Did you know that about 20% of worker deaths in the US are in construction? This is concerning as construction employees make up only 6% of the total US labor force. Keep in mind that fatal injury rates in the construction industry are considerably higher than workplace injuries in any other industry.
Do you worry about the safety and well-being of your employees and construction workers? As a contractor or business owner, one of the biggest challenges for you is to make sure there are no weak spots in your written construction site safety policies or how they are being enforced.
Construction professionals and construction workers, such as tile setters and floor installers, spend so much time on job sites that they easily feel complacent. However, don't forget that ignoring basic safety precautions and measures can quickly and easily lead to catastrophic injuries or costly and time-consuming delays, and you don't want that. This is why construction site safety and occupational safety are important and you should use construction site safety tips, including a workplace safety program and safety net systems, to keep construction workers safe.
Injury, illnesses, long-term damage, and mental health issues are a few of the main negative outcomes that construction contractors and site managers have to prevent.
In this article, we will share some useful and simple safety tips and safety topics that will help you set an excellent example for your employees and team and simultaneously show to your clients that safety is important in your construction operations and you cannot underestimate construction site safety.
Safety Threats on a Construction Site for construction workers
As a construction contractor or business owner, you may know that your workers are usually exposed to a wide range of hazards, such as chemical spills and electrical work hazards, which can increase their risk of death or injury on a construction project. Risks to construction employees include machinery malfunctions, structural collapses, falls from height, electrocution, power lines and falling objects, which makes protecting workers essential.
The Risk of Collapse
In many cases, fall hazards can be a death sentence for workers on a construction site. It is best to be completely aware of any site specifics so that you and your employees can be adequately prepared for what structures may be around during work.
While they are not as immediately observable as other construction site hazards, note that chemicals can be very dangerous for your workers and sometimes even fatal.
Crucial Aspects of Construction Site Safety
Here are five important aspects of construction site safety all professionals must know.
1. Provide High-Quality Training
You should know that worker safety training is one of the simplest and best ways to prevent injuries and accidents on-site. Employers must provide safety training to construction and building workers as part of occupational health and safety (OHS).
These training sessions may cover basic things such as the proper use of ladders and fall protection. And the main goal is to make sure that everyone is adequately trained and knows about the workplace safety program and hazard communication. And after these training sessions, your workers should know and understand what safety measures, such as electrical safety, to implement in the case of an incident.
Topics of your training program should cover the nature of various fall hazards common on construction sites, adequate erection, maintenance, and inspection of fall protection systems, and the role of workers in safety monitoring and fall protection plans.
Make sure your workers attend regular safety training sessions about construction and job safety throughout the year to maintain construction site safety.
2. Use the Proper Equipment
While training and conducting safety inspections help create a safe workspace for your employees, it is just as important to provide contractors and employees with properly functioning and safe equipment with the best features.
Remember that construction workers with shoddy equipment or improper gear will likely make fatal errors and mistakes.
As a business owner, you should ensure that each piece of construction equipment on your job site is ideally suited to the task at hand. You also have to make sure that all machinery and equipment are well maintained.
When workers run machinery with faulty valves or climb ladders with broken hinges, they face an increased risk of an accident. This is why all tools, vehicles, and equipment need routine inspection before each use as well as scheduled preventative maintenance. This is important, as it will keep everyone safe and limit the amount of asset downtime.
You will be pleased to know that modern equipment usually comes with enhanced safety features, and you should consider your options when buying new equipment for your construction site.
Personal Protective Equipment
Also, all construction workers should have their personal protective equipment (PPE). This includes clothing, safety glasses, and paraphernalia. Protective equipment is important in the construction industry to minimize safety and health hazards involved.
- Helmets: Must be supplied for head protection on the construction site and worn at all times.
- Safety Glasses: They protect workers against debris and dust in the air.
- Proper clothing: Clothing must be appropriate for outdoor or indoor work and to seasons.
- Footwear: Shoes or boots need to have anti-slip properties in order to reduce risk.
3. Know First Aid Protocols for construction sites
As an employer or construction business owner, you are responsible for first aid attention in the workplace. And to determine the unique first aid needs and requirements of your worksite, you will have to do an assessment and keep staff safe with protective systems and safety professionals.
After that, you can review all the findings and take the necessary measures to put adequate first aid procedures and policies in place for your workers. This is where safety professionals can help.
For example, in the construction industry, it is best practice to have one first aid officer per 25 workers. You should also have safety professionals and place first aid kits and other equipment in an easily accessible area on site. Construction firms should concentrate on worker’s safety. The safety and health of employees is paramount.
Having the correct protective gear will help improve safety and protect against on site injury. A protective system will prevent employees from being struck by hazards, ensure safety and increase organizational performance. Following frequently cited standards, common hazards such as electric shock from power lines are one of the safety topics that should be discussed.
In case an accident occurs, you must make medical first aid services readily available for all employees.
Key First Aid Requirements
- Medical and safety professionals and experts must be available for consulting or examining matters and issues relating to health and well-being
- First-aid kits and supplies must be available when they are needed.
- If your construction site is at a great distance from a hospital or private practicing clinic, a person who is first-aid certified must be present.
4. Promote Good Workplace Practices
There are many safety hazards and risks around construction sites that can be fatal or life-threatening if you don't follow the proper procedures. It is essential to follow the best safety programs and practices to maintain a secure space. This is where safety professionals can help improve your workers' welfare and avoid possible accidents.
You have to promote a culture of worker safety, and once you have decided on your desired values, attitudes, goals, and practices, it is important to communicate this safety culture to your team. For example, your workplace practices must emphasize that chemicals and volatile and hazardous substances must be stored carefully to minimize explosions, fires, asphyxiation, and chemical injury on worksites.
Encourage the use of top-quality, compliant outdoor storage solutions like explosive storage cabinets in order to segregate chemicals and reduce the risk of spills.
Another good workplace practice for construction work safety is to have designated heavy equipment operators who undergo regular and proper training.
Your workplace safety practices can also encourage the use of video tools and cameras. And your employees can share knowledge of workplace hazards, alert relevant safety departments, and be actively involved in mitigating various job site hazards and risks.
To promote and enforce good workplace safety practices and safety rules, your safety policies should be in writing, and you should share them with every worker or member of your team. The written policy manual can include OSHA standards for each area that applies to your kind of construction specialization, including basic safety procedures, safety standards, and tips to reduce workplace accidents.
5. Maintain an Occupational Safety Plan
We can define a construction safety plan as a comprehensive document that outlines the rules, procedures, and regulations that are to be put in place in order to protect workers over the duration of construction projects.
Here are some elements that are often included in a safety plan:
- Policy or goals statement
- A list of responsible persons
- Emergency and safety contact information
- A description of site location and condition
All construction sites should have a comprehensive and detailed safety plan. Also, this document should be dynamic. This means that you must constantly update it to reflect changes to personnel or protocols.
While a general safety manual is a good beginning, every construction site has unique and different challenges as well as some common risks. This is why you should also develop safety plans specific to a particular construction site when beginning to work on a new project.
You should outline and explain various safety measures, such as storage locations for the site, exit and entrance lanes, any site-specific risks and potential hazards, and more.
Conclusion: How to Mitigate Liability
Generally, at all levels of construction, you should use risk management on a dynamic basis in order to prevent incidents, providing a safe working environment for everyone. Construction work is inherently risky and dangerous, as it often involves the use of powerful equipment and tools, loading and unloading bulky materials and machinery, and occasionally working at great heights.
While general contractors and most construction companies and construction firms can mitigate these risks with training, current information, and proper equipment, workplace accidents are inevitable and do happen. This is why general contractors and employers must carry General Liability Insurance in most states. However, do you think it is sufficient to cover all potential claims, lawsuits, and legal and medical expenses?
If you are not sure about the best coverage against insurance claims, your questions can be answered by experienced insurance agents at FarmerBrown.com.