Construction safety tips: the fundamentals

Construction sites are one of the most dangerous and accident prone working environments with a long list of dangers that workers can face.

As such it is vitally important for operators, construction workers and supervisors to be able to prevent any possible accidents to not only help protect the workers on site but also members of the general public. As with most accidents, those that occur on construction sites are easily preventable when proper action has been taken.

Employers should provide all their workers with the required Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) needed to help protect them from potential dangers on site. Hard hats are in most case a legal necessity to comply with the Personal Protective Equipment Regulations 1992 on sites where there is risk of head injury.

Other very basic accessories like hi-visibility vests are needed on sites where drivers and machine operators need to be alerted to the presence of workers, especially in low light conditions. More specialised jobs on site obviously need more specialised PPE which must also be provided for workers where necessary; from added protection such as harnesses and anti-slip footwear (for those working at great heights), to protective gloves, glasses and ear wear for those using loud machinery that is also likely to produce a lot of debris. All such items can be found at specialist building suppliers Jewson Tools.

When you are dealing with sites and construction areas in or near a public area that has a consistent flow of footfall passing through, you may often find a number of interested spectators watching on whilst you carry out your activities. While this may be irritating, it is of the upmost importance that you watch your language and behaviour. Swearing in front of young, inquisitive children and dancing around shirtless whilst on your lunch break will leave the public with a bad impression of yourself, the company you work for and the construction industry on the whole. There is already a negative association with those working on building sites, so it is extremely important that you do your best to change this image.

Onsite, the most effective way to minimise the risk of accidents is to make sure that staff are properly trained in the basics of construction site safety. Every site is different but by training workers in core areas of hazard perception, such as Machine swing radius, awareness of reversing vehicles and unloading equipment they will have an idea of what to expect and what the correct safety practices that they should follow are.

Drilling the importance of reporting problems on site to supervisors and management about machinery defects and near misses is also very important. Action cannot be taken to fix problems if no one is aware of the problem, the sooner reports are made, the sooner it can be resolved and the less chance there is for an accident to take place.

Whilst it’s essential for any construction project to be properly organised and prepped long before your workers show up on site it’s also important that any areas of potential danger i.e. places littered with hidden obstructions, shouldn’t be interfered with unless otherwise instructed.

It’s pivotal no to disrupt any buried obstructions such as electrical lines, gas pipes or other concealed utility fixtures without prior arrangement, and the same goes for any overhead impediments that may be in the way. Such areas should be clearly marked with the necessary markings, barrier tapes and other signs to ensure your crew are fully aware of which areas they should be working within.

While these points may seem trivial to a more experienced site worker or contractor these simple, fundamental safety tips are often overlooked, which sadly leads to easily avoidable accidents.