Safety measures against construction site hazards is paramount to protect workers, ensure the completion of your project and safeguard your reputation.
It is vital that all workers and managers are active in identifying hazards on a construction site.
Here are the 8 common construction site hazards and how to minimise each one’s risks.
Between 2003–13, 401 workers died on construction sites in Australia, the majority being falls from a height, one of the most common construction site hazards.
Hard hats, harnesses and safety nets will reduce the effects of falls. Other safety measures include appropriate signage, marking protuding objects, ensuring above-ground work areas are stable and installing guardrails on elevated platforms.
2 Excavations and trenches
Trenches and below-ground excavations can become unstable without warning, leading to buried and suffocated workers.
Workers excavating deeper than 2 metres need to wear PPE. Clearly marked exits and sloping and benching measures applied to the walls are mandatory. If unsure, check with the OHSA.
3 Ladders and scaffolding
Scaffolding and ladders are some of the most common building site hazards.
Inspect them, preferably before use, for security and stability and equip them with guardrails, toeboards and midboards, and confirm they are more than 3 metres away from power lines. Make sure that workers, wearing hard hats at all times, don’t go over structural weight limits.
4 Electrical hazards
Unlike other common hazards in construction sites, electrical accidents are usually fatal, due to contact with electrical machinery and equipment and power cables (overhead and underground).
Minimise electrical accidents by providing properly rated extension cords; workers must never use damaged cords. If the site has live wiring, set up a Lockout-Tagout system, ensuring that no work takes place until power to the site has been shut off. Naturally, check that every person carrying out electrical work is qualified.
5 Cranes and forklifts
When identifying hazards on a construction site, cranes and forklifts are the usual equipment vehicles that come to mind. A crane’s load hitting a worker and contact with powerlines can cause electrocution. The OHSA reports 95,000 workers a year injured by forklifts; at least 100 of these are fatal.
Cranes and forklifts must only be operated by appropriately certified workers. All machinery should be frequently maintained, the surrounding work environment inspected and work orders constantly reviewed.
The swing radius for cranes should be barricaded and loads prevented from swinging over any human being. Forklift operators should always wear seatbelts, take special care when driving in slippery areas and with elevated loads.
6 Repetitive motion
Hand-held power tools can cause Hand Arm Vibration Syndrome (HAVS) with prolonged use. HAVS causes permanent debilitation in joints, nerves and blood vessels. This prevents workers from doing fine work, especially in winter when cold temperatures cause painful attacks in the fingers.
Allow workers to rotate jobs and have regular breaks; this uses different muscle groups, preventing strain to just one area. Supply your workers with appropriate protection and make sure that vibrating tools are well maintained.
7 Noise exposure
One of the common construction site hazards is subtle but stealthy. Construction sites are noisy and hearing loss is irreparable.
Supply good quality hearing protection. Earplugs are a quick fix but can damage the hearing canal. Noise-cancelling earmuffs are the best option.
8 Asbestos and other airborne particles
One of the most damaging common hazards in construction site operations is barely visible. Dust is the fine, often toxic by-product of construction materials and fibres, asbestos being probably the most famous. Breathing these in can cause irreversible and often fatal lungs diseases.
Where there is asbestos on site, inform all workers and provide asbestos awareness training. Use wet cleaning methods or a vacuum with a HEPA filter for asbestos debris. PPE should always be worn when working with dust-producing materials. Perform air monitoring, keep records and offer respiratory protection if exposure limits are exceeded.
This list of hazards on a construction site will prevent most common construction site hazards.
If you need workers who are trained in the latest preventative hazard measures, call Fast Labour Hire today.