According to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), one out of every five workplace deaths is a construction worker. Construction, however, can be a safe occupation. Workers must be aware of the hazards, and use an effective safety and health program.
Here are some more specific ways construction employers and employees can prevent an accident at a construction site.
1. Provide safety training for all employees. Employers should educate employees on all workplace safety standards and the hazards that they may face while on the job. Workers need to review the health and safety policies for each job they are called to do. The written safety policy should include procedure and the name and location of a trained first aid responder. Employees should not operate any equipment they are not qualified or trained to use.
2. Hold frequent crew safety meetings. At some workplaces these meetings should be held daily, for example, if high-risk work is being done. Employees should be reminded to stay focused and relevant issues should be addressed. Real-life factual and job specific safety information tends to be more motivating for workers.
3. Utilize protective clothing and gear. Workers should always wear the recommended safety equipment for their jobs. This may be a hard hat, high-visibility clothing, goggles, gloves, steel-toed shoes, or a protective suit. In the summer, outdoor workers need wide brim hard hats, nape protectors, and long sleeve-lightweight shirts to protect them from the sun’s rays.
4. Keep the workspace clean. Keeping work areas clean and free of debris will lessen the chances of construction worker injuries and help prevent worksite accidents such as slips, trips, and falls. Employees should store tools and materials when finished with a job. Walkways should be kept clear of debris to prevent accidents that include slips and falls.
5. Maintain the equipment and tools. Before using a piece of equipment or machinery, workers must ensure it is in proper working order. Tools and machinery should be kept on a regular inspection schedule. Workers have been known to get trapped in or under heavy equipment that was not working properly. Broken parts and malfunctioning gear can also cause serious injuries and deaths.
6. Prevent falls. Falls are the leading cause of fatalities in the construction industry. It is important that workers are protected from falls on the job. The installation of fall protection systems can protect construction workers. These systems should consist of such items as guardrails, toe boards, screens, canopy structures or nets. Scaffolding can prevent falls, but must be installed properly to make sure it is constructed well enough to hold the intended weight load. After it is put up, scaffolding must be inspected regularly.
7. Recognize the hazards and make a plan. Before any project starts, the site should be inspected for any unusual hazards. A risk assessment can protect workers’ health and safety. After completing the risk assessment, a list of preventive measures should be made and implemented. It is important to ensure that all workers receive appropriate information, education, and training.
8. Be careful with vehicles. Many fatal accidents on work sites involve vehicles. Defensive driving, parking and backing should be practiced.
9. Use equipment in the manner prescribed. If construction tools or equipment is used in ways for which it is not designed, the manufacturer’s built in safety features can no longer be relied on. Misusing equipment may also damage the equipment and cause employee injuries. The equipment itself should meet OSHA standards.
10. Follow OSHA guidelines and report any dangerous working conditions. Employers and employees who cut corners on the procedures and rules of OSHA increase the risks for construction site injuries. Any incidents or violations of OSHA regulations should be recorded and reported for the safety of all involved.