Construction can be perilous work. Anything and everything could go wrong, putting your employees in harm’s way. That is why health and safety regulations are so important in the construction industry. They lower the risk of your employees being in serious or life-threatening accidents. However, because there are so many hazards associated with construction work, it is difficult to keep track of them all. To help our readers with this dilemma, here is the beginner’s guide to health and safety on construction sites. Read on to find out more information and protect your workers from harm.
1.) Risk Assessment
First things first, you need to conduct a risk assessment of your construction site before deploying any employees. By identifying all the different hazards and learning more about them, you can then create appropriate measures to lower the chances of them happening. For instance, a risk assessment could highlight that there is a risk of your employees falling from scaffolding. To counteract this risk, you should supply your members of staff with harnesses and train them so they know how to work from heights safely. However, employers cannot conduct a risk assessment by themselves. They will also need to hire a certified assessor who specialises in construction work to audit the site, then produce an official risk assessment document. Regardless, it is worth knowing what the most common hazards of working in construction are. So, here are the main examples:
Things are constantly being moved around on construction sites. Vehicles are shifting heavy objects, buildings are being assembled, and employees are moving all around the place. With so much activity going on, accidents are more likely to occur. For example, employees might trip over, equipment could spin out of control, and so on.
- Harmful Materials
Some materials that are used in the construction industry can be dangerous to humans, particularly when touched or inhaled. These materials include things like chemicals, paints, vapours, gases, asbestos particles, and construction dust. If improper health and safety regulations are in place, then this could cause your employees to develop conditions.
- Working at Height & Falling Items
As we mentioned before, construction work is usually completed on scaffolding, which could put your employees at risk of falling. Furthermore, they could drop equipment or materials from this height, putting the workers below at risk of being hit on the head.
You can hear construction sites from miles away – imagine what all this noise could be doing to your employees’ ears? As such, this is something that construction business owners need to be aware of.
More people die from electric shocks in construction than any other industry. This is because employees are handling electrical appliances, working near power lines and coming into contact with overhead cables.
- Musculoskeletal Conditions
Musculoskeletal conditions result from prolonged contact with vibrating power tools, like drills and jackhammers. If your employees are not suitably protected, these conditions could develop into lifelong disabilities.
2.) Maintaining Equipment
Now you have conducted the risk assessment of your construction site, you have probably identified which areas are cause for concern. Faulty equipment is probably an issue that has reoccurred throughout the assessment. For instance, employees are likely to fall because of rickety scaffolding or get an electric shock from a faulty appliance. As such, it is incredibly important to maintain the equipment on your construction site. But how exactly does one do this? Well, for starters, you will want to hire licenced health and safety inspectors for each aspect of your risk assessment. For example, you can hire contractors for fall protection equipment inspection. These assessors will run through the OSHA checklist (Occupational Safety and Health Administration) to ensure that each piece of fall protection equipment is up to standard. By regularly maintaining your equipment, you and your employees can feel secure in the fact they are sufficiently protected.
3.) Personal Protective Equipment
One of the most important aspects of health and safety in construction work is personal protective equipment. Employers need to supply their workers with the appropriate PPE to ensure they are sufficiently protected from harm. But what PPE should you be providing? Well, this very much depends on the nature of the construction work. Once again, employers need to refer back to their risk assessment. Regardless, here are some common items of personal protective equipment that should be used in construction:
Hardhats are important in construction work because they protect your employees from heavy blows to the head. Head injuries are commonly caused by tripping over, falling from a height, or dropped items.
- Safety Goggles
Safety goggles are essential because they prevent things from getting into your worker’s eyes and causing irritation, long-term damage or (in some of the worst cases) blindness. For example, sawdust from chopping wood can scratch the cornea.
- Hand & Foot Protection
Don’t forget about protecting your employees’ hands and feet! They should have hardwearing material to cover these body parts, which are vulnerable to being scratched or having items dropped on them.
- High-Vis Jackets
As construction sites are so dangerous, your workers need to know where everyone is at all times. High-vis jackets can help with this. Neon colours are bright, so even in the darkness, your workers will be visible.
4.) Health & Safety Training
Finally, employers need to provide their workers with sufficient training on health and safety protocols. If people know what they need to be cautious of, they are much less likely to be injured. We also recommend testing their knowledge of health and safety. Training is one thing; retaining the information and putting it into practice is a completely different matter. That is why we also recommend retraining your staff on a regular basis. Though health and safety lessons are tiresome, it is irresponsible to skip them.
We hope you have found this guide for health and safety on construction sites useful. This article was merely a short summary – keep educating yourself on the matter and protect your employees as best you can.