By Jim Lamelza
Special to Ontario Construction News
The safety of your workers should be one of your top concerns, and you can improve construction site safety by implementing these seven tips. By implementing these tips, you will be reducing the risk of your workers getting hurt on the job. This will allow your team to stay on schedule and get the job done on time.
In 2016, 5,190 workers were killed in the US due to on-the-job accidents. One in five or 21.1 percent of these deaths were in the construction field. As you can see, there is a huge risk just working in the construction industry.
If you own a construction company or manage a construction site, safety is paramount. If you want to ensure your workers are safe and avoid injuries, you need to have a plan. While using specialty construction software to help you develop a plan can be beneficial, there are some other steps you can take as well.
To help you get started with a construction site safety plan, use the tips here. Who knows, you may just save a life.
- Teach your workers the proper way to get on and off equipment
Did you know that getting on or off a machine is the top cause of injuries to truck drivers, forklift drivers and equipment operators? To ensure these accidents don’t occur on your job site, you need to make sure that your workers understand what they should or should not do.
The first step is to clean any mud or dirt off before climbing into a machine and use “high-grip” gloves to get a secure hold. Avoid using a finger-hold or toe-hold grip and if there is no hand or foot holds on the equipment, use a step ladder for easier access. Make sure your workers never try to carry items with them as they get into or out of equipment.
When exiting machines, there is proper way to do it, as well. For example, workers need to do this in a controlled manner, rather than jumping from the machine.
- Ensure proper face and eye protection
Construction job sites are dirty, loud and hazardous. There are countless ways someone may injure their face or eyes, from flying wood or metal, welding arcs, splashing chemicals or grit and dust – all of these things can damage your eyes.
In addition to ensuring face and eye protection and conducting a hazard analysis to see what type of protection is necessary – employers need to make sure any worker wearing prescription lenses has the ability to put the prescription into safety glasses or that they use safety eyewear that fits over their glasses.
- Avoid allowing people to crowd around a work area
Have you ever operated a backhoe, or know someone who has? If so, you have likely heard about or experienced an issue with people crowding around the machine. People love to gather around the edge of a hole being dug and watch the dirt being moved out of it. There’s absolutely no reason for them to be there – and this creates a potential for serious injuries.
It’s important that you create a policy that people on the ground stay away from the area where any heavy machinery is being operated. Be sure to review this at safety meetings and have foremen enforce this – not the machine operator.
When work is about to begin, make sure the operator knows to use the horn to warn people to stay away and always check before backing up.
- Warn about the machine swing radius
While you may not hear about them often, swing radius accidents are actually fairly common. After all, how do you think all the scrape marks got on the counterweight? Unfortunately, if there’s a person involved, the accident is usually fatal. As a result, it’s crucial that you rope off the swing radius around the machine. If you can’t rope it off, find an effective way to secure it. Use a spotter to ensure people remain clear of the area and don’t allow spectators nearby.
- Operating on a slope
Even the most skilled machine operator may find working on slopes challenging. While you may be able to make it up a slope with a load, coming down is an entirely different story.
Be sure that operators understand the limitations of the machine being used. Also, be aware of all surface conditions and don’t push the machine too far.
- Lock out/tag out
The majority of mechanics can tell you a horror story (or several) that clearly shows why the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) created the lock-out/tag out rule. Any raised load or another object, such as the attachment or bucket is required to follow the LOTO rule.
All of the pinch points on the machine need to be identified, protected and, if possible, guarded. The minimal warning allowed is a pictorial decal that advises of the hazard.
Mechanics, service personnel and refueling workers need to use the proper safety precautions to avoid accidents when working on or with the machines. This includes making sure you have adhered to proper steering wheel covers, wheel chocks and more with LOTO locks, tags, and make sure the necessary hardware is configured to the machine.
- Consider appointing a Safety Officer
Does your construction company or job site currently have a safety officer in place? If not, now may be the time to create this position and hire someone in charge of making sure the site is safe.
Workers may not always be thinking about safety, and instead, trying to get the job done. A safety officer can ensure all safety rules set by OSHA and those created by the company are enforced at all times. In the long run, this can actually help a construction company save money by reducing accidents and increasing productivity.
Construction site safety: What measures do you have in place?
When it comes to construction site safety, you can’t have a passive attitude. You have to be proactive in preventing accidents, injuries and even fatalities.
The tips and information here should help you get started with you own construction site safety plan. If you need additional help with your construction business, such as budgeting ideas for project management, be sure to visit our blog.
Our team is constantly posting new resources for those in the construction industry and are dedicated to keeping you informed.
Jim Lamzela is president of Databid.com