Every employer is responsible for safeguarding the health and safety of their staff irrespective of the industry and the nature of work being performed. In case of construction workers, they work in a high risk environment that is subject to electrical hazards and the dangers of construction machinery. In fact, according to SafeWork NSW, “around 25,000 workers suffered injuries on NSW construction sites in the last 3 years due to unsafe work conditions. 23 workers were killed and 1700 were left with permanent disabilities”.
8 Ways to Keep Construction Sites Safe:
1. Manage and Mitigate Risk with a Safety Training Program
Due to the risk inherent in construction work, all employees must be trained and instructed to point out high risk areas for efficient emergency management. While it is impossible to eliminate the risk completely, training programs can educate site workers to conduct regular safety audits. This will enable them to assess and address potential risks and greatly minimize the possibility of injuries, thereby ensuring a safe working environment.
2. Ensure Electrical Safety at Construction Sites
With an average of one worker being electrocuted on the job every day in the U.S., electrocution is the fourth leading cause of death on construction sites. The use of power and electrical transformers on construction sites is particularly hazardous due to the use of flexible extension cords and scattered power cables in damp conditions.
Tips to ensure electrical safety at construction sites:
• Overhead and underground power transmission lines can be lethal so it is important that the construction crew maintains safe distance from them, all the lines are grounded, all construction electrical products are insulated using sleeves and all heavy equipment are de-energized when not in use.
• Check that all the extension cords are adequate for the amount of current being carried to avoid fluctuations and overloading. All construction electrical products must be UL approved and have strain relief along with a three-prong grounding plug for safe usage.
• If a portable electrical product is used in a damp environment, it is essential to ensure that a transformer is used to isolate the voltage between conductors so it does not exceed 230 volts.
• Construction electrical products must be rated for heavy-duty usage and a GFCI should be employed for ground-fault protection.
3. Implement Strict Security and Safety Protocols
Construction site access should be limited to ensure protection of heavy equipment and machinery from theft and damage. The safety of pedestrians from potential hazards of a construction site requires strict supervision while the work is on. Only authorized visitors should be allowed on site and strict safety protocols should be enforced to protect contractors from liabilities, security breach and litigation due to negligence of safety.
4. Have a Safe Work Assessment Process in Place
An SWMS (Safe Work Method Statement) must be prepared and implemented for all high-risk projects prior to the commencement of work. This statement must clearly outline the scope of work and potential risks involved along with ways to avoid or manage them. Ideally, no construction work can be commenced until all the SWMS standards have been met.
5. Make Sure Chemical Storage Safety Requirements are Strictly Followed
Chemicals can cause pollution, fire, explosion and serious injuries if not stored, handled or used with caution. Using high-quality and compliant storage solutions for chemicals can reduce the risk of spillage and fatalities.
6. Display Signage Clearly at the Construction Site
The SWMS must be clearly displayed throughout the construction site so that all the safety protocols are visible at all times. It should also include a 24-hour emergency number along with a map that leads to the office. The signage should indicate the location of fire extinguishers, first aid supplies, emergency exits, and amenities available on site.
7. Plan and Prepare for Adverse Environmental Conditions
Unfavorable weather conditions can invite serious accidents on construction sites. Every construction site must have a contingency plan that guides workers with clear instructions to stop work in case of extreme weather conditions and steps to handle emergencies in case of natural disasters.
8. Provide Personal Protective Equipment
An employer is obligated to provide his staff with all the necessary PPE including safety harness, safety goggles, head protection gear, and fall protection depending on the type of work.
These safety tips make a good starting point for implementing a safety program and for ensuring electrical safety at construction sites.
Jeson Pitt works with the marketing department of D&F Liquidators and regularly writes to share his knowledge while enlightening people about electrical products and solving their electrical dilemmas. He’s got the industry insights that you can count on along with years of experience in the field. Jeson lives in Hayward, CA and loves to explore different cuisines that the food trucks in the Bay area have to offer.