In 2009, studies showed that United States’ private construction workers had a serious injury rate of 9.7 injuries for every 100,000 workers. While this number might seem innocuous, it is nearly over three times that of all workers in America (3.3 per every 100,000) (CDC.gov). Furthermore, construction workers had the seventh-highest rate of injuries that required days off (382 per 10,000 full time workers).
As one can infer, the high rate of injury amongst construction workers is predominately due to the hazardous situations that often come with the vocation. Yet as of late, such injuries have been decreasing as more states and companies are focusing on implementing thorough construction safety protocols. Thus, in order to keep accidents on the decline, here are five keys for construction site safety.
Statistics from the same study mentioned above show that construction workers experienced 48 percent of all disastrous fall injuries within the contracting industry (CDC.gov). Considering this statistic and the potentially fatal nature of such drops, fall protection serves as a major key for construction safety.
Generally, fall protection systems are required if workers are exposed to the potential danger of falling ten or more feet (Note: it is the employer that is responsible for providing and implementing fall protection systems). Furthermore, there are four particular situations which require strict protocol in protecting workers from potentially fatal falls.
- Wall openings
- Established floors, balconies, and walkways
Although not as immediately observable as other site hazards, chemicals can be extremely dangerous, and sometimes even fatal. Thus, employers are required to provide a hazard communication program to employees who might be exposed to hazardous chemicals.
These hazard communication programs are extremely important as they provide specific insights about the specific employee protocol. Generally, such programs are informative in nature, detailing a variety of safety measures and the workplace’s chemical labeling system.
Hazard communication programs must also guarantee that all potential chemicals have been identified and evaluated to make sure that employees are safe from toxins or gases that may put their health in danger. Some of these chemicals may include:
- Toxic agents
- Compressed gases
- Organic peroxides
Note: It is also the employer’s responsibility to make certain that all employees are able to understand the safety information provided on pictograms and hazard statements.
Job Hazard Analyst
In order to make sure that all potential hazards are identified, employers can hire job hazard analysts that specialize in inspecting and controlling potential hazards. A job hazard analyst does this by segmenting each job into a variety of duties. Each duty is then thoroughly examined to see if there is a safer way to accomplish each task.
The Step-by-Step Process of a Job Hazard Analyst
- Review past history; conduct hazard analysis;
- Observe the segmented duties and note any exposures to potentially dangerous situations
- Establish a protocol for controlling hazards
- Write out protocol and ensure that it is implemented
Maintaining a Clean Site
For the entire duration of the job, employers are required to maintain safe and sanitary working conditions. At no point can any construction worker be exposed to conditions that are unsanitary or dangerous to their health.
In order to make certain that construction sites remain safe, any scraps with nails are to be removed from work sites, hallways, or stairs. Containers must also be required so trash, used rags, or other potentially unsanitary items can be stored away from workers. These containers must then be emptied at regular intervals so that waste does not build up.
Medical First Aid
In case accidents due occur, medical first aid services should be made readily available for every employee.
Key Requirements of Medical First Aid
- Medical professionals must be available for examining or consulting on matters relating to health and well-being
- If the construction site is a great distance from any hospitals or private practicing clinics, then an individual who is first-aid certified (U.S. Bureau of Mines, American Red Cross, or the like) must be present.
- First-aid kits must be available as soon as they are needed. Contents ought to be stored in a weatherproof kit and should be checked regularly by the employer or the certified professional
- Proper transportation must be easily accessible in case there is a serious injury
- If out of range of local 911 services, the contact information of hospitals or ambulances must be thoroughly posted around the construction site
Although this article reviewed five of the top keys for construction, it should be clearly noted that there are a variety of other construction safety essentials, as safety protocol typically differs on site-by-site basis. Therefore, when establishing proper safety methods, it is best to thoroughly inspect and analyze the construction site first, for every new site brings with it new challenges and risks.
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