According to the OSHA, there are over 6.5 million people working in North American construction sites each day. While those workers take a number of extra precautions to protect themselves from workplace injuries, construction site injuries and fatalities are all too common. In fact, a whopping 38,000 injuries are reported each year. There are also a number of facilities, many of which are caused by falling, being by an object, getting caught in-between structures, or being electrocuted. Fortunately, by exercising precaution and utilizing good safety practices residential construction workers can work to prevent or reduce these mishaps.
Avoid Stairway Accidents
Stairs are a constant obstacle for construction workers at residential sites. Countless slips and falls come as a result of abandoned tools, loose debris or water accumulating in the stairwell. Meanwhile, the installation of stair treads and handrails can provide a simple remedy. It is important to quickly resolve any complications to stairways. Moreover, when installing stair treads, check that they cover the entire step and landing.
Avoid Being Struck
The constant flow of vehicles at a construction site make for a unique hazard. Workers positioned on the ground run the risk of being hit by moving vehicles or being pinned between moving and fixed objects. To avoid such a tragedy, workers should wear bright coloured, reflective clothing. High-visibility vests, jackets, and pants can be easily seen during the night and day. At the same time, workers should avoid standing between structures and moving vehicles.
Use Ladders and Scaffolding Safely
Anytime you lift your feet off the ground, you heighten your risk of falling. Since worksites require frequent use of ladders and scaffolding to reach elevated surfaces, it is imperative that workers inspect, test, and appropriately prepare themselves to handle these increased risk areas. Poor safety practices could result in serious injuries, time off the job, or death.
When using ladders at residential construction sites, workers should take the time to inspect them for structural damage, slippery conditions, or worksite environmental concerns. Moreover, obey manufacturer’s recommendations and warnings. The same advice applies to scaffolding, which should be installed on solid, flat ground, away from electrical wires, and never used in rain, high wind, or other treacherous weather conditions.
Protect Your Head
Your head is by far your most important body part. Accordingly, it should be protected at all times. High Visibility hard hats can save you from falling objects, overhead electrical hazards, and accidental collisions with fixed objects. You may need to pair a hard hat with safety glasses or a face shield when necessary.
Don’t Forget the Hands and Feet
Every year, there are an alarming number of hand injuries reported on the job. From minor lacerations to stitches, and torn tendons, hand injuries can be costly and lead to medical absences from work. Fortunately, the proper safety equipment, including rubber lined, insulted, and arm-lengthed gloves, can help workers avoid costly and uncomfortable injuries.
As a rule, feet should also always be properly covered. Steel-toed boots with nonslip, puncture-free rubber soles are perfect for protecting your feet from the painful impact of falling objects, heavy machinery, or perforations caused by sharp debris.
Only Enter a Sound Trench
Trenches, or narrow man-made depressions in the ground, and excavations pose some of the greatest perils of residential construction sites. In particular, collapsed trenches one of the top causes of injuries and fatalities in the construction world. To avoid this type of mishap, no construction worker should enter an unprotected trench. Protective systems include regulated slopes, where the angle is determined by the type of soil, shoring, and shielding. In addition to a protective infrastructure, trenches should contain any easy-to-access point of exit. They should also be inspected prior to entrance, and consideration should be given to weather and environmental conditions.
Don’t forget to practice good safety practices when cleaning, handling, and disposing of work site waste. [In the US], the Department of Labor provides mandatory guidelines on everything from identifying hazards to handing and storing them. Proper handling of potentially harmful chemicals is imperative to both your short and long-term health.
When working at a residential construction site, it is imperative that you take all necessary safety precautions. Preventative action can help minimize the number of workplace injuries and fatalities. While many construction companies have established workplace regulations, managers and employees do not always comply with them. These steps offer a simple, effective strategy for safe residential construction work.
Jessica Kane is a writer for OSHA Campus Online, where you can complete a variety of OSHA training courses 100% online at your convenience.