The construction industry is a high hazard industry with over 6.5 million workers across the country. The Bureau of Labor Statistics in 2012 reported over 4,000 private industry fatalities and 19.3% of these were in construction. The main causes of worker deaths on construction sites were falls, struck by object, electrocution, and caught-in/between.
All workers have the right to a safe workplace. The Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970 says “To assure safe and healthful working conditions for working men and women; by authorizing enforcement of the standards developed under the Act; by assisting and encouraging the States in their efforts to assure safe and healthful working conditions; by providing for research, information, education, and training in the field of occupational safety and health…”
In order to make construction sites safer, OSHA has the following checklist for employers and workers for your construction site’s safety:
1. OSHA Training
- OSHA Construction Industry Outreach Training is accessible for workers in the recognition, averting and prevention of workplace hazards.
- OSHA 30-Hour Construction Industry Outreach Program is suited for supervisors and workers with some safety responsibility.
2. Eye and Face Protection
- Foreign objects may get into the eye during construction, so it is a must to wear safety glasses or face shields.
- Eye and face protectors should be chosen based on the hazards present on the site.
- Safety glasses or face shields must be put on when there is possible exposure to any electrical hazards or energized electrical systems.
3. Foot Protection
- Work shoes or boots that are slip and puncture resistant must be worn by construction workers.
- Safety-toed footwear is the standard when at work around heavy equipment or falling objects in order to prevent crushed toes.
4. Hand Protection
- Workers must wear the correct type of gloves for the work. They must fit snugly to promote dexterity.
5. Head Protection
- Workers must wear hard hats when they are susceptible to head injuries from falling objects, bumps, and head contact with electrical hazards.
- Inspect hard hats for dents, cracks or deterioration.
- Replace hard hats after a heavy blow or electrical shock.
- Maintain hard hats in good, wearable condition.
- Scaffolds must be fully planked altogether.
- Scaffolds must be set on sound footing and must not be altered.
- Damage to scaffolding compromises its strength and means it should be taken out of service.
- While workers are on scaffolds, they must not be shifted horizontally unless the scaffold is designed to move. Mobile scaffolding should be handled by trained workers only.
- Scaffolds should not be raised or transferred within 10 feet of power lines.
- Scaffolds should only be loaded according to the weight they are designed to support.
7. Electrical Safety
- Do not permit work on new and existing energized (hot) electrical circuits. Work only if power is shut off and grounds are attached.
- Have an effective Lockout/Tag out system in place.
- Replace frayed, damaged, or worn electrical cords or cables.
- Make sure that extension cords include grounding prongs.
- Protect flexible cords and cables from damage by avoiding sharp corners and projections.
- Locate and recognize all overhead electrical power lines.
- Confirm that ladders, scaffolds, equipment or materials are not within 10 feet of electrical power lines.
8. Floor and Wall Openings
- Guard floor openings 12 inches or larger with a secure cover, guardrail, or equivalent.
- Install toe boards on the edges of permanent floor openings.
9. Elevated Surfaces
- Signs are posted, when appropriate, showing the elevated surface load capacity.
- Surfaces elevated more than 48 inches above the floor or ground have standard guardrails.
- A permanent means of entry and exit with handrails is provided to elevated storage and work surfaces.
10. Hazard Communication
- Keep a readily available list of hazardous substances that are used in the work site.
- Maintain a written HAZCOM program covering Material Safety Data Sheets (MSDS), labeling, and employee training.
- Properly label containers of hazardous substances with their identification and hazard warnings.
- Have Material Safety Data Sheets (MSDS) available every time for each use of a hazardous substance.
- Put into place a valuable employee training program for hazardous substances.
Keeping in line with OSHA’s guidelines is guaranteed to make your construction site safer for everyone involved.
Were there any improvements to construction site safety that we missed? Leave your thoughts in the comments below!
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