Construction is one of the world’s oldest and most lucrative industries. As long as society keeps evolving, there will always be a need for newer, better, more efficient buildings.
With that said, the ongoing demand can make it easy to cut corners and just “get it done.” Not only will this reduce the quality of work, but it will severely jeopardize the safety of the workers, materials, and investment. To help avoid this scenario and guarantee that everything is on the up-and-up, keep reading for 5 key factors in ensuring safety in industrial construction sites.
Make Sure the Site Is Properly Prepared
Preparation is the key to success in guaranteeing job site safety. There is simply no way to jump in head first and avoid major risk.
Some key preparation steps to take at the job site include:
- Clear the area of any debris, timber, or anything else that may create a fire or safety hazard
- Establish optimal drainage to prevent flood damage
- Have a strong infrastructure of access roads to keep traffic moving efficiently and along safe paths
- Secure the boundaries with fences and credentialed access to keep pedestrians out of the area
- Hang adequate signage throughout the site so that workers know the quickest escape routes and any hazardous areas
These are just a few of the ideas that are critical to job site preparation. When going through the preparation process, it is beneficial to work with a professional site inspector to help identify potential issues that escape the untrained eye.
Conduct a Thorough Risk Assessment
A risk assessment is critical prior to starting any type of industrial construction project.
What is a risk assessment?
Basically, it involves looking at anything and everything that could possibly go wrong and having a contingency plan in place in case it does. It prevents stakeholders from being caught unprepared by unexpected events and helps protect the safety of the workers, project, and budget. Some points to consider when performing a risk assessment for an industrial construction site include:
- Availability of labor
- Worker health and wellness
- Micro and macro weather trends
- Proposed speed of the project
It is also important to remember that risk assessment may need to be even more comprehensive when restoring or rehabilitating old buildings. Many projects are updating existing structures with new windows or the best insulation for exterior walls to get inefficient buildings up to modern standards. However, don’t just assume that other components of the building are in good enough condition to withstand adjacent renovation. Therefore, be meticulous with the budgeting for these types of projects, as uncovering underlying issues once work begins is an expensive proposition.
Establish a Culture of Safety on the Job Site
It is easy to cut corners in the name of saving time and money.
Maybe it's a failure to put on the necessary PPE because a task is a “quick fix.”
Or perhaps it’s leaving materials laying out overnight because work commences early the next morning.
It could also be something like putting down roofing tile before all b decking is implemented. What is n decking? It is a type of structural roof support that helps transfer vertical loads horizontally to the building’s frame, allowing the roof to accommodate more weight and increased foot traffic.
While 99% of projects may take these kinds of shortcuts and end up being fine, it is that unexpected disaster that can create irreparable injury (or worse) and litigation that puts firms out of business.
Therefore, take steps to establish a culture of safety at every project site. Invest in education and ongoing training to ensure that all agents understand the expectation. As a major stakeholder, lead by example and demonstrate a willingness to prioritize safety in all of the seemingly minor details.
Prioritize Air Quality
The construction industry has always been a little ahead of the rest of the economy in terms of air quality awareness, providing workers with masks, ventilators, and other types of PPE to ensure that they are not inhaling toxic chemicals.
However, in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, understand that air quality is under the microscope like never before.
Make sure that air scrubs are placed throughout the construction site to reduce the amount of toxicity in the work environment. Provide clear paths to exterior spaces to allow workers easy access to a dose of fresh air. If this is not possible, and the construction is taking place underground or in some other type of poorly ventilated area, install backdraft dampers to the ductwork to ensure the one-way flow of conditioned air.
Select the Highest Quality Materials
It may not seem like building materials themselves can promote safety, but there are actually a number of ways in which they can do so. A few ways include:
- Ease of installation allows for a more controlled process that reduces wear and tear on workers’ bodies
- Reduced risk of natural disaster, such as through fire resistant roofing or impact resistant siding
- Less likelihood of malfunction or defect that could cause an acute injury to workers
- Some innovative materials are designed specifically for reduced injury risk, such as non-slip flooring products and hog-wire deck railing
It is also important to keep budget risk in mind when choosing materials. Going with bargain-basement options may reduce the upfront cost, but it increases the likelihood of costly rework scenarios, so keep a big-picture view in mind.
Get Started Today On Making the Construction Site Safer
Ensuring optimal safety at the industrial construction site is critical for protecting workers and resources.