Construction Site Safety Best Practices
When managing a construction site, supervisors and contract superintendents must ensure a high level of safety not only for their labor force but for their legal protection. Risk assessment should be a priority for any job, big or small. Using the best practices of the industry as well as HoldRite products like TestRite DWV Inline Testing Systems, contractors can create a process that allows for a safe site during the entire construction project.
Let's take a look at some standard construction site safety best practices.
Inspect Site Often for Hazards
Both before projects are underway and while workers are on the site, contractors must inspect the area regularly for any possible concerns.
- Checking aerial lifts for stability. Make sure they are on a level, solid surfaces, and not near slopes or ditches that could cause them to come unbalanced. Scaffolding is also a common hazard area. Properly inspect all scaffolding for structural integrity.
- Keep the site tidy. Create a process that requires employees to clean up tools from their work area, at least at the end of each shift. Have a specific location for materials, debris, and tools. The cleaner a site is, the less likely someone will trip or step on something accidentally.
- Ensure equipment meets code. Your testing equipment should meet code requirements. Check that your site uses proven products like Holdrite's Testrite DWV Inline Testing Systems that minimizes spills and property damage.
Protect from Slips and Falls
One of the most common causes of injury on a construction site is a slip or fall, which can be avoided if contractors follow protocol.
- Guardrails and safety nets are correctly installed. Anytime there is a difference of 30 inches or more between an upper and lower level; you must have a guardrail to prevent falls. If your employees are working more than six feet above the ground, you must make sure there is another form of protection. Safety nets can serve this purpose and should be available to reduce the occurrence of injury.
- Construct ladders to OSHA standards. Ladders are a common cause of unintended injury on a job site, so supervisors must double-check their safety. Self-supporting portable ladders must be able to hold at least four times their maximum intended load, while fixed ladders should hold at least 250 pounds. Also, if you are using energized electrical equipment on the site, make sure the ladder side rails are non-conducive.
Provide Safety Gear
On the job site, workers are responsible for wearing gear that will keep them safe during their day. But contractors who follow best practices know that they must continuously create processes that encourage this protection.
These processes include:
- Providing hard hats on the job or requiring workers to bring their own.
- Demanding eye and face protection, especially for those using electrical equipment.
- Requiring steel-toed boots on the job to avoid foot injuries from dropped tools or materials.
- Supplying high-visibility vests to be worn on the job site at all times.
Use Appropriate Tools and Equipment
Some equipment is designed to create a safe environment on the job site. Using make-shift supports and clamps can easily result in avoidable injuries.
Some practices to consider are:
- Use 110-volt tools, not 240-volt. Unless there are no other alternatives available, a 110-volt is a lower voltage that is safer to use. If someone accidentally steps on a live wire, it is less likely to puncture through a safety boot.
- Use cast-in-place firestop solutions with OSHA compliant hole covers, like HoldRite HydroFlame sleeves. Sleeves come equipped with threaded caps that are OSHA compliant and allow for easy non-destructive removal.
- Keep sites dry with equipment like TestRite Test Wedges. These devices are easy to install while preventing water spillage, which increases safety on site.
- Use supports for pipes and other runs. Overhead runs – especially high and tight runs – need proper supports to reduce snaps and create flame-free environments at stub-out locations. HoldRite offers a wide variety of these supports for a safer site.
Hire Competent Personnel
Of course, the lack of skilled labor remains a concern for seasoned contractors. But hiring employees who have experience or a strong willingness to learn can go a long way to reducing injury and keeping your site safe.
When hiring, make sure that:
- Proper training is included. Supervisors cannot presume that new employees understand the protocols for construction site safety. Before anyone begins work, review the potential hazards and standards that you have implemented. It is a good idea to include a liability waiver so that they understand their responsibility for safety.
- Safety monitors are on site. These responsible supervisors must also be on the same working surface as those they are monitoring so that they can adequately identify concerns before they become problems. Workers are often focused on the task at hand so that monitors will provide a crucial second set of eyes during a shift.
Create a Culture of Safety
Finally, let employees know that they can report any potential concerns without fear of reprimand. Frequently, workers may notice something dangerous but not have a method of reporting it. It is your responsibility as a superintendent to support them during their workday.
This support can include:
- Having a suggestion box on site. Sometimes employees feel more comfortable to share their ideas for safety improvements in an anonymous way.
- Hold regular meetings, if only for short durations. Of course, you don't want to waste time on the job site, but let workers know that they are encouraged to ask questions and offer solutions to keep the site injury-free.
Having a secure and safe construction site is a daily requirement, not just something to be reviewed before a project. By following the best practices within the industry and using products designed for safety, you can reduce the potential for injury and decrease delays for a more productive, efficient, and successful construction project.