Construction Industry: Maintaining a Safer Work Environment
According to the Occupational Safety & Health Organization (OSHA), 6.5 million people work at over 250,000 construction sites on a daily basis in the U.S. and the fatality rate for injured workers in this industry is higher than the national average for all industries. Let’s examine some of the hazards involved and the viable solutions to maintaining a safer workplace in the construction industry. You can pass these along to your construction insurance clients:
Hazards include improperly used or erected scaffolds, resulting in falls.
- Erect on solid footing, ensure it is rigid and sufficient to carry up to four times the maximum intended load, including its own weight.
- Do not support with concrete blocks, loose bricks, or other unstable objects.
- Scaffold must be equipped with guardrails, midrails and toeboards.
- Make sure planks that are walked on are tight and secure.
- Any accessories, such as screws, brackets, trusses, etc. should be inspected and replaced if damaged or weakened.
- Never construct scaffolding near power lines.
- Any ropes used in the performance of work should be inspected for fraying or damage, and never used near any sources of extreme heat.
- Inspections should be performed routinely, at designated intervals, to insure that the scaffolding has not become compromised in any way.
Ladders and Stairways
Hazards include slips, trips, and falls that often lead to serious injuries.
- Always use the correct ladder for the situation.
- All ladders should be inspected for defects prior to use.
- Never load ladder beyond the specified rated capacity.
- Avoid using ladders with metallic components near electrical power lines or other sources of electricity that may cause massive shock.
- Make sure all stairwells are free of debris, materials, and other dangerous objects.
- If spills occur, make sure that stairs are not slippery. Immediately clean up any spills and alert others of the possible danger.
- Handrails must be in place wherever they are required.
Serious injuries may occur as a result to a blow to the head from a falling object, or one that is merely swung in the direction of an unsuspecting worker.
- All workers on a job site must wear protective hard hats whenever there is a potential for falling objects, or accidentally being struck in the head with heavy objects or electrical hazards.
Chemicals used on site can lead to burns and respiratory problems, as well as fires and explosions.
- A Material Safety Data Sheet (MSDS) should be available to all workers so they may read about the dangers and consequences associated with the materials in use.
- Proper training is also required in order for workers to understand the issues in regards to hazardous materials in use.
- Spill clean-up kits and a spill control plan should be readily available and implemented.
- A supply of protective equipment (gloves, goggles, etc.) should be provided and its use enforced.
- Store all chemicals safely and securely.
In addition, there are many equipment safety concerns that should be discussed and measures taken to insure the safety of the operators and workers who come into contact with any machinery used on site. By providing a safe work environment we can all lower the risk of serious injury and reduce the risk of fatalities.