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Published On: Fri, Jun 5th, 2015

7 Smart Steps for Construction Site Safety

There are about 10 million construction workers in the U.S. alone. Of those, 4,909 were killed on the job in 2011. It gets worse as the trend line for those deaths isn’t dropping quickly. In fact, each year, there are 4,500 injuries alone, and about 50 of those people die as a result of those injuries. If the correct safety precautions are taken, these statistics can be changed. If you run a construction company, it’s time to get serious about safety. Here’s how.

Enforce Safety Protocols For Getting On And Off Equipment

According to this slip and fall lawyer, construction sites can be very dangerous places, with slip and fall accidents being some of the most common injuries. Of those slip and falls, the number one cause of injury to equipment operators, forklift drivers, and truck drivers is getting on and off the equipment itself.

Dirty boots, a lack of safety gloves, and low resistance surfaces are a recipe for disaster. Boots that are designed to be non-slip should be worn at all times, and employees must be encouraged to take all necessary safety precautions.

Next, high grip gloves – these things will safe employees’ lives by giving them a way to hang onto equipment rails when it’s raining out, or when mud and debris makes it impractical or impossible to hold on bare-handed.

Finally, all equipment should come with standard non-slip surfaces for footholds and steps. When this material wears down, it should be replaced and upgraded.

Ladders are another dangerous piece of equipment, particularly if the worker is using them in less than ideal weather conditions. But, even on a bright, sunny, day, a worker can be injured from slipping off the rungs.

All extension ladders should be tied off at the top, middle, and lower sections to prevent movement, and a second person should be available as a spotter.

Workers should not be trying to carry materials up the ladder as this creates an unsafe condition. Instead, a host should be devised at the top of the building to move materials. A ratio of 4 to 1 should be maintained when it comes to the distance of the ladder’s base to the foundation.

Divide the length of the structure from the ground to the top support area by four. Do not include the 3-foot extension that must exist beyond the roof line. The resulting number is the number of feet away from the building the base of the ladder should be to maximize the stability of the ladder.

photo/MSGT JAMES M. BOWMAN, USAF

photo/MSGT JAMES M. BOWMAN, USAF

Devise New Protocols For Loading and Unloading Equipment Properly

Loading and unloading equipment on level ground seems safe, but there’s a significant risk of machine rollover. All ramps used for loading and unloading should be centered and secure, and the equipment being loaded or unloaded should be straight and centered on the ramps.

Spotters should be used for guidance. Finally, workers should make sure that any equipment is at a “zero energy state” when stowed. This eliminates the possibility of transmission gears pushing the equipment, or the equipment unexpectedly rolling when an emergency brake is released.

Spend More Money On Employee Safety Training

Don’t skimp on safety training. It always pays off in the end. If your safety training needs updating, update it as soon as you can. Spend time devising meaningful safety classes, appoint competent persons to monitor safety on the job, and offer periodic review classes.

Provide Better Safety Equipment and Processes

Always be looking for ways to improve your safety equipment. Sometimes, it can be a simple upgrade like providing increased resistance or traction strips on equipment. Other times it might be a small change in protocol that alters how jobs are done to make them safer.

Maintain Your Scaffolding

OSHA requires that all scaffolding equipment be inspected at routine intervals. If you haven’t inspected yours, or if you feel that this sort of thing has been pushed to the wayside, now is the time to fix that.

Ladder access, guard rail heights, and cable safety are of paramount importance when it comes to these rigs.

If any equipment fails a safety inspection, a “danger” tag must be placed on the machine to warn workers. From a common-sense perspective, this makes good business sense too. An injured or dead worker is not a good worker – it’s not a worker at all. It’s also expensive because preventable injuries and deaths are what prompt negligence lawsuits, which almost always end badly for the employer.

No one wants to see an employee injured or hurt. If you think that there is even a minute risk that your employees are working on unsafe equipment, take time to correct the situation immediately.

Improve Communications

Communication is essential for safety. While it might not seem intuitive to hold communications classes on a job site, even construction workers should have excellent communications skills when working around heavy machinery. It’s one of a few proven methods of reducing accidents where more than one person is involved in the incident.

Have A Third Party Audit Your Processes

This is a simple step that practically guarantees you’re not missing anything. Periodically, have a third party come in and audit your safety processes.

Guest Author :

Attorney Gabriel Levin is known as a tenacious fighter who protects his clients interests as though they were his own; he has tried hundreds of cases and handled a large variety of civil matters, from minor injuries to the catastrophic. He enjoys sharing his insights online.

About the Author

- Outside contributors to the Dispatch are always welcome to offer their unique voices, contradictory opinions or presentation of information not included on the site.

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