About 20% of worker deaths in the US are in construction, even though the industry only takes up about 6% of the workforce. With the number of hazards laying around the construction site, accidents happen.
A cluttered workspace or improper usage of scaffolding can lead to a nasty fall. If you neglect to wear your personal protection equipment, you leave yourself vulnerable to chemical splashes and damaged eardrums.
Working outside gets hot. Unless you want to make yourself sick or worse, you’ve got to stay hydrated.
These are only a few construction safety tips that you should keep in mind. Keep reading to learn more.
1. Not Wearing PPE
Do you know how when you were in high school, you had to wear closed-toed shoes, safety goggles, and a white coat before you could set foot in the science lab? Construction sites work the same way.
There are a few things that you’re going to need to stay safe while you’re at work. These items can be broken down into 6 categories.
Eye and Face Protection
When using construction machinery, you’re going to face hazardous chemicals and flying debris. If you don’t wear a pair of safety goggles, you could take an eye out.
There are a few different types of goggles that you can wear, but most construction sites stick with the tried and true general glasses. On top of covering your eyes, they must have a shield that guards your temples to be OSHA compliant. They won’t stop chemical splashes, but they can protect you from most debris.
Construction tools can be rough on the hands. Not only that, but it leaves you vulnerable to chemicals, burns, cuts, and scrapes.
To keep yourself protected, you need a pair of sturdy gloves that will allow you to retain the flexibility you need to do your job. The simplest (and cheapest) option is cotton. This material will save your hands from minor cuts.
If you need something with a little more durability, upgrade to Kevlar. It’s made with industrial workers in mind. It’s cut-resistant and will protect your hands from extreme heat and cold.
Most construction companies require their employees to wear long sleeves and pants. That can seem counterproductive considering most jobs put employees out in the hot sunshine, but there is a method to the madness.
Long sleeve shirts can actually keep you cool if they’re made out of the right material. They prevent harmful UV rays from beating down directly on your skin.
During the winter, long pants and sleeves block chilling winds. Keeping the skin covered can stop you from scraping up your legs and hands while using tools too.
If you work at a job site that includes construction vehicles, it’s recommended to wear high-visibility clothing as well.
Construction workers are exposed to a lot of airborne hazards, however, not all jobs require the use of respiratory protection. A workplace evaluation will take place to determine if face masks and respirators are needed.
If conditions dictate that you need to wear a facial covering, you will have to fill out a questionnaire that will highlight the results of the evaluation.
Building equipment can be loud enough to damage one’s hearing unless they’re using something to protect their eardrums.
Disposable earplugs are a good one size fits all option. They block any and all sound, and they’re pretty affordable.
Reusable earplugs are a little more expensive than their disposable counterparts, but they’re super durable. You will have to clean your reusable earplugs after a long day on the job.
Foot injuries can take a long while to heal. Cuts and blunt force damage are two of the most common accidents that occur to those not wearing proper workboots.
The shoes you wear on the job site should have a protective steel toe. They also need to be slip and abrasion-resistant.
Since you’ll be working on your feet all day, your boots should be comfortable and offer plenty of support as well.
2. Refusing to Follow Signs
When someone makes a spill, they put a sign up to inform everyone. If an employee refuses to follow that sign, it could result in a nasty fall.
Even more devastating would be if a forklift driver failed to adhere to safe conditions and warning signs. Their negligence could cause them to crash into another worker.
3. Improper Use of Scaffoldings
Scaffoldings are basic building materials. Millions of construction workers use them on a daily basis.
Since scaffoldings are typically hoisted high up, a faulty one can result in a fatal accident. That’s why all workers who use them should wear a protective harness. They should also receive thorough training in how they work.
4. Neglecting to Stay Hydrated
When faced with hundred-degree weather, the human body will produce sweat as a safety measure to keep cool. It can’t do that if there’s no liquid to sweat out.
That doesn’t mean workers should be allowed to sip sodas and fruit juice. These drinks contain enough sugar to increase the body’s need for hydration.
To this end, make sure that you carry a water bottle around with you wherever you go and drink often. Set reminders on your phone to take a sip if you need to.
5. Keeping a Dirty Job Site
Before you leave your post each day, take the time to clean. Any loose nails, stagnant water, or even dust can prove to be a slipping hazard.
When you’re finished with your tools, unplug them and store them away. It will keep your fellow workers safe and prevent valuable equipment from getting broken.
6. Not Getting on and off Equipment the Right Way
Trucks and forklifts sit high enough off the ground where a fall can cause serious damage. To prevent yourself from slipping, check your boots and gloves for mud before you attempt to climb.
Most construction vehicles have footholds you can use. If yours doesn’t, use a step ladder.
Don’t carry objects while getting in a forklift. You’re going to need full use of your hands and feet.
When you need to exit the vehicle, descend slowly. Don’t jump out of the forklift.
7. Neglecting to Report Safety Issues
If you’ve noticed that your supervisors aren’t using def headers or taking any measures to maintain construction equipment, report it to higher management.
Not taking proper care of machinery can result in defects. The person using the faulty equipment could be injured.
8. Wrong Usage of Tools
Equipment doesn’t have to be faulty to cause a fatal accident. You have to practice certain precautions with power tools.
When using a saw, cut away from your body. Don’t push on your wrench to loosen a stubborn screw.
If you don’t have the right tool on hand to tackle a particular job, don’t proceed. Swapping the correct piece of equipment for the next best thing will result in injury.
9. Rushing to Meet Deadlines
Your construction company is only going to give you a certain amount of time to finish a job. If you don’t meet the deadline, it will affect your earnings.
This being said, it can be tempting to rush and throw caution to the wind to avoid a reprimand. The second you begin to rush is the second that you lose track of your surroundings. That can be deadly on a construction site.
Not only is hurrying dangerous, but it could cost you more time. There’s nothing that can slow down production quite like backtracking to fix a mistake.
10. Failing to Communicate
This one is for the supervisors out there. When you’re giving instructions, you have to do so as clearly as possible. Fancy lingo and half-hazard explanations will do nothing but confuse new workers.
Training takes time, but it exists for a reason. If you try to hurry through the process, someone could get hurt.
Regular workplace meetings are a must as well. It gives workers the chance to ask burning questions and bring up any concerns involving the job.
Construction Safety Tips to Live By
If you don’t practice proper construction safety, it can be one of the most dangerous jobs. Before using heavy machinery, you need to arm yourself with the right gear.
You can’t enter a high school science lab without goggles and closed-toed shoes. The principle is the same with construction.
It’s also important to pay attention to your surroundings and report any possible dangers to a higher-up. Don’t try to rush through the work and if you’re a supervisor, remember that communication is key.
For more tips that will help you stay safe on the job, visit the Business section of our blog.