The construction industry has worked hard in recent times to make sites as safe as possible. And while every accident cannot be avoided, there are common safety problems that are recognised, and solutions put in place. Whether you are running the project or employing a company to do it for you, it is worth knowing these most common issues.
One of the top causes of deaths on a construction site is due to falls and that’s why fall protection tops most HSE lists. For workers, it is important to be aware of the potential fall hazards on a site and to use personal fall arrest systems. These should be checked before use to ensure they work and are free from damage.
Employers need to ensure that these systems are provided and that there are no unprotected edges or sides that are six feet above a lower level. This includes using guardrails, safety net systems and those fall arrest systems mentioned above.
Over two-thirds of all construction work take place on scaffolding and that’s why it is a cause of safety problems ranging from falls to falling objects and even electrocution. Workers need to wear hard hats and non-skid boots as well as using tool lanyards to prevent dropped tools. Scaffolding should never be used in ice, when wet or muddy. Also, the maximum load should never be exceeded.
Employers need to ensure that scaffolding is erected and disassembled by a competent person, a professional scaffolder in most cases. It should include guardrails, midrails and toeboards.
Stairways and ladders
Improper use of ladders is another top reason that people experience falls and even deaths on a construction site. This includes incorrect ladder choice, failure to secure the ladders and trying to carry tools when climbing. Workers need to make three points of contact when ascending or descending a ladder, usually both feet and one hand. Ladders need to be secured at both top and bottom and tools carried with a belt or rope that is pulled up after climbing stops.
Employers need to ensure ladders are in good condition and that workers are trained on good ladder use. All ladders need to be to OSHA standards and if there are electrical equipment involved, then nonconductive side railings are required.
OSHA has updated their recommendations around the covering of eye and face protection from April 2016, so all sites should be aware of these new standards. The standards cover a variety of jobs including drilling, sanding, woodworking, grinding, masonry work and welding. Workers must wear eye and face protection that fits the face snuggly and is clean and in good repair.
Employers need to provide this equipment free of charge to workers and ensure they need the latest standards. If any workers were glasses or contact lenses, then there must be protection equipment available that can work with these and ensure they are able to see properly while being protected to the required standard at the same time.