While there are a number of safety and health regulations in place for construction sites, construction remains a dangerous profession. Workers on construction sites are exposed to health and safety risks on a daily basis. In 2016, one-fifth of all fatal workplace accidents happened on a construction site. And in the UK, fatalities occur among construction workers at the rate of one per week.
These numbers show that the safety and health of workers on construction sites is a matter of the highest priority. There are several steps that can be followed to safeguard workers, visitors, passerby and the site itself. Basic safety equipment and training, new technology like drones and wearable tech to monitor conditions and temporary heras fencing hire can all help to improve safety and health on the site.
Planning for Safety on the Construction Site
Safety on the construction site begins with planning and training. Safety and health regulations for construction sites are only effective if all workers are properly trained, and if they have the necessary safety equipment. The organization and layout of the site, safety rules for foot traffic and heavy machinery, regular inspection of all safety equipment, emergency planning, proper handling of hazardous materials, and health surveillance of workers are all measures that should be implemented for the safety and health of workers and visitors.
These steps are discussed below, but it should be kept in mind that safety rules can be very specific for each site, piece of equipment and situation. All detailed guidelines from manufacturers as well as regulatory agencies should be followed.
Training and Motivating Workers to Follow Safety Procedures
It is the responsibility of the employer or contractor to make sure that all workers have the necessary safety equipment and know how to use it. Safety equipment like harnesses and safety nets should be inspected regularly. Studies have shown that workers are more likely to follow safety procedures if the message comes from senior managers. A culture of safety begins with senior management, who can help make safety part of the daily work routine.
Site Access and Organization
The site organization should be planned carefully in advance before starting work. Access routes should be clearly marked and in good condition. Any falls and edges should be marked and protected with double guard rails. Holes in the floor should be clearly marked with warning signs and covered. The site should be well lighted and tidy, and all tools must be stored carefully.
Scaffolds, railings, and other fall guards should be in place for workers who will be operating at height. Nets and catch platforms to catch falling bricks and equipment can improve safety for workers and passersby. All safety precautions should be followed for excavations, and they should be regularly inspected to avoid cave-ins and risks to adjoining structures.
Traffic and Materials Handling
Any construction site has traffic that includes pedestrians as well as heavy machinery. The two should be kept apart as much as possible and warning signs and sounds should be used to warn pedestrians about moving machinery. All machinery and vehicles should be properly maintained and inspected regularly.
Loads should be secured, and the maximum load should never be exceeded. Machinery and hoists should only be operated by properly trained and qualified persons.
Emergency Plans and Procedures
There should be emergency plans and procedures in place for all kinds of situations, including fires and hazardous materials spills and leaks. All the people working on the site should be familiar with these as well as evacuation procedures. Evacuation routes should be kept clear, and there should be a reliable method of contacting emergency services. There should be adequate first aid supplies on site.
High levels of noise can pose a danger to site safety and the long-term health of workers. Workers who will be exposed to dangerous levels of noise should be provided hearing protection and their health should be monitored
Putting New Technology to Work for Safety
New technology can help monitor the safety of sites and workers. Drones that fly over and record site conditions can help identify potential problems. Mobile devices and wearable technology like smart watches and glasses can help to keep workers and supervisors connected to share accurate information rapidly.
Fencing can be crucial in maintaining site safety. It can protect tools and equipment, mark out danger areas and keep intruders out. Fencing can also be used to separate pedestrian walkways from roads used by vehicles and heavy machinery, for greater safety. Fencing is also necessary to keep the site closed to the public.
From planning to training to implementation, safety on the construction site is a continuing process. Starting with senior management, it should become part of the daily work routine.