Let’s face it, construction work is inherently risky. It is dangerous and can result in either serious injury, disability, or fatality. Take into consideration the 2022 FIFA World Cup in Qatar which was held last year. It was marred with Scandals and news regarding the safety and treatment of migrant workers working on stadium projects in the oil-rich Gulf state.
Each construction company must make workers’ health and safety a top priority. They must also ensure each worker is back home safe, healthy, and sound after the end of their shift. This is what is known as the golden rule of construction.
How dangerous is construction work?
Numerous reasons prove construction work is quite dangerous. Each construction site has its own level of pitfalls and complexities. Hence it presents its own unique challenges too. Controlled environments are different in comparison to construction sites because site conditions change almost daily without much indication.
Industry experts reveal that hazards and safety concerns in construction often happen when the progress of the project goes forward. New subcontractors and workers keep coming as newer segments of the project start and end.
Labor shortages do persist. Filling the gap with inexperienced workers is not a smart move. As they lack safety training, they can make things more difficult than earlier thought.
Tips on improving safety at construction sites for everyone involved
All workers and employees at construction sites need to be given a safe working environment. Nothing has to be overly complicated for anyone, whether employees, stakeholders, or workers. Creating a safe job site for everyone is something that should be a part of the pre-construction process. It can also be added to all future projects.
Here are some key steps devised by project advisory experts which can help bolster safety culture at construction companies and help promote commitment towards improving workplace safety:
Creating a proper plan
As each job site is different, a building-specific safety plan for each project is necessary. It is necessary because each building is not the same. As employees work on making their construction schedule, they should also be making sure the safety plan is made properly. They can rely on historical data of previous projects similar in nature. This helps them craft a proper plan.
In each phase of construction work, identification of safety hazards and other risks is compulsory. Here are some ways to help identify and reduce them:
- Engineering controls.
- Using personal protective equipment.
- Top-notch training.
Things like them change when work progresses. This is why professionals should focus on each stage/phase of a project carefully. This can help workers finish individual tasks on time.
During a project’s initial stages, the safety focus will be on potential hazards during construction work. Among them are equipment moving and rolling over, mishaps in trenches and pathways, terrain getting changed, and vice versa.
As the project progresses, the company can hire more workers who work at heights and in dangerous positions. The focus will also include fall protection. Ladders and safety measures for scaffolding are just the tip of the iceberg.
General contractors working on projects also need to include their subcontractors in the planning process. They should use their general expertise when it comes to understanding safety concerns which are part of their work. Hence it is compulsory to protect workers in the best possible manner at construction sites.
Making preparations for construction site safety
It is wise for construction project managers to stage tasks and other important parameters for safety at construction sites. Materials and equipment should be duly delivered along with proper arrangements for their storage. Industry and construction claim experts reveal that companies need to be two steps ahead of competing firms if they wish to make their job site workable.
Each construction site has specific areas for specific kinds of work to be designated as per the risk factor. The space and areas for storing materials should be different from daily storage. There should be medical bays and first aid rooms available as well.
Also, keeping personal protective equipment (PPE) is a good thing to do. Other needed daily supplies should be available as well. Moreover, measures should be taken to ensure no worker has to take a long trek to catch something. They should be able to get what they need at the most minimal of distances.
Zoning should be done in a way that hazard-prone areas are segregated from normal areas. No one should enter hazardous areas except for designated personnel. Areas that are dangerous need to be barricaded and cordoned off. Workers need to be reminded to be careful not to enter these areas. This is why appropriate signboards are needed.
Once access to certain areas is restricted, fatalities, injuries, and even disabilities can be prevented. Workers won’t get hit or get caught in between. With the reduction of foot traffic in certain areas, distractions are avoided too.
Holding talks and meetings pertaining to safety
Companies must ensure that both subcontractors and workers have received the needed comprehensive safety training materials and sessions. They should retain that knowledge to ensure they can work safely and will not get injured.
A way to reinforce safety training and to ensure workers understand the risks and hazards is through periodic sessions and workshops. They are part of talks and meetings pertaining to construction site safety.
Before any project begins, safety meetings should be held. This helps reminds workers not to be careless. Similar meetings should be held for each phase of a construction project. Should expectations be set for each worker? This may help in the prevention of construction claims.
Each worker should be given the knowledge and will to judge the level of safety at construction sites. Of course, they need supervision. Yet they must also be able to spot issues on their own. The same should be held for unseen and unaddressed hazards. They need to be spotted and fixed. Each worker must raise their voice in terms of safety violations and all things pertaining to safety.