Unfortunately, 2015 saw a 4 percent increase in worker deaths, the largest number since 2008. By making safety a priority on construction sites, many of these deaths could have been prevented. Here are three ways to make construction sites safer.
Better training and inspection
Appropriate levels of training, coupled with inspection as a follow up, helps to prevent injuries on construction sites. Workers need to be aware of the potential dangers of their job and how to deal with them. Employers are required, for example, to train workers on any equipment they will be using on the job, including emergency equipment such as fire extinguishers. Employees must also receive training on any kind of hazard they may encounter on the construction site. This could include fall protection training, ladder and scaffold safety training and hazardous material training, as well as training for any other potential hazards.
Construction sites and equipment need to be properly inspected by a knowledgeable person on a regular basis. Equipment such as scaffolds and ladders should be inspected for damage each day before use. Workers should also inspect operating equipment and personal safety equipment every time they use them.
Improved fall protection
Falls are one of the leading causes of construction worker deaths, accounting for nearly 40 percent of all worker deaths. Sadly, many of these deaths could have been prevented. In 2015, for example, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration issued over 8,000 citations for improper fall protection. Employers are required to have a fall protection system in place to protect employees working on surfaces with unprotected edges or sides that are six feet above a lower level. Employers must install these fall protection systems before any employees begin work.
Workers should pay close attention to potential hazards and fall protection systems, and should never work in any area without protection systems in place. If you are working in an area that requires a personal fall arrest system, inspect the system for any damage before using it. Also ensure that your system is anchored to a strong, secure point that won’t allow you to drop more than six feet in the event of a fall.
Better communication about hazardous materials
Construction sites can contain a variety of hazardous materials, such as asbestos, lead, zinc, mercury, cadmium, and beryllium – and OSHA issued 1,000 citations for hazard communication in 2015 alone. Employers are required to have a hazard communication program in place, including a written inventory of all hazardous materials used on the construction site. All containers of hazardous materials must also be labelled and have a hazard warning.
Workers should always be aware of what hazardous substances are in the construction site. When handling these substances, workers should always wear personal protective equipment and appropriately clean up any spills that occur.
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