A fall. A chemical hazard. An electrical accident.
No one wants an injury on the job, especially as a result of failing to follow protocol.
When it comes to construction, every manager knows that safety comes first. Today, one of every five workplace fatalities is a construction worker.
It’s time to step up our construction safety game. There are common-sense ways to reduce risk. Wear the right equipment. Train your employees on fall protection and wiring methods. Follow best practices when working with scaffolding.
But there’s more that you can do to keep your crew safe.
Summer tends to be the high season for construction injury. Here are five simple tips to help keep this season safer for you and your employees:
1. Eliminate risk during the design process
Even when drafting the original construction project, BIM can be a phenomenal tool to eliminate injury before it happens. A far majority, if not all, of BIM-based software packages have safety planning features, including tools for analyzing risks or safety of the project.
2. Plan with safety in mind
Construction management software plays a huge role in minimizing risk. There are four major ways that this kind of software can help construction managers who are sensitive to safety concerns:
- Training Management: Not every project is the same—some carry more risk than others. When training your crew on best safety practices, training management software helps track what safety protocols your employees have learned or have yet to learn.
- Incident reporting: Should there be an incident on the job, many software options make it easy to track dangerous situations. HCSS even has a mobile app so that reporting can happen right on site.
- Root cause analysis: Sometimes injury happens without explanation. Software companies like Predictive Solutions help pare down the possible causes of past injury—and helps managers close gaps in their construction safety protocol.
- Regulatory Reporting: Working for the government has one major consistency: lots of paperwork. Should there be an incident, construction safety software like Intelex makes submitting the right paperwork to the right authorities less anxiety inducing.
3. Practice healthy habits
The average construction worker is 40 years old—the starting point for the Department of Labor to define “older worker.” Of male 40-to-59 year olds, 37.2 percent are obese—the highest obesity age category for men. It’s more than likely that your crew isn’t the healthiest bunch. There are a few steps to make sure everyone can participate in a long day of manual labor.
- Warm up. Many of the most advanced safety programs (and many insurance companies) require that contractors warm up before entering the construction site. Take the time to stretch and get the heart pumping.
- Hydrate. It’s the summer. It will be hot. Dehydration carries a number of risks, including cerebral edema, seizures, and hypovolemic shock. Make sure that water is always available and enforce breaks.
- Provide shade. Overexposure to the sun can result in hyperthermia. No one wants a fatigued, dizzy, nauseous worker on site—it’s dangerous for everyone. Afford your contractors nape protectors, wide-brim hard hats, and sun block.
4. Make sure your crew is visible
Ever hear the excuse “I didn’t see him!” right after an accident? It may not be just an excuse: low visibility is a known problem in the field. To avoid these kinds of injuries, make sure your crew is decked out in the brightest gear available. High-visibility comes before high fashion. Safety comes before the costs involved in buying new attire.
5. Enforce three points of contact
I used to wall climb regularly. One of the most frequently cited safety points was to have at least three points of contact on the wall—else you’re far more likely to fall. The same concept translates to construction. Remember: 34.6 percent of construction-related deaths are from falls.
Make sure that all of your vehicles make it easy to have three points of contact. Ensure that those points of contact—be they steps or handholds—are secure and well-maintained. If you realize that your workers are not following this protocol, hold safety meetings until they do. This is non-negotiable.
This summer, make sure your crew stays safe. What do you do to minimize risk? Leave your answer in the comments below!
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