The world would grind to a halt very quickly without the work our construction teams do and without the creation and maintenance of buildings that go on at many construction sites each and every day! However, there are countless horror stories about accidents, injuries, and even fatalities that occur on the work site – and most of them are due to failure to follow the basic safety procedures of the construction site:
- Getting on and off equipment
This is the leading cause of injury to those operating machinery and equipment. It is important to be smart when getting on and off pieces of equipment. Kick mud of boots and brush gloves clean before mounting or dismounting to improve gripping power. Use a step ladder or hand rail for added stability. Avoid carrying objects while climbing. And never jump off a piece of equipment or machinery.
- Loading/unloading equipment
There is always a risk of rollovers during the process of loading or unloading pieces of equipment. All loading and unloading must be done on a flat and level surface to minimize the risk. Use a spotter for guidance and make sure workers not involved in the task are kept clear of the area. Use the right tie-down procedures and tools to prevent sudden catastrophic failure of the restraints.
- People crowding the work area
Not only is this a risk for safety but it is a major hassle and headache for machine operators who are trying to do their job. Imagine trying to do a complicated task like lay tile on the kitchen floor with a dozen puppies running around the kitchen, trying to ‘help you’ work. Workplace foremen need to keep all work areas clear of non-essential personnel to maintain a safe work area for everyone.
- Machine swing radius
These are among the more common construction site injuries and occur because people underestimate the reach of their equipment. These are often the reason for scrape marks on walls and other beams and structures near a work area but they are also usually fatal when they involve people. This is why it is so important to know the swing radius area and to keep it clear of people at all times!
- Operation on slopes
Machines and equipment are best used on a flat level surface so they are properly balanced and supported. Extreme caution must always be used when operating machinery on slopes. Driving up slopes may be easy but coming down can prove dangerous in many instances and carrying loads up an inclined can also be dangerous. Know the limits of the machine and the area you are working in.
- Overhead or buried obstructions
Many injuries on construction sites come from hazards buried underground- electrical lines, sewer pipes, plumbing, and so forth- or hazards that all from above- boxes, pipes, tools, debris. It is important to mark known buried hazards so they can be avoided and to be wary of items falling from above so workers and anyone visiting the premises is not injured.
- Backing up hazards
Reverse motion is always a risky maneuver and add in reduced vision and other obstacles and hazards like people and other machinery and it can be a dangerous thing to try and do in a cramped and crowded area. When backing up make sure the area is clear of pedestrians, watch for other vehicles or machinery, have a safety alarm installed, and use backup cams if they are available. Here are some other tips on how to improve driving safety on construction sites.
- Tipping over machines and equipment
In some extreme cases, such as when a piece of equipment has been overloaded and improperly loaded, it can begin to tip over and fall. When this happens the safety belt is the lifeline that can keep an operator from getting injured or even killed. There is never a reason not to wear a safety harness or seat belt and it is the foreman’s job to ensure everyone follows this safety rule.
- Instability or loss of load
Moving items that are heavy, bulky, or that can change shape or move on their own- like a load of dirty or a load of pipes- can be very dangerous when people are around. These loads can easily shift and fall or begin to swing and get away from the machine operator. It is always best to have everyone get out of the way when moving these items and remember to never lift a load over people.
There are plenty of horror stories from construction sites that demonstrates why OSHA instituted the lock-out/tag-out (LOTO) rule. Any and all pinch points that are located on machines and construction equipment must be identified and as protected as possible to reduce the chance of injury. The minimum warning required for LOTO alerts is a pictorial decal advising of the hazard.
Working a construction site can be a risky job, so it is vital to follow all safety protocols and regulations. These tips will help you and your workers stay safe no matter what work is being done on the jobsite!