Undoubtedly, working in construction is one of the most dangerous jobs. From the risk of a sudden slip or fall, getting struck by a large object, or even getting electrocuted—this work is full of occupational hazards.
Since injuries and illnesses at construction sites are often widespread, they pose a risk to workers and their families. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, 10.2 of every 100,000 construction worker experiences a fatal injury annually. Even more alarmingly, 1 in every 5 deaths among the U.S. workforce is of someone in the construction industry. States like Tennessee are one of the most popular places for construction jobs, but even these aren’t free from hazards. A BLS report showed that in 2021, there were 132 fatal injuries in Tennessee alone.
These statistics are distressing, even more so because the proper implementation of safety measures can easily prevent these injuries and deaths from ever occurring. And whether these hazards come in evident forms, such as mechanical failure, or unpredictable, like inhaling a toxic substance, you must always practice safety.
And so, here we outline the seven essential safety tips that every construction site must follow, without which projects must not be allowed to continue.
1. Hire professionals
A common mistake most people make is hiring amateur contractors to complete a project. This oversight is a primary reason why injuries and accidents become frequent occurrences on the construction site. Therefore, the best way to avoid this problem is by hiring professionals trained and well-versed in the safety protocols that come with the occupation.
So, for instance, if you’re working on a project in Tennessee, ask around, cross-check references, and then hire only a trusted contractor in Tennessee. This way, you can do the job with maximum efficiency and minimum damage.
2. Proper signage and labeling
Proactive measures like placing the proper signage and labeling can go a long way in mitigating some obvious risks at construction sites. These help workers, contractors, and supervisors identify potential hazards around them with a better understanding of ways to handle them safely. All labels must list the contents of a container and all the relevant safety measures workers must take before using it. It’s equally essential to write all signs and labels in clear and concise language and place them throughout the dangerous areas to alert all those on site.
Some OSHA (Occupational Safety and Health Administration) and ISO (International Organization for Standardization) compliant labels or signs you can place at construction sites include:
- Danger – Do Not Enter
- Fire Extinguisher
- Caution – Trip Hazard
- Fall Hazard Sign
- Emergency Exit
- No Smoking Sign
- Caution – Hearing protection is required
3. Promote a safety culture
Safety culture refers to an organization’s safety environment, attitudes, values, and beliefs. If every individual, from a project manager to a hired electrician, takes safety responsibility seriously, there won’t be any accidents to worry about. To accomplish this, supervisors must plan regular training sessions and encourage workers to practice daily protocols designed to protect the employees and the workplace. They must conduct routine inspections and exercise open communication that allows workers to report any mishaps. This training helps identify vulnerable areas or equipment that is more hazardous than expected, giving plenty of opportunity to mitigate the risk before it can cause harm.
4. Avoid crowded workspaces
Another safety tip for construction sites often overlooked is avoiding crowded workspaces. Whether it’s an area jam-packed with tools, equipment, or even people—it poses a real hazardous risk for everyone. The potential hazards are endless, from bumping into one another, tangling of wires, or the loud noises and exhausts of the tools. Congested or busy workspaces restrict the visibility and mobility of the workers, creating a leeway for more accidents. Therefore, it’s crucial to properly plan and execute each activity carefully in its designated space. Even if the construction site isn’t large, it may help to schedule each job at a different time to ensure workers or equipment aren’t overcrowded.
5. Follow environmental guidelines
When following safety tips on a construction site, it’s not just the workers or employees you must worry about. Instead, the environment and how it gets impacted by the construction project also play a crucial role. For this reason, it’s vital to design, implement and follow specific guidelines that ensure all work procedures and protocols are eco-friendly and cause minimal environmental risk. Generally, these guidelines include measures that prevent using hazardous substances, encourage proper disposal of waste materials, and protect natural habitats. These practices prevent workers from falling ill to occupational hazards and ensure the ecosystem remains viable and in the natural order.
Project managers must also consider how environmental conditions like rain, snow, humidity, or heat may affect potential hazards at the construction site. Identifying problems early on can allow workers to mitigate them well beforehand.
6. Have an emergency plan
Regardless of how safe and secure you make your construction sites, some accidents are bound to happen. While proper safety protocols can significantly reduce the severity of these injuries, having an emergency plan can keep them from becoming fatal. Therefore, before starting any project, supervisors and managers must create a well-structured emergency plan. It must clearly outline evacuation routes, the responsibilities of each worker in such an event, and an emergency communication system. For its proper implementation, it’s helpful to conduct drills and regular training to ensure all employees know what to do in such a situation.
Although it’s impossible to predict what kind of emergency may occur, it may help design a plan for common accidents like fire, explosions, or natural disasters.
7. Lifting precautions and ladder safety
Two vital components of safety protocols at a construction site include lifting precautions and ladder safety. Lifting precautions include all the relevant techniques, angles, and postures a worker must practice to avoid any musculoskeletal injury from occurring. Tips like keeping their backs straight and lifting with the legs rather than the back are crucial in helping prevent sprains or any severe muscle strain. On the other hand, ladder safety and ways to properly set it up are vital precautions to avoid injuries and falls at a construction site. Workers must always check the ladder for damages before using it, ensure it’s properly secured, and always climb with their face toward the ladder. Placing these instructions around the area and training employees on these practices can significantly reduce injuries at construction sites.
Many construction site injuries and accidents are preventable. However, due to the poor implementation of safety protocols and untrained workers, occupational harm is much more common than it should be. However, by following a few essential safety tips, like the ones above, you can quickly reduce the number of construction site accidents to a minimum.
Leave a Reply