6 Construction Site Safety Tips for Both Workers and Managers

Safety Challenges Faced By Plant Safety Professionals
December 1, 2019
Ensuring Electric Safety Within Manufacturing Environments
December 10, 2019

Construction sites have a number of safety issues that arise from the very nature of the occupations that pervade on them. There are a number of hazards that are worth mentioning that are particular to construction sites.

For each standard cited we have a brief explanation of the standard or hazard along with some general tips for workers to keep in mind along with some of the requirements for employers to follow in order to provide a safe work environment for their employees.

1) Fall Protection:
Duty to have fall protection is the most cited standard in the construction industry and is one of the leading causes of worker deaths in construction.

Workers: Workers should familiarize themselves with all potential fall hazards on a job site. Never work in an area where fall protection systems have yet to be installed. The lanyard or lifeline should be short enough to prevent the worker from making contact a lower level in the event of a fall. This means taking into account the length of the lanyard, length of dynamic elongation due to elastic stretch and the height of the worker.

Employers: Employers are required to provide fall protection systems to protect their workers on walking or working surfaces with unprotected edges or sides that are six feet above a lower level. Fall protection can include guardrails, safety net systems and personal fall arrest systems. Guardrails are the only method approved that actually prevents falls from occurring. Safety nets and personal fall arrest systems prevent workers from falling a great distance.

2) Scaffolding

Approximately 65% of all construction workers perform work on scaffolds. Employees performing work on and around scaffolding are exposed to falls, electrocutions and falling object hazards.

Workers: Hard hats should be worn when working on, under or around a scaffold. Workers should also wear sturdy, non-skid work boots and use tool lanyards when working on scaffolds to prevent slips and falls and to protect workers below. Workers should also be prohibited from using boxes, ladders or other objects to increase their working height when on a scaffold.

Workers should never exceed the maximum load when working on scaffolds. Workers should not climb scaffolding anywhere except for the access points designed for reaching the working platform. Tools and materials should be hoisted to the working platform once the worker has climbed the scaffold.

Employers: All scaffolding should be designed, erected and disassembled by a competent person. A competent person should also inspect scaffolding before the start of work each day to ensure that it is safe for use.
Scaffolding should be erected on solid footing, fully planked and at least 10 feet away from power lines. Scaffolding should be erected with guardrails, midrails and toeboards to protect employees working on, under and around scaffolding.

3) Stairways and Ladders

Improper ladder use is one of the leading causes of falls for constructions workers resulting in injury or death. Reasons for ladder falls include incorrect ladder choice, failure to properly secure the ladder and attempting to carry tools and materials by hand while climbing.

Workers: Portable ladders should be long enough to be placed at a stable angle extend three feet above the work surface. Workers should tie ladders to a secure point at the top and bottom to avoid sliding or falling. Tools and materials should be carried up using a tool belt or a rope to pull things up once you’ve stopped climbing.

Employers: A competent person should inspect all ladders before use each day. Defective ladders should be marked or tagged out and taken out of service until they can be properly repaired. Workers should be trained on ladder safety and know how to select the proper ladder for the job. If workers are using energized electrical equipment, ladders should have nonconductive side railings.

4)Fall Protection

Falls are the leading cause of fatalities in construction, accounting for nearly 40% of all worker deaths. Providing proper and ongoing training to workers can go a long way in reducing the number of falls suffered at the construction site.

Workers: Workers should be able to recognize the hazards of falling and know the procedures to follow to minimize hazards and prevent falls.

Employers: A competent person is required to provide training to all employees that might be exposed to fall hazards. Again, this should cover all employees because at some point nearly everyone on the construction site is exposed to a fall hazard of some type Retraining is required for changes that render prior training obsolete and instances where it is apparent that a worker has not retained enough knowledge from the training program to ensure their safety.

5. Personal Protective and Life Saving Equipment: These hazards are present when doing a variety of task on the job site such as welding, chipping, grinding, masonry work, sanding, woodworking and drilling. When flying object hazards are present, eye protection must be equipped with side protection or be fitted with detachable side protectors.

Workers: When wearing eye and face protection, workers should make sure that they don’t interfere with their movements and fit snugly on their faces. Eye and face protection should be kept clean and in good repair. Workers should inspect face and eye protection before use to ensure it is free of cracks, chips and other damage. Eye and face protection that become damaged should be replaced immediately.

Employers: Employers are required to provide eye and face protection to workers free of charge. Eye and face protection must meet one of the following consensus standards: Employers should issue eye and face protection to workers based on an assessment of anticipated hazards. If workers have prescription lenses, employers are required to make sure that they have eye protection that incorporates the prescription or that can be worn over the corrective lenses without disturbing them.

6) Toxic and Hazardous Substances : This is a general industry standard that focuses on requirements for employers that have hazardous chemicals in their workplace. Some examples of hazardous materials commonly found at construction sites include lead, silica, asbestos and treated wood or wood that will be cut and generate dust. Certain building materials also contain hazardous chemicals such as zinc, cadmium, beryllium and mercury.

Workers: Workers should be able to read and use Material Safety Data Sheets (MSDS) for any hazardous chemical being used at the construction site. Employees should wear proper PPE when handling hazardous chemicals and should clean up any spill when they occur.

Employers: Employers are required to implement a written hazard communication program that includes an inventory of all hazardous chemicals used at the site. All container of hazardous substances must have a hazard warning and be labeled. Employers should have an MSDS available for each hazardous substance. Employees should be trained regarding the risk of all hazardous chemicals along with proper handling instructions.

All of these above 6 hazards represent issues common to construction sites. As a result, these are concerns that are mutual to both workers and employees. With this in mind, these prospective solutions from both employees and employers to these 6 issues help to try and bridge the gap between these 2 parties in order to go about resolving these issues.