Twelve of the 25 most-dangerous jobs in the United States are in the construction industry, according to a 2020 study by the business insurance analysis firm AdvisorSmith. It is based on data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics Census. There is no denying it: Construction is a dangerous business.
That is one of the main reasons why any construction manager or principal contractor must make every effort to keep people, facilities, and devices safe on a construction site. See below for some of the top ways to maintain safety on a construction site.
1. Safety Is Sacred
Safety on a construction site is not only imperative, it is sacred. That can be tough in an industry that often has tight deadlines and margins, but safety was never meant to be easy or convenient. Safety management requires a relentless commitment that is front and center at all times.
The construction industry has good reason to be safety-conscious. A study by the Maryland-based Center for Construction Research and Training (CPWR) found that fatalities in the industry declined by 30% between 1992 and 2015. The principal reasons? The adoption of zero-tolerance policies regarding dangerous working conditions and increased focus on safety by construction companies. Safety can also be highly beneficial to a construction company’s bottom line: The U.S. Department of Labor has estimated that well-established safety and health management systems can reduce injury and illness costs by 20-40% for companies.
2. Knowing Your Risks
Hazard identification and risk assessment (HIRA) is at the heart of any viable safety management system. As the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) puts it: “One of the root causes of workplace injuries, illnesses, and incidents is the failure to identify or recognize hazards. A critical element of any effective safety and health program is a proactive, ongoing process to identify and assess such hazards.”
Every potentially hazardous task undertaken by a worker and piece of machinery or equipment on a site needs to be adequately risk-assessed. These can encompass physical, chemical, biological, ergonomic, and psychosocial hazards, the last of which also includes critical human factors such as attitudes and behavior by workers. This process need not be complicated – the template below is a simple example of how HIRA can be calculated:
Courtesy: Chola MS Risk Services
3. Good Maintenance Is A Sure Thing
HIRA does much to secure people and ensure tasks are undertaken more safely on a construction site. For equipment and machinery, maintenance is key. Proactive construction asset management, whether implemented through preventive or predictive maintenance, will ensure that all devices on a construction site operate optimally. Assets that are kept in good operating condition are significantly less likely to cause a safety incident.
There is also a cost benefit: Construction machinery can be very expensive, and non-reactive maintenance can go a long way to ensuring that costly equipment breakdowns or undue deterioration are avoided where possible.
Having an intelligent, risk-savvy maintenance program in place guarantees improved productivity, better safety records, and lower long-term maintenance costs.
4. Good Housekeeping, Safe Construction Site
A construction site can be one of the messiest workplaces with potential trips, slips, and falls aplenty. But it need not be that way – nor should it be. OSHA gives a lot of importance to good housekeeping practices, as stipulated in standard 1926.25 of its Safety and Health Regulations for Construction. The standard stresses the importance of:
- Clearing all obstructions
- Keeping the workplace tidy
- Preventing falling objects
- Putting things away, including tools and personal protective equipment (PPE)
- Paying attention to all aspects and areas of a construction site
According to the Canadian Centre for Occupational Health and Safety (CCOHS), some of the best reasons to have good housekeeping include:
- Improved flow of equipment and work
- Fewer tripping and slipping incidents
- Decreased fire hazards
- Better control of tools and materials
- More effective use of space
- Reduced property damage
- Improved morale
- Improved productivity
A sound management system, holistic HIRA, intelligent maintenance, and good housekeeping: Four ways in which you can ensure that your construction facilities and equipment are optimized and all who work on the site are safe.