The construction industry is high risk; ask the men and women who ply their trades and skills every day in environments filled with hazards. Moving equipment, hazardous chemicals, electrical equipment, working from extreme heights -- it all can lead to accidents or injuries.
Construction Safety Week shines a spotlight on the importance of reducing and avoiding accidents and injuries for the men and women who work in this high-risk industry. In honor of Construction Safety Week, we’ve assembled some expert advice and tips on how you can reduce injuries in the workplace.
Have a Safety Program
If you’re an employer in California, you must have an Injury and Illness Prevention Program (IIPP) in place. A Cochrane study found that regulation alone isn’t necessarily effective in reducing non-fatal and fatal injuries in construction workers, but additional strategies such as safety campaigns and drug-free workplace programs do have an effect in reducing injuries in the long-term.
Increase the impact of your IIPP by incorporating regular safety campaigns/ events and a drug-free workplace policy.
Implement Drug Testing Programs
The US Department of Labor has reported that 65% of on-the-job-accidents and 38%- 50% of all workers’ compensation claims are the result of alcohol and drug abuse in the workplace. Drug testing programs provide a powerful deterrent to drug use on the job.
A survey of human resource professionals stated that companies with high workers’ compensation incidence rates reported a 57% improvement in workers’ compensation claims after implementing drug testing programs.
Incorporate a drug free workplace program with your workplace safety plan to reduce unnecessary risks and reduce injuries on the work site.
Wear Personal Protective Equipment
Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) is essential for many jobs on a construction site. Hard hats protect heads from falling or flying objects, safety boots protect toes and feet from being run over or from falling objects, protective eyewear protects eyes from chemicals and flying objects, and so on.
Stay up to date on OSHA requirements for PPE and ensure your employees are trained and encouraged to wear the proper equipment for the jobs they do.
Inspect (and Respect) Tools
Hand tools and power tools can be hazardous on a work site. Be sure to inspect and maintain these tools before use. According to CA State Fund, here are some things to check for when using these tools:
- Hand Tools
- Proper fitting handles without splits, cracks, or tape holding the handle together.
- Metal parts with wear and tear, which can prevent the tool from working properly.
- Power Tools
- Frayed or damaged plugs can be an electrical hazard
- Wet or slick areas when using power tools can cause electrocution
Use Ground Fault Circuit Interrupters (GFCI)
Keep a Clean House
Housekeeping can go a long way in keeping the worksite safer for everyone. According to CCOHS (Canadian Centre for Occupational Health and Safety), poor housekeeping can be a cause of accidents, such as:
- tripping over loose objects on floors, stairs and platforms
- being hit by falling objects
- slipping on greasy, wet or dirty surfaces
- striking against projecting, poorly stacked items or misplaced material
- cutting, puncturing, or tearing the skin of hands or other parts of the body on projecting nails, wire or steel strapping
To avoid these accidents, implement a clean as you go policy for the workplace. Take responsibility for keeping your work area clean and hazards removed or covered whenever possible.
Have a Plan
No matter how much you train your employees and create a culture of safety, accidents can and will happen. That’s why it’s so important to have an emergency plan in place in the event of an accident or injury on the construction site.
- Train all workers and employees on basic first aid and CPR
- Have contact information available for emergency services and management
- Place first aid kits in readily available locations
Every worker should know how to act and what to do in the event of an accident.
Construction Safety Week may be held each year, but safety on the construction site should be emphasized every day. One in five work related fatalities every year occur in the construction industry. By making construction safety a priority, you can keep yourself and your workers safe on the work site and reduce the risk of accidents and injuries.