Construction workers are continuously exposed to hazards as they repair or alter an old building or construct a new structure. Any neglect by the worker or the construction company can put the worker in life-threatening situations. The workers may fall off a multi-story structure or a rooftop, be wounded or injured by machinery and heavy construction equipment, or risk electrocution due to bare electrical wiring. In addition, work sites may expose workers to strong chemicals and substances like silica dust and asbestos.
Often workers’ safety is compromised to save labor costs. However, responsible companies realize the importance of ensuring the safety and security of their employees and take steps to safeguard their worker’s well-being. Whether this change in approach is due to awareness of their corporate social responsibility or stringent construction worker safety laws, the change is a welcome one.
For all the companies involved in the construction work and the people working for them, here are some measures that can help make their work site less dangerous.
1. Mandate the use of personal protective equipment (PPE)
Construction workers are most prone to construction site accidents such as injuries to the eyes, face, etc. It is also possible to inhale harmful gases and minute particles in the air. Therefore, there are strict rules for all workers to wear personal protective equipment such as masks, knee pads, respirators, vests, eye protection, noise mufflers, face shields, etc.
Some countries like Canada have extensive guidelines for personal protective equipment to ensure sufficient protection for workers against workplace hazards. For instance, to make eye protection, companies must comply with Canadian safety standards ANSI Z87.1 and CSA 294.3. You can find prescription safety glasses by searching online for “Prescription safety glasses Canada” to locate safety equipment purveyors who can provide ANSI and CSA-certified safety goggles that accommodate a worker’s vision. It would eliminate an additional issue of wearing safety gear on top of prescription glasses.
Wearing protective equipment might seem trivial, but it is essential in protecting construction workers' lives. When buying PPE or accepting it from their employers, the workers must enquire about the requisite safety standards. Then make sure their protective gear is clean, sturdy, and conforms to work site safety standards.
2. Integrate technology with the safety measures
While personal protective equipment is essential for construction workers, integrating technology increases its ability to ensure worker safety. For instance, many construction companies are embedding IoT sensors into PPE. These sensors help construction companies locate construction hazards such as vibrations, temperature changes, chemical fumes, smoke, and surges and dips in workers’ heart rates and send these signals to the backend team for further interpretation of data.
Integrating this technology into protective gear allows the company to monitor the health condition of the worker and the hazards present in the work environment. These advanced technological applications not only help workers but companies too in reducing physical and financial losses.
3. Follow the environmental updates
Another important way to ensure workers’ safety is to stay informed about the weather and environmental updates. Workers working under the scorching heat of the sun can fall ill. Similarly, rain can make a construction site more dangerous by increasing the chances of falls on slippery floors, electrocution, etc. Therefore, you must know nature’s moods and take measures to avert such accidents. The construction manager must be ready to respond promptly in such a situation and halt work if needed.
4. Keep the workplace clean
A clean workplace is a safe workplace; there are no two views about it. Construction sites are generally inundated with materials such as sacks of cement, concrete, bricks, etc. On top of that, they often produce rubble and hazardous material. The dust and debris of these materials can be toxic and cause irreparable damage to health. Therefore, keeping the construction site hazard free must hold paramount importance. Also, wear a respirator and eye protection when cleaning the area to avoid contact with dust.
5. Construct the scaffolding correctly
Scaffolding is the structure that construction workers use to work in elevated areas. It is made with poles tied vertically and horizontally to create a mesh structure. When constructed properly, scaffolding is a pretty strong structure. But if you get careless while erecting scaffolding, the resultant hazard is often life-threatening. Injuries from falls, including scaffolding, are one of the reasons for workplace accidents and are so frequent that it accounts for 47% of construction worker injuries.
Make sure to erect the scaffolding on even and firm ground. Also, check any structural inconsistencies or damage and get it repaired before climbing on it. Additionally, a construction manager must provide proper training to workers for using the scaffolding.
6. Place Safety signs and instructions
On a construction site, there are dangerous spots not for the workers but for the general public too. All the safety signs must be displayed appropriately, telling workers and the public about hazards such as the risk of falls, electrocution, falling objects, wet floor, presence of gas/chemicals, etc. Signs and posters are a cost-effective way to keep your worker and the public safe from constriction site hazards.
7. Inspect the tools and equipment regularly
Using tools and equipment like drills, saws, cutters, hammers, blowers, etc., is indispensable for construction workers. Working with malfunctioning or broken tools can pose a considerable health risk. For instance, if the blade in one of your saws is not fitted correctly, it may break during use and cause a fatal injury. All the equipment used on the construction site must be frequently inspected for any loose or broken parts by the construction workers and the site manager.
8. Promote open communication
Lack of communication among the workers and between workers and site managers is often the cause of many health hazards and accidents. Workers must communicate with each other or the responsible party if they find any health risks. Any changes in the safety protocols or if a spot on the site is considered dangerous, the manager must call a meeting and tell all the workers about it. Also, worksite managers and supervisors must frequently test all emergency procedures and protocols to ensure they are functionally relevant.
9. Establish entry and exit points
On the construction site, signs must identify entry and exit routes for the workers, heavy machinery, and vehicles. Make sure to segregate both from one another to ensure pedestrian and worker safety.
10. Ensure ladder safety
Ladder safety is another concern for construction workers. You have to ensure that the ladders you are using are dry, strong, and free from corrosion. Also, the ladder you use must be taller than the place you want to climb up to and fall protection must be in place while you climb the ladder.
Construction workers' safety is an essential requirement on any construction site. Ensuring the well-being of construction workers is the responsibility of the site manager and the construction workers themselves. They have to ensure that they get the required PPE from the site manager, that the ladder and the scaffolding they use are strong, and all the safety protocols are in place.