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Construction Site Safety


A worker on a construction site

Despite every conceivable safety precaution and ensuring workers have had health and safety training up to the eyeballs, there will always be some workplaces which are still highly dangerous in terms of the potential for accidents to occur. The construction and demolition industry is one such example of places of work which fall into this category, and in fact are often listed within the top ten most deadly professions in existence. On-site injury is a common fate of construction workers. A single step in the wrong direction could result in someone falling to their death. Because of this, businesses and workers must do all that they can to lower the likelihood of on-site injury.

Construction site safety should be a top priority for any construction business, not only for the sake of the business and the construction workers, but also for anyone else in a construction area.

Workplace safety for a construction site is a different beast than most other workplaces. Construction businesses must place heavier-than-usual emphasis on training in addition to monitoring all necessary equipment and ensuring that it is updated and maintained in a proper manner. Along with site managers and site supervisors introducing safety measures, workers must be trained in how to prevent accidents, provide basic first aid, and prevent long-term physical harm (from the noise and long hours of physical labour).

The Dangers of Falls from Height

Fall prevention goes beyond saying to workers "Don't fall!" Businesses should ensure that workers know how to test if a platform or construction area is unsafe to walk on. If necessary, workers should have harnesses to help them stay balanced while working in a high, windy area. Pulley systems should be utilised to transport tools to and fro from high areas instead of workers climbing down to retrieve them. Depending on the height, ladders or lifters should be provided for workers to reach the high points of buildings. A worker should never have to climb a building without appropriate harnesses and safety precautions, as the risk of their grip slipping is too great.

Manual Handling

The proper handling of equipment is another essential part of accident and injury prevention to workers on a construction site. "Proper handling" includes knowing how to use equipment and utilising the corresponding protective gear for the respective piece of equipment. Every employee who is assigned to a certain job must know how to work the required equipment. For example, those who are in charge of digging large ditches must know how to work a trencher. In addition to knowing how to operate a tool or piece of machinery, workers should know what to do in the case of equipment failure or malfunction. Businesses should inform workers of the most common types of failure for each piece of equipment and the procedure to follow should this occur. This will usually involving stopping work with it immediately and informing a supervisor of its defectiveness, whilst also ensuring that nobody else picks it up and uses it whilst they are gone.

Protective Equipment

Once workers know how to use the required equipment for their job, they must also be provided with the appropriate protective gear. Whilst eliminating the danger altogether is the most preferable option, it will rarely be practical or feasible on the construction site and so the issuance (and wearing) of suitable Personal Protective Equipment needs to be done, including the correct maintenance and checking of its condition. Safety gear will often need to be worn even when using the simplest of tools, such as thick gloves and secure goggles to protect the eyes, along with hard hads, steel toe-capped boots to protect feet and high-visibility jackets. Additional gear may be required if workers are dealing with heavy machinery or are working in a particularly dangerous area.

Be Aware of Surroundings to Stay Safe

Awareness of surroundings is a crucial component of accident prevention on construction sites. Workers must be aware of their surroundings at all times. Unnecessary distractions, such as a worker listening to music via headphones, should be kept to a minimum and certain actions discouraged at all times. If a single employee is in a precarious construction area, the employee should have an attentive spotter ready to ask for or provide immediate aid in the case of an incident. In general, employees should not only look out for themselves, but for their co-workers. Sometimes injuries happen consecutively. For example, if a person falls down from a shaky part of a building's infrastructure, the force of that person falling may cause other workers to fall. Workers must be vigilant in what they do, and in the case of sensitive situations, what others do.

Accredited health and safety training courses dealing with construction site issues like the NEBOSH Construction Certificate will provide attendees with a tremendous amount of knowledge regarding how to keep themselves and others safe on a construction site, which is why they are so highly recommended.

First Aid

Another area of construction site safety is the training of workers in basic first aid. Not only is it a good idea for workers to be provided with comprehensive first aid kits, but they should also be trained in how to at least placate minor to severe wounds. If a wound goes unprotected on a construction site, workers run the risk of getting plaster, wood dust, or any other construction material in the wound. This can lead to the wound becoming worse or developing an infection. Severe wounds should be tended to as well as possible, and although workers may not be able to stop the wound from bleeding, they should at least know how to slow down the bleeding by applying the right amount of pressure to the wound. Their first aid training should also include the summoning of additional assistance such as an ambulance.

Preventing Long-Term Injuries

A third item of safety on a construction site is the prevention of long-term injury. When people earn a living lifting, drilling, and carrying heavy materials all day, long-term injuries can easily happen. Common ailments from construction work include back aches, shoulder pains, and hearing problems. To delay injuries that can be caused by the manipulation of heavy materials, workers must be trained in the proper manual handling techniques. By using their own judgment, workers should know when an item is too heavy to lift without the assistance of equipment or another worker. To protect workers from hearing damage, workers on construction sites should be required to wear specially designed ear defenders when appropriate.

However many precautions are taken to keep individuals safe from harm, construction work will inevitably take its toll on the body over time, and unfortunately longtime workers will experience back aches and other ailments. Even utilising the proper manual handling techniques, workers will one day have to admit that the work is wearing down their bodies as the years advance. Employees who feel that they are no longer in a well enough physical condition to handle construction work must absolve themselves of their position, or at least the most strenuous physically-intensive parts of the job. Workers who refuse to admit to the deterioration of their physicality are a liability to not only the company, but also their fellow workers.

Protecting the Public

In addition to ensuring the safety of their workers, businesses must also prevent members of the public from getting harmed. The public should always be notified that there is construction work occurring in an area. Simple measures such as putting up a few "Keep Out" and "Danger: Construction Zone" signs and building a fence around the construction zone should be enough to notify the public and prevent both accidental and deliberate incursion into the area, although additional measures may be required for the latter such as more robust perimeter fencing and security patrols at night when the site is empty.

A strict interpretation of construction site safety is a necessity for any construction zone. Businesses need to ensure the safety of their workers at all times, just as workers need to take responsibility for their own and that of their colleagues also.

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Noise Awareness

Noise Awareness Online Training Course

The Noise Awareness online course will highlight just how dangerous noise can be in the workplace, and the main noise safety issues you should be aware of.

It will take you through some of the simple science, the main legislation that applies, and introduce you to noise level limits.

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