The construction industry plays a huge role in the development of any country. Building infrastructures like highways, railways, and organizational facilities are necessary to generate employment and promote profitable activities in different economic sectors.
Additionally, with the steadily growing demand for housing projects and the rise of various trends in real estate, the construction sector remains bustling with opportunities.
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However, as activities increase, so does the personnel’s exposure to health and safety hazards. Sadly, no matter how many precautionary measures construction site managers and workers take, they cannot completely eliminate risks.
The Importance of Safety Precautions
Unfortunate accidents can lead to different kinds of work-related injuries and, in worst cases, moralities. Dangerous substances alone approximately cause as many as 651,279 deaths globally per year. Moreover, the construction industry has an irregularly high number of recorded accidents worldwide.
Identifying the fundamental causes of construction accidents is the first step to preventing potentially fatal mishaps. Furthermore, implementing safety measures in construction sites is crucial to promoting the well-being of workers.
However, after growing accustomed to a dangerous environment, construction workers tend to forego some precautionary measures, especially those that take a lot of time and effort.
Below, we’ll discuss some of the most neglected occupational safety practices that construction professionals should never skip.
#1 Using Proper Personal Protective Equipment
Personal protective equipment (PPE) such as safety glasses, gloves, and hard helmets help safeguard workers in hazardous settings. However, it has become increasingly common for many to misuse their PPE or remove certain items.
Workers may choose to skip wearing their PPE because they do not believe it is necessary. Some may also think that they can move more freely and, thus, perform better without specific parts of their PPE.
By educating employees on the necessity of PPE, companies can prevent them from perceiving its use as optional. Furthermore, the management should rigorously monitor and enforce PPE usage, giving warnings to anyone who doesn’t comply with the rules.
Workers could also avoid wearing their protective equipment if it is ill-fitting or uncomfortable. As such, it is the employer’s job to ensure that the PPE fits each worker snugly so as not to leave them dangerously exposed or make them feel uneasy because the PPE interferes with their movements. Moreover, all PPE should have an officially accepted design and should be appropriate for the type of work to be done.
Employers are also mandated to develop a program to highlight the safety concerns that require the use of PPE, as well as educate workers on its selection, maintenance, and proper use. They should also consistently monitor the program’s effectiveness.
#2 Setting Up Adequate Fall Protection
Building construction frequently entails working from a height. Needless to say, falling from great heights can cause serious workplace injuries and even mortalities.
Therefore, it’s critical to ensure that all scaffolding and ladders on the site are securely fastened. Guardrail systems and safety netting must also be used accordingly. Employers must furnish workers with personal fall arrest systems as well. Furthermore, it’s a must to do inspections to check for any unprotected edges.
Scaffolding workers must be adequately trained and reminded to be constantly aware of their surroundings, as falling debris, electrocution from power lines, and unstable platforms can all cause major accidents. Guardrails on supported and suspended scaffolds must be correctly installed to prevent employees from falling from an open side. In addition, workers must be secured in well-fitting fall protection equipment such as body harnesses, belts, and lanyards.
#3 Attending (Non-Mandatory) Safety Training
Many workers tune out when they hear the word “non-mandatory.” However, just because people are not obligated to attend a training session does not mean that it is unimportant.
Employers should encourage their personnel to attend non-mandatory training courses by outlining what they will learn and explaining why they are vital. Providing an incentive to those who will attend and scheduling the session at a time that is convenient for the majority can help make the event more appealing. It’s also helpful to set the sessions during times when the workers have not performed heavy tasks yet so they won’t be too tired to attend.
Eventually, companies may need to make safety training mandatory. If attendance continues to be low and accident rates don’t decrease, requiring attendance can ensure that workers will receive much-needed education.
#4 Eliminating Possible Distractions
Being a little distracted isn’t a huge safety threat in many occupations. Workers in high-risk sectors, on the other hand, cannot afford to be distracted. Temporarily losing focus can lead to an error that could result in them or a colleague being fatally wounded.
There are numerous reasons why people lose attention at work. Everything from being hungry to checking their phones or engaging in idle conversations can cause them to become distracted.
It’s the employers’ job to remove as many distractions as possible from the workplace. For example, prohibit the use of smartphones except in approved break spaces. It’s also important to schedule breaks strategically, as working for too long can cause employees to feel restless.
Moreover, construction site managers should reiterate to the staff the value of staying focused. Sharing safety statistics and examples of serious injuries sustained from being distracted could help.
#5 Actively Watching Equipment
Leaving hazardous equipment unguarded could result in unfortunate consequences. For instance, if a machine suddenly moves or rolls, a worker’s body could get stuck, squeezed, or crushed.
To mitigate this danger, no construction equipment must be left unattended during work hours. Also, heavy machinery must only be used by authorized operators. Plus, companies need to ensure that their workers are all aware of any potential crush points or other moving pieces that could lead to a tricky situation.
When working with heavy-duty equipment, employees should use a proper lock-out or tag-out procedures to avoid unexpected starting. Employers should pay attention to their staff’s appearance as well, as loose clothing, jewelry, and long hair could all get caught and entangled in a moving machine.
#6 Following Proper Lifting and Handling Techniques
If heavy lifting is required, workers should be adequately trained. It’s common for untrained individuals to move large weights the wrong way.
Incorrectly lifting and moving massive equipment can result in severe injuries, including musculoskeletal disorders (MSDS). Aside from improper techniques, lifting heavy materials regularly is another potential cause.
MSDS are widespread among construction workers and frequently affect the back or limb joints as well as muscles and tissues. The damage can cause mild to severe discomfort, too. What’s worse is there’s a possibility of permanent impairment.
The first step in promoting safe lifting methods is offering training to ensure the workers understand the need to use proper techniques. They should also be taught how to operate tools, vehicles, and other equipment for lifting and lowering heavy objects. In addition, they should be educated on the dangers of incorrect material handling or lifting.
Moreover, employers should consider the load weight and nature, the health condition of the workers, and the environment for completing the job. Workers with compromised health should not be assigned heavy lifting. Also, the environment should be safe and well-suited to the tasks to be performed.
#7 Conducting Machine and Equipment Maintenance
If a piece of equipment is not properly maintained, it can malfunction and fail, causing injuries to people using the machine and others within its surroundings.
Workers can contribute to keeping the construction equipment safe to use by performing regularly scheduled maintenance. The machine should also be sent to a repair technician once any damage is identified. Furthermore, routine checkups should be done according to manufacturer guidelines.
#8 Monitoring the Overall Well-being of Workers
The construction industry will not survive without two vital components: the tools and the workers. This is why all construction companies must safeguard the health and well-being of their entire workforce.
Due to the hazardous environment of construction sites, it’s inevitable for workers to be more susceptible to serious illnesses, including respiratory diseases like asthma, chronic pulmonary disease (CPD), and lung cancer. Engaging in strenuous activities can also increase their risk of heart conditions.
For prevention, it’s crucial for employers to monitor the health of every worker and make sure that every construction site is ready to handle emergency health situations. Companies should also allot extra funding in placing first-aid kits at each worksite. They should create an emergency contact list as well and have information on nearby medical clinics and hospitals.
Preventing Construction Accidents
Employers should take the time to teach, educate, and safeguard their personnel. When a construction worker is injured in an accident, both the worker’s and the company’s future can be drastically affected. Fortunately, accidents are preventable with the meticulous implementation of safety precautionary measures.
Diana San Diego is the VP of Marketing for O’Keeffe‘s Inc. with over 15 years of experience in public relations, marketing, and the architectural glazing industry. She enjoys golf and traveling.
- Mesothelioma cancer, https://www.asbestos.com/mesothelioma/causes/