Before starting a construction project, supervisors need to ensure their health and safety program is in place and that everyone follows it. Safety isn't something you only do on the construction site. The companies with the highest safety records have built a company culture around safety. They don't wait until the project starts to implement safety protocols. Safety must be woven into the entire construction company's processes long before breaking ground.
More than one-third of deaths in construction are the result of falls. Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) says these deaths are preventable. Over half of the slips, trips, and falls in the workplace are due to human factors according to a BLR survey of safety professionals. The other two biggest causes are housekeeping issues and wet or slippery surfaces.
The administration has partnered with the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health and National Occupational Research Agenda (NORA) — Construction Sector to introduce a Fall Prevention Campaign.
One of the first pieces of advice it gives is to "plan ahead to get the job done safely." This includes determining how the job will be done, what tasks are planned, and what safety equipment to use for each task.
Safety does not add to costs. The campaign recommends including personal protective equipment (PPE) and other safety equipment in estimating the cost of a project. It's also critical for employees to have the right equipment for the task. Not all ladders are equal. The same goes for scaffolds and safety gear.
Not prioritizing safety will add far more costs than safety equipment. National Safety Council says the average work-related, medically consulted injury cost a company $42,000 in 2019. In the same year, the total cost of work injuries was $171 billion, up from 2017 by $10 billion.
Injuries also lower morale, delay the project, and affect customer service. All of these can hurt the bottom line. Customers will not be happy to learn a project falls behind. The company could potentially pay a penalty or the reputation takes a hit. An unhappy customer may tell others not to do business with the company or talk about it publicly.
Construction companies can boost safety by taking the following safety precautions to maximize safety and security on a construction project.
If you have a construction site security strategy, it should have a checklist of processes and procedures for securing the construction site and ensuring its safety. Every project will be different as they have different tasks. Keeping an exhaustive list of tasks and safety for each one will help you ensure you don't miss a step.
Add the following to the construction site security and safety plan:
It's also useful to have seasonal procedures. Winter has different requirements for preparing the equipment than summer. Of course, some equipment will need winterization. Maintain a list of scenarios that can occur each season or when shut down for more than a weekend.
Companies that go longer without a workplace incident have one thing in common. They hold safety training regularly. Training is also one of the most effective ways to reduce risk. This includes training on construction site processes, proper equipment usage, and discussing what equipment and gear to use for which activity.
It's also valuable to cover "see something, say something" in the training to encourage employees to report a problem. Safety and security are critical. Employees are the best resource for spotting potential problems and hazards. Still, some are afraid to say something in fear of retaliation. Therefore, you want to have an easy way for reporting problems anonymously.
Training needs to appear in the security and safety strategy along with the topics and frequency of conducting the training. For instance, all new employees need to undergo safety training on day one. The same goes for every new project and worksite.
Workers need to know how to correctly use PPE, equipment, and tools. You'll need training for hotter weather and again for when cold weather arrives. As the weather turns cooler, workers will need to know about the signs of hypothermia and illness. The sooner they catch it, the faster their recovery.
Winter has different PPE requirements and equipment preparation processes. For instance, some equipment or tools may need to be warmed up prior to use. While it delays getting started, prepping the equipment properly minimizes damage and extends its life. In the long run, it saves money and protects workers.
It's too easy to forget to do things. That's why regular training is critical. A study has found that companies conducting training on a regular basis have the fewest work injuries.
OSHA has a personal protective equipment guide. It lists the standards, contains a reference on proper PPE selection and use, discusses the responsibility of paying for PPE, and points to standards specific to construction.
Price should not be a factor in choosing the right PPE. It's one of the best investments construction companies can make. Cheap PPE may malfunction and that's not a risk worth taking. Not only do companies with the lowest rate of injuries conduct training but also, they invest in the right PPE. The right gear for the right season leads to fewer construction site injuries, saves money, and minimizes lost work days.
Electrocution is one of OSHA's Focus Four Hazards. Almost 60 percent of the causes of fatalities come from one of these four hazards. Almost 9 percent of construction deaths occur due to electrical hazards. OSHA's electrical in construction reference details the regulations, hazard recognition and avoidance, possible solutions, and resources.
They offer an Outreach Training Program that includes two classes. The 10-hour class provides workers with awareness of common job-related safety and health hazards. The 30-hour class targets supervisors and workers with safety responsibilities.
Electrical systems and lighting can also be the cause of construction fires. This is due to incorrectly installed, maintained, or used electrical systems. All permanent and temporary electrical systems and lighting need to undergo regular inspection and maintenance. It must be done by a licensed electrician. They need to install electrical equipment and lighting that follows National Electric Code Standards.
Another problem is when multiple trades work in an area, they can overload the circuits. They'll use many extension cords on the construction site and some could be damaged. Add this to your processes to ensure this doesn't happen. Be aware that every state has its own electrician licensing rules. So, look up your state's requirements and abide by them.
You can do all the right things and have everything fall apart or something breaks with one wrong action on a worker's part. New hazards show up every day. Someone parks large equipment in an unsafe spot. The rain creates a hole that can turn into a fall hazard.
The most effective way to keep an eye on the property is with remote video surveillance. When it comes to video cameras, most think of them as a security solution. They don't realize that it's a valuable health and safety tool. Video cameras can verify workers follow proper procedures in preparing and using the equipment. Monitoring the cameras can identify holes and other fall hazards.
Proactive video surveillance pairs video analytics and trained monitoring operators. The combination of the analytics with human monitoring operators makes it possible to notice things quickly and alert the site supervisor before they become problems. It puts eyes on the entire site.
Here’s how the video analytics work: The security company enters many scenarios in video surveillance's artificial intelligence. The scenarios tell the security cameras how to analyze what it sees and what to do when a certain scenario happens.
Whenever the technology identifies a potential match on one of its programmed scenarios, it alerts the monitoring operator who confirms it and responds. How the operator acts will depend on the situation.
For example, if there are trespassers, the operator can issue an audio warning through an on-site speaker. If they don't leave, then the operator can call law enforcement.
Video surveillance can do more than monitor for safety and security issues. It can also watch for leaks and floods. The earlier the problem is caught, the less damage there will be. Security cameras make it possible to watch the entire property simultaneously.
The monitoring operator isn't on your property. This is a huge advantage as their lives are never at risk and no one from the construction site can track them to plan internal theft. With video surveillance, you'll help mitigate your health and safety risks while maximizing security.
It saves significant time and money as it'll help prevent injuries, decrease liability, and deter crime. The video camera system records everything. You'll have all the proof you need as well as potential footage to use in training.
For more on this topic, pick up the construction security and safety best practices guide. This detailed construction security guide discusses industry challenges and offers solutions. If you'd like to know more about construction site safety, feel free to contact us.