The construction industry has its own share of occupational hazards, with many resulting from inefficient site organization, miscommunication, or accidents. As one of the country’s most important sectors, those involved in the industry should avoid hazards at all costs, in order to save the lives of the more than 2 million workers. Fortunately, construction site safety hazards can greatly be minimized as long as workers receive proper training, strict worksite protocols are in place, and procedural checklists are understood.
In any construction site, be it for a civil, private, or commercial job, risks may arise from a number of construction elements, like scaffolding, electrical equipment, heavy machinery, and chemical compounds. Understanding potential sources of such risks is the key to minimizing accidents or altogether preventing them from happening. Read on to learn more.
In the United States alone, scaffolding-related accidents account for around 60 deaths and almost 5,000 injuries annually. When put in the perspective of the Philippines, marked by a country experiencing a boom in construction and infrastructure development, there’s no doubt that this figure would be much higher across the board.
If the millions and millions of workers conducting work in different construction projects across the country aren’t accorded protections, then these accidents may become a frequent sight. Optimizing scaffolds and other related structures should be the priority, in this case, ensuring that scaffolding is stable, rigid, and can carry the specified amount of weight without toppling over.
On your construction project, for example, make sure that the scaffold is equipped with structural materials and components that improve its safety and functionality. Some examples are mid-rails, toe boards, planks, ledgers, scaffolding boards, diagonal branching, base jacks, ladders, and the like. Pre, during, and post-construction, the scaffolding should also be inspected by a professional to ensure that it won’t hit power lines and other structures.
Falls may happen more frequently in construction projects that involve work done at a height — be it mid-rise, high-rise buildings, or skyscrapers. Most cases are a result of inefficient or poor use of ladders, scaffolding, or fall safety equipment, resulting in injuries that may be fatal.
All of these could be avoided if construction sites see to it that any potential areas of fall accidents are addressed. Site managers should also consistently ensure employees have sufficient access to fall protection gear, like hard hats, correct uniform sizes, non-skid boots, gloves, high-visibility vests, and many more. Markers and signage should be put up strategically in different locations on-site, especially where workers may need to work more than 6 feet above the ground.
Similar to scaffolding, some ladders and staircases may be found across construction sites as temporary fixtures during the building phase. Different subcontractors may need to make use of these structures, especially when conducting electrical, plastering, cladding, ceiling, or roofing work.
To prevent instances of ladder-related injuries, site managers should also oversee how these temporary fixtures are installed and how often workers are following safety rules when using them. For example, when considering the load capacity in designing staircases/ladders, there should be consideration of the weight of the worker, as well as, the tools and equipment they’re carrying. When accessing different levels, the ladder should also be extended at least 3 feet above the above landing surface to avoid slippages and falls.
Some construction site professionals will also be deployed to work on different types of machinery and equipment. Some will need to operate forklifts, bulldozers, tractors, wheel loaders, and mobile cranes, while other workers will need to handle operations of small or mid-sized machinery. Whatever the case, accidents will almost always transpire due to poor use of such machinery and failure to implement the right safety precautions.
For example, a person may be struck by heavy-moving equipment for a number of reasons. It could be that the driver did not see them, or the individual was unaware that a vehicle was heading their way. Other sources of accidents may be through faulty mechanics and failure to follow guidelines during operation.
That being said, these deadly accidents could be avoided with the right safeguards in place. Workers should keep a distance from any heavy-moving equipment, and likewise the driver should have optimal visibility while in the carriage. When working at night, ample construction lighting must be set up at specific locations to improve visibility and reduce accidents.
Asbestos has long been popular across many industries as a fire retardant. For several decades in construction, it has also been used as an additive for construction materials like concrete, vinyl, asphalt, joint compounds, adhesives, and many more.
There are, however, known hazards when using asbestos, Prolonged exposure from asbestos fibers that disperse into the air, for example, can cause a number of health problems and cancers that affect the heart, chest, lungs, or abdomen.
Construction sites that are using this material in any of their operations should know the risks associated with asbestos and likewise implement a control program. The framework should outline how decontamination, control, and use should be done. All workers should be protected by providing them with PPEs and training them in methods to prevent misuse of this hazardous material.
You’ve learned about some of the most common construction site safety hazards that happen on a daily basis in the industry. Ultimately, site managers should conduct a thorough assessment of all safety procedures that are being implemented in their project in order to get ahead of these hazards. At the same time, workers should be aware of the best practices when it comes to maintaining their own safety.
In order to effectively mitigate issues regarding site safety, the root cause of these accidents should be understood. This guide hopefully offers information that will be of value to project managers, workers, and the industry as a whole.