The Importance of Health and Safety in Construction
Health and safety are important considerations for any construction project. You should start thinking about these aspects at project inception and continue to monitor them throughout the entire process. Keeping them in mind can help you ensure a safe and productive work environment. Missing the mark on health and safety can lead to added expenses, lost time and injuries. Follow our construction safety tips to help avoid any issues and get an optimal project outcome.
Why Construction Safety Matters
Construction is an inherently dangerous profession. From minor to severe injuries, the safety of your employees is critical. Practicing proper health and safety on the job site will do more than protect workers and the public. The right processes and procedures will also benefit your business by helping you:
- Stay compliant: Safety is a requirement in construction, it’s enforced by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA). A proactive approach to safety will help you avoid fines and other penalties.
- Respond more quickly to incidents: Incidents can happen even in controlled environments. Having processes already established and proper safety equipment readily available help workers perform a quicker response to limit damage and injury.
- Preserve your bottom line: Construction accidents can cause costly damage to property and equipment. Creating and maintaining a safe work environment will help you avoid incidents, keeping profits higher and protecting your reputation.
The Most Common Safety Risks in Construction
Given any industry, many risks are avoidable. Spotting problems and risks early on allow you to eliminate them before occurring. Other risks come with the territory, requiring planning, a sharp safety mindset and the right personal protective equipment (PPE) to prevent injury or death.
The most common construction safety risks include:
- Working up high: Falling off a ladder, scaffolding, ledge, piece of aerial equipment or another high location can quickly turn to a hazard.
- Slip, trip and fall hazards: Construction workers often have to work on wet, dirty and uneven surfaces and move around obstacles, increasing the risk of slips, trips and falls.
- Moving hazards: Construction uses some of the largest, most heavy-duty equipment. It can be challenging for operators to see workers on the ground, creating a risk for injury.
- Noise: Job sites are noisy places filled with activity, often featuring loud tools and heavy machinery. Prolonged exposure to excessive noise can lead to long-term hearing loss.
- Vibrating tools and machinery: Exposure to prolonged vibrations can lead to Hand-Arm Vibration Syndrome, a permanent condition affecting the nerves, blood vessels and joints.
- Collapses: Falling earth and debris pose serious safety hazards to anyone caught underneath. People working in trenches or buildings that collapse can be seriously hurt or killed.
- Material handling: Workers often move tools, equipment and material around work sites. Moving heavy loads with improper handling techniques can lead to muscle and joint injuries.
- Breathing hazards: Construction sites often have poor air quality. Dangerous airborne hazards are common, including chemical fumes and the dust kicked up from people and machinery.
- Electricity: Electricity is one of the top health and safety risks in construction. Common sources of direct and indirect exposure include faulty tools, improper wiring and damaged insulation.
Construction Safety Tips
Practicing proper health and safety in construction requires dedicated planning and constant mindfulness, but the investment is worth the reward. Your efforts will help keep people safe, lower costs and ensure projects go according to schedule.
1. Assess Your Risks
Assessment is the first step in avoidance. Depending on the project size, this part of the job may be up to a dedicated health and safety team, or it could be someone’s secondary responsibility. Their job is to identify hazards and determine what activities are dangerous, then recommend ways to work around them or give advice on how to make them safe.
2. Take Any Necessary Action
Once you perform a safety assessment, use the information to make an appropriate response. For some projects, this could mean qualifying workers, finding ways to separate people from moving machinery and installing safety signage. Make sure you provide all the necessary PPE in sizes appropriate for everyone.
3. Use the Right Equipment
Using the right tools and equipment will help eliminate multiple safety risks. It will also help you complete the job in less time. This category covers everything from hand tools, ladders and scaffolding to aerial lifts, heavy machinery and work tool attachments. If you need something for a particular job, you may want to consider a rental.
4. Provide Adequate Training
Everyone on a construction project must be familiar with the risks they face and know how to avoid them—from the leadership team on down. Ensure everyone has the training and skills to understand how to spot hazards and communicate them. They should also comprehend the steps they can take to do their jobs safely and effectively.
5. Make Safety a Habit
It’s essential to communicate the importance of health and safety in construction to the people working on the ground. A strong safety culture will encourage workers and visitors to be mindful of hazards, wear proper safety equipment and practice safe techniques. Make sure they have the resources they need to succeed.
Get the Solutions You Need to Do the Job Safely
If you have a project coming up, talk to the Cleveland Brothers team about getting the products and services you need to do it safely. At Cleveland Brothers, we are the regional Cat® dealer for Pennsylvania, northern West Virginia and western Maryland. We have over 70 years of experience helping our clients complete projects of all sizes by offering new and used equipment, rental, parts and exceptional service from 28 locations.
For more information on how Cleveland Brothers can help you get started today, call 866-551-4602 or complete this short form.