The construction industry, more than any other industry, has the highest rate of work-related injuries in Canada; specifically, 24.5 per 1,000 workers, according to the International Labour Organization’s (ILO) 2008 statistics. Each year, workers face the many hazards common to construction sites, risking their health and even their lives for their jobs.
Employers and contractors face delays and additional costs each time an accident occurs. These are reasons why construction site safety is crucial in preventing accidents from happening in the first place.
A well thought-out construction safety program can go a long way in minimizing, if not eliminating completely, the occurrence of workplace injuries. Here are some general tips for making your construction site a safer place to work.
Safety training for construction workers
Knowledge is power. It’s essential for every worker to go through a safety training program to learn the basics of construction site safety. While every construction site is different, some general principles of safety should be observed. Specialized jobs such as welding, machine operations, and others will need specialized training geared towards safety practices for these types of work.
Training is especially critical for new and young workers. Most of the time, these workers that are hired per project and have no experience working in a construction site. Going through safety videos and demos will give them, at least, an idea of what to expect and the correct practices that promote safety in a jobsite.
Personal Protective Equipment
The employer or contractor is obligated to provide reliable PPE or Personal Protective Equipment for their workers. Hard hats, safety glasses, and proper work clothes should be mandatory in every site. Management should be open to workers’ request for PPE and regular safety inspection should be implemented.
Specialized jobs need specialized PPE. If the worker is working at great heights, they would need safety harnesses and lanyards. Welders should have safety gloves and a face shield designed for welders. Workers working with jack hammers and other loud equipment should be given ear protection equipment, such as plugs or earmuffs.
Cleaning and organizing work areas
According to a British Columbia construction safety statistic, falls account for majority of the workplace injuries for construction. This number holds true for most of Canada and the US. Slips, trips, and falls are identified as being the most common cause of accidents in construction sites.
It’s unfortunate as these injuries are mostly preventable just by observing simple practices such as organizing tools, equipment, and supplies in their proper storage when not in use. Clearing up work areas of debris and materials will go a long way in promoting safer work areas for construction workers.
Identifying and blocking off hazard areas
Only authorized personnel with the proper training and personal protective equipment should be allowed in hazardous areas such as ledges, confined space areas, scaffolding, etc. Limiting the workers’ access prevents unnecessary accidents especially in sensitive areas where specialized equipment and training is needed for work.
Practical solutions such as installing bold and readable safety signs are necessary for workers to be aware of construction site safety hazards and safety policies being implemented. Installing barriers with highly-visible warning markers discourages unauthorized entry to these hazardous locations.
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