Research studies report that there are over 15,000 construction site related injuries every year. Some of the accidents are minor while others are fatal. There are always risks involved when you work at heights, near deep holes, or next to mobile equipment but this doesn’t mean that you can’t be safe when working. To help you out, here are tips on how to be safe when working on the construction site:
Wear the right protective equipment
The factories act requires every employer to provide protective equipment to every worker. The personal protective equipment (PPE) can be classified into two broad categories: minimum personal protective equipment and additional personal protective equipment.
The minimum PPE includes the equipment that you must have on the construction site. They include:
Safety glasses: They protect you from debris filled in the air as a result of the activities on the site.
Hard hat/helmet: You should wear a helmet all the time to protect yourself from any objects that might fall on you.
Hard gloves: They protect you from cuts when you are handling the construction materials, cleaning the equipment, cutting metals, and engaging in any other activity.
Vests: Also known as high visibility shirts, these units keep you visible so that the other workers easily see you. This is important when there is heavy machinery involved such as cranes.
Safety vests come in different bright colors such as red, green, and yellow making it easy for other workers to locate you.
Proper clothing: In addition to the above, you also need to wear long pants, hard shoes such as steel toe work boots and shirt.
These are equipment that you don’t necessarily need, but they increase your safety. They include:
Hearing protection: These are important when you are working in areas of loud noises. The rule of thumb is that if you are 2 feet away from somebody and you have to shout when talking, you should wear hearing protection.
Respiratory protection: Here you need a dust mask that increases safety and makes you more comfortable when working with fiber glass, fire proofing materials, handling debris, and cleaning the floors.
Face shields: You wear these along with safety glasses. The guard is necessary when you are working in a spark producing activity, high debris environment, grinder, and other related activities. The shield protects your face from the harmful materials.
Safety harness: A harness is made from cable, rope, or locking hardware. The harness is an attachment between a mobile and fixed object and comes in handy in protecting you from a fall. It also frees your hands when you are working in a hanging position.
For peace of mind when using the protective gear, ensure that all the equipment follow the standardized benchmark. The equipment should always be properly inspected before use. In addition to providing the equipment to the employees, you should also regularly provide safety training.
At least once every three months, train the workers on how to use and maintain the equipment. Also, take every new employee through training.
Be cautious of electrical connections
Another way of avoiding accidents at the construction site is being careful of electrical connections. There are many ways in which you can prevent electricity-related accidents. Some of these ways include:
Install electrical signs: This looks like a basic thing, especially if you have a lot of experience working with electrical sites. However, you cannot lose sight of the basics like high voltages on electrical equipment. You should place the signs in all the areas where the employees are more likely to be injured.
Conduct a risk assessment: The law requires the person in charge to carry out a risk assessment before the construction work begins. This way, all potential electrical hazards are identified.
The next thing the person in charge needs to do is put the necessary control measures in place, and avail the results of the assessment to all the employees who will be working on the site.
If you are an employee, you need to read the results of the risk assessment keenly. This way, you are aware of the hazards that are available in the working area.
Even if you may be experienced in handling electrical equipment at construction sites, it is important to appreciate the fact that each location has different hazards that are unique to it.
Familiarize yourself with the electrical service maps: Electrical service maps show the location of cables, electrical, or potentially hazardous wires within or near the construction site.
The local council usually issues them. You should visit the local council offices and get the map. Before you project begins, let the workers know the location of the electrical hazards and also install signs to let them know about it.
Read the SSoW: This will be very necessary if you will be working with or near live electricity. The SSoW (safe system of work) should be set out by the employer. It specifies the skills, knowledge, and competence that you need to handle the task. Ensure that you meet the requirements.
Undertake training: Sometimes, your employer may require you to undertake a particular training before you begin working with electrical equipment at the construction site. Make sure that you do undergo the training as required.
As the employer, you should provide the training to the employees. You should let them know the dangers available and what they need to do to avoid them. You also should train them on what to do in the event someone gets injured.
Do not handle electrical equipment unless you are trained and competent: The law requires that you be qualified and trained to operate electrical equipment. You need to be able to do a quick visual inspection and know what is out of place, exposed, or missing.
You should be able to use residual current devices, reduce voltage supply where necessary, and ensure that isolation devices are working correctly. You also should be able to identify electrical equipment that shows signs of damage.
Communicate with relevant partners: If you are working near overhead power lines, contacting the local electricity company on how to proceed safely becomes a necessary safety measure. It may be a smart move to request that the power lines be switched off before construction work begins.
If you need to work near or with underground cables, communicate with relevant partners too, including the highways authority and council. They should provide up to date maps of buried lines.
Where necessary, wear personal protective equipment: to reduce the chances of getting injured wear protective boots and gloves.
Re-inspect the work area and working equipment
Plenty of accidents are reported resulting from objects that fall on the workers. The most common culprits being scaffolding materials. To avoid this, you should always inspect and respect the work areas and the working equipment. This is to ensure that they are all in good condition.
Check the scaffolding materials to ensure that they have a strong base. Also, inspect the ladders and ensure that they are also in perfect condition. If wobbly, or in poor condition, protect your workers by stalling the project.
If you will be using lifts and cranes at the site, inspect them and confirm that they are all in perfect shape.
Also, re-inspect the work areas for any dangerous materials such as nails and others that might hurt the workers while they are working.
Invest in training
Even if you have been with your workers for a long time you need to educate them as you are in a different location. Give all the employees the material safety data sheets (MSDS) so that they can understand the equipment and chemicals they will be working with at the new site.
You also should educate them on how to protect themselves when using these chemicals and materials. In addition to asking the workers to read the materials, it’s also wise to go through the training with them. If you don’t have the time to do it, ask a professional to help you out.
The training should cover all areas of the construction site. This includes: fall hazards at the site, proper erection of the materials, use of the fall protection systems, inspection of the protection systems, personal fall arrest systems, and any other details that might be necessary for the safety of the workers.
For the training to be effective, you should have practical lessons. For example, when training the employees how to avoid falling objects, have a demonstration and ensure that everyone understands it.
You shouldn’t leave anything to chance. If there is anything that the workers don’t understand, go over it again.
Provide the necessary protective gear
It’s one thing to require the workers to wear the protective gear and an entirely different thing to have them in place. As the site supervisor or project owner, it’s your responsibility to provide the protective gear. You also should educate the workers on how to wear the gear for maximum safety properly.
Provide first air services
Even with the best protective measures in place, it’s common for accidents to happen. To prevent the condition from getting worse, provide first aid services at the construction site. This calls for you to have a qualified first aid provider in place to provide the services when required.
In addition to the services preventing the infection from spreading, it also ensures that the workers return to work as soon as possible. It’s only if the accident is major and complicated should you refer the employee to a larger health facility.
Other beneficial construction site safety tips
In addition to the above safety tips, there are plenty of many other tips that you can use to make the construction site safer. These include:
- Place safety signboards around the construction sites. This is to remind the workers to exercise safety when working.
- To avoid accidents resulting from electrical mishaps, use high quality, properly insulated electrical cable.
- More accidents are reported in areas without a fence; therefore, consider installing a fence at the construction site. The wall doesn’t need to be permanent, but it should be strong. It can be made from timber, metal, metal sheets, or any other material.
- Confirm that the materials used on the construction site are of high quality. Of primary importance, ensure that the scaffolding materials are of high quality. This is because, plenty of construction site accidents result from poorly constructed scaffolding. For peace of mind that the materials are in good condition, make a habit of regularly inspecting them.
- Be cautious of fire. Most of the people put a lot of emphasis on machine and tool safety that they forget about the danger of fire. Due to the presence of flammable materials at the construction site, keep open flames from the location as much as you can.
- To have an easy time controlling the fire, have a bucket of sand and water at the site ready for fire-fighting. You also should have a fire extinguisher at the site. When undertaking the training mentioned above, train every person on the site how to properly use the extinguisher.
- Match the tool to the job. You not only risk injuring yourself when you use the wrong tool for the job, but you also risk damaging the tool that you are using, and you have to purchase another. For example, when you use a framing hammer instead of a claw hammer, you end up damaging it. You also don’t get the results you want. Even if a given tool can do a given role, don’t use it if that’s not the role it was designed for.
- Have regular safety meetings. When you are performing your job, it’s common to forget about safety. To remind the workers about it, you should regularly have the safety meetings. For example, you should have the meetings at the beginning of the week.
- During this time discuss both the general and specific safety measures that everyone on the site should observe. If you have had an accident the previous week, go over it and let the other workers know how to avoid it from happening on them.
- During the meetings, introduce any new equipment that you might be using in the project. As rule of thumb, train the people that will be using them.
- Train new workers. When new employees join your team, you shouldn’t assume that they know about the safety even if they have worked in similar sites before. When they join you, you should assume that they don’t know anything. Take your time to go around the site with them and introduce them to all the site aspects. As rule of thumb don’t ask the other workers to educate them.
It’s the responsibility of the employees and employers to ensure that there is safety at the construction site. As the employer, you should provide the necessary protective gear and training.
The worker, on the other hand, should properly use the gear and be cautious at the site. To reduce the chances of accidents, you shouldn’t work at a site with limited lighting. You also shouldn’t fidget with machinery and powered tools.