-site conditions.
While tempting, a “one size fits all” approach will prove counterproductive. You’ll be left with an increasingly rigid system that’ll be unresponsive to the realities on the ground. A continuous and flexible training regimen can save time, money, and lives.
While safety managers have the responsibility to ensure safer job sites and OSHA outlines the basic safety protocols that should be observed, Salus solutions are revolutionizing safety in the construction industry and are uniquely positioned to make your construction safety visible, efficient and inclusive.
Salus provides management with digital forms that include filters and search functions, audit preparedness, and every real-time feature it takes to go 100% paperless with their safety systems. With our mobile safety app, users can log in to their accounts and collaborate with their safety officers to ensure a safer workplace.
Managers can create forms, automate tasks, and track compliance in real-time. Our flexible suite of features in one central hub means you can construct accessible data files; set schedules, reminders, and watchlists; ensure COVID restrictions are observed, and even monitor compliance management at any time.
Schedule a Salus demo today and make construction safety a top and ongoing priority with your words and actions.