Out of the 4,674 worker fatalities in the private sector in 2017, 20.7% of them were in construction, or about 1 in 5 worker deaths.
Staying on Top of Construction Site Safety Tips
Construction workers face hazards that no other type of worker faces on such a regular basis. They have to contend with heavy machinery, electricity, fall hazards, fire hazards, and potential chemical exposure, just to name a few.
And as an employer, you are responsible for ensuring that your workers go home safe and sound every day. Here are a few tips to help you stay on top of your job site.
Getting On and Off Equipment
First of all, you should ensure that your employees are using equipment safely. For example, getting on or off of a piece of equipment. Sounds pretty basic, doesn’t it? And yet, this simple action is where many operators get hurt.
Before a worker sets foot on a machine, they should check their helmet, work boots, and gloves. Their boots should be clean of mud and they should use a high grip to ensure better traction.
Where there are handholds, use a three-point stance. Never rely on your fingers and toes to grip–engage the entire hand and foot.
If a machine doesn’t have handholds, use a stepladder. Do not carry items while climbing, even if the climb is relatively simple. And if a machine needs additional handholds installed? Take the time to install them before the job begins. Regular equipment maintenance checks should spot this problem before it becomes a hazard.
Load Machines Carefully
Then, there’s the issue of the machine load. Think of it this way: construction equipment is heavy. It’s designed to carry heavy loads. So if the machine gets overloaded and tips over, you’re going to have one ugly mess on your hands.
Always ensure that the ground is stable enough to hold a machine. If you’re using a ramp, make sure the machine is centered and stable. Use a spotter to help with this process, but keep people away from the sides of the machine during loading and unloading.
Be Aware of Fall Hazards
Construction has an infamous “Fatal Four“, the top four causes of construction fatalities:
- Struck by an object
- Caught between an object or piece of equipment
As such, your job site should take extra precautions to ensure that your workers stay safe from these hazards.
Take the scaffold, for example. It’s a popular place for construction workers to be, and a common site of falls.
You know what areas at the job site are most at risk of falls. Before your employees begin work in the area, install safety systems around these areas to keep workers from falling, or at least mitigate the effects of a fall. These systems include things like:
- Safety nets
- Personal fall arrest systems
- Safety cords
And on that note, your workers should always be wearing the appropriate safety and personal protective equipment (PPE), especially if they plan on working at great heights.
Of course, some fall accidents don’t occur from a great height. Some falls don’t even fall a full floor. Some falls are a simple slip and trip, and these accidents can be just as debilitating if a worker happens to be unlucky.
You can’t control luck, but you can control common sense. Always make sure that work areas are clean and free of debris. Floors should be dry and well-lit, and it's ideal to consider flooring samples to ensure certain floors are slip resistant, for example. Workers should always be wearing helmets, even during the most mundane tasks.