Safety First is Safety Always on Construction Sites
Professional contractors engage in many activities that may expose them to serious risks, such as falls, accidents resulting from not having the proper safety education, injury from improper use of heavy equipment, physical exhaustion, and exposure to the outside elements. Learn 5 ways you can help keep your workers safe with information, tools and resources that can help identify, reduce, and eliminate these industry-related hazards and risks.
1. Inspect, Identify, and Implement (Fall Protection)
Falls are one of the most common causes of workplace fatalities. In 2016, more than half of Michigan’s workplace fatalities were due to falls [22 out of 43; MIOSHA data]. Employers should inspect the jobsite for specific fall hazards and identify them for crew members prior to the start of work. In the construction industry, OSHA requires that fall protection be provided at elevations of 6’ or greater [OSHA]. Employers are required to provide fall protection equipment free of charge to workers and train them in its use. OSHA-approved fall protection systems include guardrails, safety nets, and personal fall arrest systems. Implement the fall protection system that makes the most sense for your jobsite’s working conditions.
2. The Importance of Participation (Training)
Providing proper and ongoing training to workers can go a long way in reducing the number of safety injuries occurred at the job site. It’s important to conduct safety training on an ongoing basis, to cover changes to OSHA standards and also to review safety procedures to assist workers in retaining their safety education. Some great ways to stay up-to-date with training include hosting or attending monthly safety meetings, subscribing to safety blogs, and practicing role-play with what to do in an emergency.
3. One Size Does Not Fit All (Equipment)
Safety precautions should be taken for both the operators and bystanders who are in proximity of the job site. Handling heavy and complex equipment requires an educated, certified and skilled worker. Employers and workers should note that individuals should never operate any machinery or equipment that they have not been properly and adequately trained on. The same goes for equipment that you wear, such as hard hats and other personal protective equipment (PPE). These protect workers from a number of hazards such as falling and flying objects, electrical shock and other impacts. Lastly, when using any type of equipment, large or small, verify that there is no damage, everything is in good working order, and wearable items such as hard hats and PPE are fitted appropriately to protect everyone’s safety.
4. Communicate your commitment to their safety (General Health)
Establishing a safety and health program at your job site is one of the most effective ways of protecting your most valuable asset: your workers. Losing workers to injury or illness, even for a short time, can cause significant disruption and cost—to your company as well as the workers and their families. It can also affect turnover and damage workplace morale, productivity, and reputation. Having a safety plan written and on file is not enough – you should post it at your jobsite, review it with all crew on the jobsite before the start of work, and confirm that they understand.
5. The Lay of the Land (Elements)
Mother Nature can create hazardous conditions in construction – be sure to cover any jobsite or environmental hazards with your crew before they start work.
Job Site Layout: Your crew should be aware of hazardous conditions when working on, or even walking through, the job site.
- Uneven surfaces, wet grass, and mud can make for dangerous travel, whether walking or driving. Take precautions when maneuvering over rough terrain.
- Holes in the ground can cause trips or falls. Make sure they are identified and marked, or filled in quickly.
- Hazards can also be found overhead. Remember to keep track of where any trees or power lines might be when working operating or moving equipment.
Severe Weather: While most contractors take a common-sense approach to inclement weather when working on the jobsite, they don’t pay as much attention to the risks of sunburn and heat illnesses. Too much sun exposure can lead to sunburn and other skin problems. Sunburns can be harmful and, in certain cases, can result in a recordable injury. It’s also very important to stay hydrated when working in extreme heat – if the body can’t replenish fluids and salts lost from sweating, the individual can begin to have trouble concentrating and become irritable and/or sick. [Read OSHA’s recommendations on identifying and avoiding occupational heat exposure]
Write up a safety plan and training program, and implement it with your workers. Remember that a safety plan is a living document, and you can add to it and make changes as you develop your program. By focusing on achieving goals, monitoring performance, and evaluating outcomes, you can help your company progress over time along the path to higher levels of safety and health productivity.
Wimsatt Building Materials has fall protection equipment in stock, including personal fall arrest kits from Werner Company and guardrail systems from Guardian Fall Protection and Acro.
About Dave Karras
Dave Karras is the Marketing Manager at Wimsatt Building Materials.
October 10, 2017
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