General Construction 718 views Oct 23, 2019
Top Tips for Construction Safety

The law states that on construction sites action is required to protect those at work on site and members of the public. Therefore, necessary measures must be taken to ensure the health and safety of everyone. This can include enforcing rules within the workplace for employees and making the general public aware of the dangers of entering a construction site. Only authorised personnel who meet the necessary criteria should be allowed on site at any time. Construction sites can potentially be extremely dangerous, so following these safety tips should keep you and your workforce safe while on site.

Health & Safety Training

It is a legal requirement that employers offer and provide training to their employees. Not doing this can lead to substantial injures or even be fatal for employees. Whilst employers can receive hefty fines for not abiding by the regulations set out to ensure employee health and safety.

There are many courses available for working on construction sites, from manual handling courses to working at heights training. Ensuring all employees are trained in the required area will provide a fully qualified and highly competent workforce.

One in three injures at work are caused by the manual handling of heavy objects incorrectly. Providing manual handling training will enable workers to carry heavy components in a safe manner. In 2017 falling from height was the most frequent cause of fatal accidents at work, this is surly a good enough reason to make sure any employees working at height are fully trained and qualified to do so.

Not only will these injuries affect your employees, but your construction projects may suffer. If the vital work they were carrying out is halted whist they recover or a replacement cannot be found to finish the work, then the project will suffer as a consequence of this.

Safety Equipment

Within the construction industry there are many hazards and therefore, a vast amount of safety equipment should be used on a day to day basis to keep employees safe. This equipment includes:

Fall restraints/arrest systems can be used whist working at heights to prevent injuries or even death. This will either prevent construction workers from falling in the first place or can be used to prevent fatal injuries by safely stopping a worker from falling. These systems can consist of harnesses, horizonal lifelines and vertical lifelines.

Safety netting is another example of safety equipment which can be used whilst working at height. Having netting below someone working at height will allow a safe landing if they do fall.

Hearing protection should be used when working with loud machinery and power tools on a construction site to protect the ears. Since prolonged periods of exposure to loud noises can cause immediate and long-lasting damage.

Tool Lanyards are important types of safety equipment, as this will protect the safety of workers below. Attaching tools to a lanyard will ensure tools aren’t dropped from height onto people working, standing or walking below - which could cause considerable injuries.

Protective workwear

It is essential for all employees to wear the necessary protective workwear whilst on site. Some workwear is required all the time, whilst some workwear is only required in specific cases.

Boots must always be worn on site for protection, since there may be potentially dangerous equipment or machinery on the ground. Also work boots will provide grip for wet and slippery surfaces, particularly in winter when it may be snowy or raining.

Helmets must also be worn whenever on site to reduce the risk of head injuries, which could be caused by something being dropped or falling from above. Not only this but head injuries could also be uncured banging it on a low hanging piece of equipment such as a ladder or scaffolding.

High vis should be worn to stay safe on the job. The visible clothing will not only notify other employees but also members of the public will then be aware of construction work taking place and take the necessary precautions when passing by.

Sun protection is essential during the summer months, since working outside for prolonged periods can cause heat exhaustion or even heat stroke. Wearing protective clothes in the hot weather will allow breathability and protect the skin from the sun – reducing the risk of skin related diseases like melanoma.

Gloves should be worn for hand protection whilst working on a construction site. Wearing gloves will protect the hands from harmful chemicals, getting cuts from sharp objects or burns. Furthermore, during the winter months gloves can keep the hands warm and supple.

Face shields/masks or goggles should be used to protect the face, eyes and lungs if work being carried out emanates toxic fumes, particulate matter or hazardous chemicals.

Risk Assessments

Carrying out risk assessments is essential when managing health and safety in construction. A risk assessment will identify and evaluate any potential hazards or dangers on the site. In doing this the necessary control measures can be taken to ensure a safer environment. In certain construction sectors, a risk assessment is vital since employees may need to be notified about dangers which cannot be eliminated. For example, any electrical work will come with potentially severe risks which need to be recognised and employees must be advised to proceed with caution.

Visible Signage

Keeping employees safe is only half the battle – employers also must ensure the safety of the general public according to management regulations. Visible signage must surround the construction site giving warning to passers-by, so they are aware of the dangers of entering the premises. This could consist of signs saying, ‘Warning Construction Site’ or ‘Construction Site KEEP OUT’, they should be yellow, black or red as these are warning colours.

Safety fencing should surround the site to protect more vulnerable people and children who may wander onto site unaware of the dangers.

Site Organisation

No matter the construction activity, the site should be organised and tidy. Slips, trips and falls account for nearly one third of injuries on construction sites, whilst 40% of fatalities are caused by slips, trips and falls. However, there is a simple solution to prevent these injuries – by organising the construction site, keeping materials and equipment out of the way and keeping the site tidy should decrease the number of accidents.

Clearly in the winter when the ground is slippery, slips may be more common. Spreading grit or salt on the ground can be an easy fix to lower the chances of employees slipping.