The construction industry is prone to hazardous situations. These include physical danger to employees due to moving equipment, working at heights, and a constantly changing workplace, among other factors. Another, lesser-known construction hazard is pollution, which negatively affects the health of employees, site visitors, and nearby residents.
The following paragraphs touch on the primary health and safety concerns on and around construction sites.
Working at Heights
Construction projects require employees to work at heights. These heights vary from one-story scaffolds to working platforms on skyscrapers, all of which are potentially dangerous. Proper training and the use of fall arrest equipment is essential to ensure worker safety. Dropped objects should be designed out using tools such as lanyards, tethered tools, dropped object prevention mats and dropped object prevention work trays. It can also include items such as guard rails, self-closing gates, and cable protection equipment and secondary retention methods such as safety nets.
Various types of large machinery, such as cranes, ready-mixed concrete trucks, tractors, and digger-loaders, are used on construction sites. These move about and could fatally injure any person that gets in the way. The building material is also moved around until it is placed in its final position, adding to the risk. When crew members are not adequately trained and aware of these hazards, they can quickly get in the way and suffer severe injuries.
Slipping, Tripping, Falling
Building materials include sand, stone, gravel, cement, and water. When a staff member isn’t careful, they could easily slip and fall on any of these. Demarcation lines and reinforcement steel are also abundant on most sites, adding to the hazard. To mitigate this hazard, confine loose materials to specific areas on-site, and clean up spills immediately.
Construction machinery is noisy – this is unlikely to change any time soon. For this reason, hearing protection should be worn on site. Failing to do so could lead to long-term hearing loss for staff members and visitors.
Hand Arm Vibration Syndrome
This syndrome affects employees and contractors that operate a hand-held vibrating machinery. Prolonged use of this vibrating equipment could cause damage to the nerves and muscles in their hands and arms. As this is often the most practical tool for compacting concrete, personnel must receive proper training on its use and the accompanying risks. Employees and contractors should not be allowed to use this equipment for prolonged periods.
Construction materials and equipment is heavy, employees and contractors must often physically carry or shift these from one place to another. Employees and contractors are at risk of hurting their backs. Proper training in manual lifting and safe work practices is essential to prevent back injuries. Employees and contractors also risk trapping their hands or feet under heavy equipment – take care to ensure that these risks are designed out and proper PPE equipment is provided based on a workplace hazard review.
There is a myriad of risks on a construction site, such as; working at height, moving objects, slips trips and falls, noise, respiratory and environmental risk. With careful planning, training, and effective preventative measures, most of these risks can be eliminated or at least mitigated to an acceptable level.