Construction site safety is one of the most overlooked things during a construction project. In most workplaces, accidents are a nuisance for the worker and a headache for HR. However, at construction sites, accidents have the potential to be life-threatening. With every new story about environmental disasters, earth-shattering explosions, and trapped laborers, construction sites become less and less appealing — even as the population grows and demands new, updated structures increases.
Construction work is one of the most dangerous professions. And work on the job site is where most accidents occur. Employers do need to mitigate safety hazards to construction workers, but workers need to keep in mind a lot of precautions themselves when working in such hazardous conditions. Thus, construction industry leaders must strive to safeguard their employees — if not for ethical reasons, then for the economic ones. Here are eight ways construction businesses can reduce workplace accidents and promote construction site safety.
Before any worker — no matter his or her role or experience level — can set foot on a construction site, he or she must be fully aware of the possible hazards. Ignorant workers are perhaps the biggest dangers in any industry, as their unknowing mistakes put everyone else at risk. Understanding of perils at hand and sustaining a perpetual state of alertness is perhaps the number-one best way to prevent accidents. To become aware of such risks and how to avoid them, see OSHA Safety Check Lists. Every single person that steps foot onto a construction site should be aware of the risks associated with the job and how to prevent them with their knowledge of construction site safety.
It is the construction managers job to make sure that every worker is aware of the dangers that come with working on a construction site and they must protect workers from these dangers. Any manager that fails to tell their crew and staff about how to avoid getting hurt and how to ensure safety is failing as a manager. Ensuring the safety of the construction workers and everyone on the site should be the number one priority of any construction manager. If the workers have no concept of construction site safety, they shouldn’t be allowed on the construction site.
Though most of a construction worker’s skills can be gained on the job, safety is one skill set that is best learned before works enter the construction site. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) and other organizations publish some resources to help businesses train their new laborers on standard safety and security practices, including pamphlets, worksheets, training videos, and even on-site training opportunities. Experienced workers should be expected to refresh their knowledge of standard safety by attending regular training sessions throughout the year. These training sessions can go over simple things such as fall protection and proper use of ladders, but the goal is to make sure everyone is adequately trained. Leaving these training sessions, workers should know what safety measure to do in the case of an incident.
Although workers are expected to attend regular safety training sessions about construction safety throughout the year, being able to practice safety training skills on-site would help construction workers enforce the safety rules. Practicing construction site safety training skills on-site will force workers to practice these skills in an environment where safety is essential and will make sure they are trained. Without the proper training, construction workers can be easily injured or even killed. In such an environment where injuries and fatalities are highly likely, training is necessary and will prevent things like workplace injuries that will hurt you ethically and economically.
Accidents are more likely to occur when workers are unsure what to expect. Direct discussion of the day’s goals and activities will cut down on surprises that could cause bodily harm. Construction firms would be wise to equip workers with devices, like smartphones, walkie-talkies, or headsets, which allow fast and efficient communication among team members. Without proper communication between everyone on the construction site, workers won’t know what to expect. Clear and concise communication with everyone not only makes the project go by faster but also helps keep each person informed. Informing the staff and making sure everyone is doing their job is a proper way to communicate and make sure they understand construction site safety.
To enforce construction site safety, you have to make sure you have proper documentation of everything that is going to be done on-site. There are some legal hoops most construction companies must jump through to begin building, and it is essential that all proper registrations and licenses are earned before work begins. Supervisors and contractors who will be charged with particularly difficult tasks, like blasting, certainly should provide evidence of their certification well in advance of their employment on the job site. Not only does this prevent accidents due to improper training, but it protects the construction firm from legal action and public scrutiny. Any safety hazards that make their way to the media will look bad for construction firms.
No construction worker wants to work for a construction firm that doesn’t put its worker’s safety first. Any news of workers getting hurt on the job due to lack of safety practices will have new prospects running away from your construction firm. Implementing measures to practice construction site safety methods will prevent such things from happening. Also, documenting all work in the field using cloud and mobile technology is making it easier than ever before to mitigate future lawsuits.
5. Proper Equipment
To create a culture centered around construction site safety, you need to give workers the proper equipment and adequate work area for the job at hand. Without the proper equipment, you can’t have construction site safety because there will always be an opportunity to get injured using the wrong equipment. Construction workers equipped with improper gear are bound to make fatal errors. Not only should each piece of equipment on the job site be ideally suited to the task at hand, but construction firms have to make sure that all machinery and material are well maintained.
Construction companies must also consider equipment that doesn’t directly contribute to the construction project. Workers should have plenty of water available on-site as well as a shady place to prevent dehydration and exposure-related illnesses. Longer construction projects may even benefit from fabric structures to store equipment and cover incomplete sites. Such simple things can be easily overlooked, and if they are, they increase the chance of on-site injury. Proper construction equipment ensures that there is at least some level of construction site safety within the construction firm.
Ideally, construction workers would fully understand the ramifications of inadequate safety precautions and thus act in a manner to ensure site-wide well-being — but this is not a perfect world. Every site must have a strong supervisor who is willing and capable of enforcing safety standards with no exceptions. This foreman must keep tabs on all employees throughout the day and correct those who fail to commit to proper construction site safety procedures.
The accident rate would be even higher than it is today if it wasn’t for construction firms willing to devote extra resources to keep their employees safe. These additional resources not only lower the rates of workplace accidents and injuries but also helps develop new ideas for keeping construction workers safe. The development of new practices that will enhance security should always be encouraged, and companies should avoid speaking against legislation aimed at improving safety protocols. Perhaps with enough innovation, all construction sites can maximize their construction site safety practices and can be 100 percent accident-free.
The worst thing any construction firm can do for its reputation is attempting a cover-up. Hiding accidents from the press and the public not only lowers the opinion of a single endeavor — it paints the building industry as a whole in a negative light. Ultimately, people understand that accidents happen, and as long as contractors are doing their best to foster a safe environment for their workers, any accidents that do occur will only contribute to the growing need to augment modern safety techniques. Transparency, along with the other seven practices on this list, will help construction as a whole become a safer industry in which to work. A safer construction industry is an industry of fewer injuries, fewer workplace accidents, and fewer deaths. A construction industry that fully utilizes its construction site safety practices is the kind of industry we should be working towards.
The ultimate goal for the construction industry is to reduce workplace accidents, injuries, and deaths to zero. The fewer accidents there are, the more popular the construction industry will be. The only hope of reducing the number of accidents is to keep workers aware of safety issues, train them on these issues, communicate and discuss ways to improve these safety programs and concerns, and documenting these issues. In addition to these steps, workers must have the right equipment, must have proper supervision, must be innovative in finding ways to solve this problem, and must be transparent if such a problem does occur. There is no set way to reduce the number of accidents to zero, but following these eight construction site safety practices will help pave the road to get there.
Arya Hojati is a marketing intern at eSUB Construction Software. He is currently a student at San Diego State University pursuing a bachelor’s in Marketing.