Construction has long been one of the core industries powering America’s economic growth, and in the last decade, it has become even more prominent than it was in the recent past.
Construction site safety rules and regulations are designed to keep workers healthy and job sites open, but growth in the industry creates new challenges for construction companies, even those with solid safety procedures.
Challenges Posed by Growth
According to the CDC’s construction safety statistics, in 2019, 11 million workers held jobs in the construction sector. This marks a 25% increase from the industry’s total workforce in 2011.
Since construction naturally involves hazards that require a careful outlook, an influx of new workers during periods of growth leads to an imbalance of knowledge among those workers. This, in turn, leads to a higher rate of accidents at job sites unless there is some intervention. To correct that issue you need a strong emphasis on safety education and the right tools.
Top Areas of Concern for Construction Safety and Regulations
Every industry has unique risks that are defined by its most common causes of injury and fatality. For construction, falls and other mishaps involving the tools used to scale heights tend to be the top causes of injury.
Other top concerns include injuries from the debris produced during operations like demolition, sanding, or cutting materials. Project managers and supervisors concerned about safety oversight need to be vigilant to stay on top of safety rule compliance. Of course, it does not hurt to have tools like jobsite cameras that allow for later review either.
When it comes to scaffolding safety rules, the most important one is to remain under the maximum load rating for your equipment. If the scaffolding in your gear loadout is not rated for the job, it’s time to invest in more rugged equipment so everyone on your job site is protected.
Otherwise, non-slip boots and tool lanyards are vital to prevent mishaps that could cause on-site injuries.
Protecting the Head and Eyes
PPE Eye protection is a part of basic safety for just about every hands-on job, but in construction, it needs to go further than standard safety glasses. Many eye hazards at job sites are also full face and head hazards as well.
That is why you need a variety of tools that suit each worker’s role and the current job.
- Hard hats
- Full face shields
- Wraparound safety goggles
- Traditional safety glasses
- Neck and shoulder shields as needed
The reason for the wide range of equipment is simple. You need the coverage for the job, and you need to assess the hazards task by task. Welding and breaking concrete both require head and face protection, just not the same kind.
Working on Ladders
Construction site safety rules and regulations for ladders are very similar to those for scaffolding, which should be no surprise.
Safety harnesses and fall prevention tools are necessities to keep your workers secure on tall structures. Workers will also use tool belts to ensure they have both hands free for balancing and working.
Another important item to consider is weight rating for equipment such as lanyards and non-skid boots.
Spotting and Communicating Hazards
Hazard spotting is not like most other safety considerations. While simple safety involves PPE, correct handling of tools and materials, and alertness, spotting for others can be a full-time job on its own.
Potential hazards change from day to day according to the tasks and stage of construction the job is on, and project management needs to be prepared to not only look out for those hazards but to communicate them to the potentially affected workers.
Spotters have traditionally been limited to what human eyes can process at a distance, but that is not the case any longer.
Cameras like the SiteWatch PRO2 offer you the chance to watch your job site from multiple angles and to get up close without actually hovering over your people.
You just need to add solid radio communication processes for hazard warnings to get a powerful system for real-time hazard management.
From solvents to concrete, the substances you use to get the work done have their own risks and hazards. Even non-toxic items can pose a safety risk if not handled correctly. Material handling issues range from marked hazards using OSHA MSDS templates to moving heavy supplies like steel and stone.
Basic safety procedures differ from one material to the next, but the core values that inform them are the same.
- Only personnel trained and qualified in the movement or use of materials can handle them
- All proper PPE as documented on the MSDS needs to be worn
- Site safety and hazard management protocols need to accommodate extra oversight for potentially hazardous applications
Safety during the working day is only one part of safe material handling. Securing your supplies and keeping them safe from theft is also important because potential thieves could hurt themselves or others, and that is in addition to the losses you incur if they are stolen. 24/7 oversight is a must under those circumstances, so the right security equipment is vital.
OSHA and Construction Safety
Most construction site safety rules and regulations have been built around the requirements imposed on the industry by OSHA, with specific requirements outlined for each potential hazard commonly found in the industry.
Companies whose safety and oversight processes fall short of those requirements risk fines and other penalties in addition to any civil liability incurred because of accidents. That makes proper safety procedures a matter of protecting your bottom line as much as protecting your people.
The Bureau of Labor Statistics documented 1,102 fatal incidents in the private construction industry in 2019. This accounts for a little over 20% of the total number of workplace fatalities in the U.S. that year.
While OSHA regulations are important, you should also consider them the bare minimum, because properly mitigating the risks involved in the industry means being proactive in ways that go beyond those basic regulatory requirements.
Staying Proactive About Safety
If you are looking to get ahead of safety issues, it is a good idea to brainstorm options with your insurance provider in addition to following up on regulatory compliance.
Most providers have resources to help minimize your risks, and they are quick to suggest cost-effective options like site cameras and other labor-saving safety and security measures.