steel erection

Guide to Construction Steel Erection Safety

Steel building erection is considered one of the most dangerous construction jobs out there. Some of these risks are immediate, like falling off of worksites or being crushed by equipment. In some cases, they aren’t as immediately apparent, like muscle strain from repetitive tasks or cuts and burns from working with steel. All of these should be avoided, both for obvious health reasons and efficiency reasons. Having to halt a project due to an accident costs your company extra money and makes it more difficult to reach objectives on time. So, how can steel erection projects be safer? Here’s some essential advice to get started.

steel erection

Hold Regular Toolbox Talks

In some cases, there are safety discussions that you want to have with your time, but you don’t necessarily want to call a formal meeting. Toolbox talks are a key option that steel erection companies use that fits neatly into this designation. Your average toolbox talk is simply an informal talk that team leaders hold with their workers to talk about safety issues and other points before the work shift/a project starts.

These practices are so useful because they can cover a lot of information and have several benefits. For example, a series of toolbox talks allow a steel erection team to:

  • -Refresh on basic safety rules
  • -Make sure all team members are on the same page
  • -Discuss any safety issues on site
  • -Ensure safety checks were performed
  • -Serve as an overall morale booster

It can be tough for management teams and field workers to communicate directives, and toolbox talks are essential to make sure those directives are put into terms everyone can understand. In some cases, they are actually legally required.

Have The Right Equipment For The Job

It’s easy for the layman to simply assume that protective equipment for steel erection begins and ends with a hard hat and fall protection gear. While these are essential, this is far from the only equipment that you want to invest in. Other examples of equipment that all your workers should have are:

  • -Safety shoes
  • -Protective eyewear
  • -Work gloves
  • -Hearing protection
  • -Environment-appropriate clothing (multiple layers to protect from cold, life jackets for work over water, etc.)
  • -Tool lanyards to keep you from dropping misplaced tools

Ideally, you want to encourage workers to have their own PPE, but you should also have a company stockpile. No one should have to go without safety equipment due to shortage or loss.

Keep Ergonomics In Mind

In many ways, muscle and back strain is the forgotten safety issue on steel erection worksites. Because it doesn’t immediately halt the project or put anyone at risk, it’s easy for some to just ignore it and move on. However, repeated muscle strain can eventually render a steelworker unable to fulfill the lifting and maneuvering that are a part of their job. This doesn’t even mention the impact on their quality of life outside of work. 

Because of this, it’s important that you emphasize the importance of ergonomics while working. When moving steel components into place, make sure your workers are letting the hoists do the bulk of the work. Proper communication between the hoist operator and steelworker can save a lot of unnecessary movement. Even with smaller tools, there’s the potential for injury through vibration. If your workers notice issues like tingling and numbness in their fingers, be sure to act accordingly rather than ignore it. In addition, all workers should avoid staying in awkward positions for prolonged periods of time and take regular breaks.

steel erection
Photo By Praphan Jampala

Keep Track Of Regulations And Codes

A safety violation can still have consequences, even if no one gets hurt. If an industry inspector or similar figure was to note safety violations, this could mean legal and financial consequences. In addition, there’s a major PR hit to your company as well. In some cases, companies are found in violation because they are sticking to old rules after a new set has been introduced. There should always be a point of contact in your company tasked with keeping up with new industry regulations. Toolbox talks are a great way to disseminate that information to field teams.

Be Ready To Have Conversations After Safety Incidents

In some cases, a safety issue may happen despite your best measures. In this situation, it doesn’t make organizational sense to try and point fingers, even if the consequences were extreme. Instead, a problem-solving approach is the best way to handle things fruitfully. What exactly happened that led to the safety incident, and what can be done to make sure it doesn’t happen again?

For example, let’s say that workers were regularly jumping up to a certain point rather than using a ladder because it was more convenient, and someone eventually mistimes their jump and hurts themselves. The first obvious course of action will be reminding the team about the importance of adhering to proper protocol. However, it may also make sense to reevaluate the ladder placement. What led the team to decide potentially unsafe behavior was more efficient for them? A safety incident post-mortem is generally a series of answering questions. 

Consider Investing In Project Management Software

Project management software may not provide direct support for steel erection safety, but it is a critical supplement component for a variety of reasons. For one thing, in order to improve your safety guidelines, you need an easily accessible record of safety issues, how you addressed them, and whether or not those methods were effective. By using cloud storage, it’s easy for your business to let everyone look at the business’s safety history. This same mentality applies to making new safety directives and news easy to find.

If you are looking for a project management software launchpad, you’d be hard-pressed to find something more effective than eSub. Not only do we offer cloud storage to help with safety records and communications, but we combine it with many other features like financial analysis. However, if safety is your main source of focus for erecting steel columns, our modular style means you can just buy the one item you need.