Five Steps for Improving Construction Site Safety

Date: September 16, 2020
By: Moldex Staff

Working on a construction site can be a dangerous occupation; that much is true. According to a report from Occupational Safety Health Administration (OSHA), construction-related fatalities accounted for 21.1% of all worker fatalities in 2018.

With nearly 6.5 million people working at over 250,000 construction sites across the U.S. on any given day, it’s easy to see why enforcing preventative construction site safety procedures is critical.

This Construction Safety Week, we want to make clear just how essential safety procedures are in the construction industry. If you’re a construction site manager or project manager, it’s your responsibility to implement the appropriate safety measures to safeguard your workers from unnecessary dangers and hazards.

Below are the five construction site safety procedures that need to be in place to improve worker safety:

1. Perform A Thorough Worksite Evaluation:

It sounds obvious, but regularly analyzing your worksite to identify any potential hazards is key to developing an effective way for eliminating or minimizing them and optimizing safety. Referred to as OSHA’s “Fatal Four,” the most common potential hazards workers may encounter on construction sites include; electrocution, falls, caught-betweens or caught-ins, and struck-by.

When evaluating the worksite, before allowing any work to commence, be sure to always check construction equipment, tools and machines in the construction site to ensure they’re safe for use. For instance, conducting proper planning and staging before starting the day ensures that employees have the right tools and equipment they need for their work.

After conducting an evaluation be sure to use clear signage so that all construction site safety procedures are known. Visible signage helps workers remember and understand safety protocols that need to be followed at all times. This should include the marking of separate entry and exit points for workers, vehicles and machinery. There should be clear signage for site amenities, as well as first aid and emergency fire equipment.

2. Provide Worker Training:

Training is key to ensuring workplace safety in all industries. Many project managers assume that all workers are aware of the construction site safety procedures, but that’s not always the case. Employers should develop a simple, but effective safety training plan for workers.

Your training plan should prioritize the most common mistakes, safety risks and incidents that you’ve noted in a specific area.

Make sure the training is in an easy-to-understand format that includes making materials available in multiple languages and using illustrative examples when possible. Workers will be more engaged if they can understand the training you’re offering. Whether you’re offering training to address certain violations or on site safety procedures for a new construction project, you should deliver training in an accessible and flexible model.

Failing to provide training to all workers, is one of the leading causes to the increase in injuries and fatalities in construction sites.

3. Supply Workers with Personal Protective Equipment (PPE)

As part of construction site safety procedures, all construction workers should be provided with the necessary personal protective equipment (PPE). Quality, well-fitting and comfortable PPE must be provided to all workers. The gear and equipment should be stored properly after use and be inspected and maintained on a regular basis. It isn’t enough to simply provide PPE; it also needs to be properly fitted.

For example, if filtering face piece respirators are required, ensure that workers are medically cleared and the mask they receive is properly fitted to their face to ensure a proper seal. Fit testing must be performed with an OSHA approved fit test protocol.

4. Promote and Enforce Good Practices

Ensure that management, site supervisors and workers are all enforcing good practices and rules. A construction site is most safe when everyone holds each other accountable, regardless of job title and function.

Employers should encourage workers to be part of the construction site safety program by allowing them to weigh in with their own ideas on how to improve worksite safety. In addition, employers should acknowledge workers that report safety concerns and hazards to supervisors and project managers. Most incidents can be easily avoided if someone speaks up, so remind them to speak up and in a timely fashion about safety concerns.

Due to the nature of working at construction sites, it’s hard to eliminate all safety risks. While enforcing good practices in construction sites may help prevent safety issues, it’s always best to minimize and manage risks in construction sites. This can be done by regularly conducting safety audits and having in place protocols to report, evaluate and address potential hazards.

5. Ensure Proper Material Handling and Storage

All construction materials and equipment should be stored properly when not in use to prevent materials damage, accidents or injuries. Ensure safe loading limits for materials stored inside a building. All passageways should be kept clear for workers.

All personnel working on a construction site should be aware of the proper material handling and storage procedures. For manual material handling, the expected lifting techniques should be made clear to avoid injuries. For handling using mechanical devices, operators need to be aware of the weight lifting capacity of equipment like cranes and forklifts to avoid potential accidents.

Construction sites present new safety challenges every day. Employers must be vigilant in maintaining safety at all times. Ensuring safety for all workers in a construction site takes more than just implementing a safety program or enforcing rules. There has to be a dedicated effort by supervisors, project managers and workers to ensure construction site safety procedures are followed every day. Bottom line, achieving safety takes teamwork.

At Moldex-Metric, we specialize in quality respiratory and hearing protection, in addition to helping employers institute safety programs. If your organization is interested in learning more about Moldex’s PPE and safety program options, contact us here. In addition, your organization can enter our Construction Safety Week Giveaway for a chance to sample some of our most popular hearing protection options.

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