Construction is by far the most dangerous industry to work in when it comes to the likelihood of physical injury or death on the job. In fact, three of the ten most dangerous occupations are construction jobs, with roofing topping the list at 34.7 fatal work injuries per 100,000 workers each year. With increased technology in the workplace, workers are exposed to increasingly dangerous work environments every year.
Today’s blog offers some basic safety advice for construction workers of all kinds, whether roofers, laborers, steel workers, or any of the hundreds of other physical jobs the industry provides. We’ll talk about the importance of worker safety, offer a few helpful tips for workers and discuss how to make workers safer in your own construction business.
Why is Worker Safety Important?
First and foremost, anybody that arrives to work every day to earn a living deserves to go home to their family. This belief is the foundation for any attempt to improve worker safety. On-the-job accidents are difficult for everybody. The injured worker may have a reduced quality of life, their work, and home lives may be affected, and their loved ones may be left without a father, brother, uncle or son. On the business side, accidents can result in lost time on projects, distractions for other workers, extra expenses on human and legal resources, payouts for worker’s compensation or disability insurance and other financial penalties. When workers are kept safe, everybody wins.
Safety Tips for Construction Workers
Any construction role faces numerous hazards while on the job. Construction companies provide safety equipment and training that covers most situations, but ultimately, workers are responsible for ensuring that they are properly equipped and trained for any specific task. Here are three quick rules of thumb to follow that can help ensure your safety as a construction worker.
1. Ask yourself, “What could happen?”
If you’re about to do a new task for the first time, taking a moment to consider the worst-case scenario can help to identify what safety measures you can take to mitigate personal risk in the situation. For example, when going up a ladder, you might realize that the ladder may fall over and that you can prevent this by having someone else hold it while you climb. Thinking like this keeps you safe much more reliably than having your employer impose safety regulations on you.
2. Do the Basics
The simplest things that form the basis of your health and safety training as a worker are the things most likely to protect you from injury. They are also the aspects of safety most frequently overlooked in the workplace. Things like wearing a hard hat, using protective glasses and wearing steel-toed boots are commonplace on construction sites because they work when it comes to reducing the frequency of accidents.
3. Ask for Help
This is both the simplest piece of advice and the hardest to follow. If you’re not sure whether something is safe to do, ask your supervisor or foreman for advice or assistance. Most construction firms have made worker safety a major focus, and your supervisor will be able to address any concerns you have about your safety in the workplace.
Making it a Focus – How to Improve Worker Safety in Your Business
Creating a safe work environment means providing the tools necessary to protect workers from hazards, providing the training necessary for workers to use those tools correctly, and creating a work culture that encourages workers to apply that training throughout their work lives diligently.
Workers need to have proper safety equipment available to them at all times, and they should believe that there will be no penalty for not completing a task when the proper safety equipment is not available. Construction managers should work to create an environment where workers understand that tasks should be done safely or not at all. Then, resource managers can work to allocate safety equipment where it is needed for actual work.
Finally, a strong safety culture means that workers take responsibility for the safety of other workers. Would your employees discourage each other from engaging in unsafe practices in the workplace? Would your employees approach their supervisor if they felt they lacked adequate safety equipment to complete a task? Would they refuse unsafe work?
Worker safety is an ongoing struggle in the construction industry, and the issues surrounding it go beyond just the availability of safety equipment and training. Establishing a strong “safety culture” in the workplace and ensuring that workers are comfortable asking for help and refusing unsafe work are two important objectives that will help to reduce the incidence of accidents and injuries in your workplace.