How to Keep Your Construction Site Safe
Keeping your employees safe is not just a legal responsibility — it’s a moral obligation you have to the people who keep your business running strong every day. It’s also just good business, as accidents can lead to significant costs and downtime. By making prevention a priority, you can proactively control rising injury and incident costs, overall resulting in a healthier, more productive workplace.
Safety measures in the workplace are mandated by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA). Because of this, developing and implementing safety training programs that meet or exceed OSHA standards is critical for accident prevention.
Recognizing safety hazards on the job site is the first step you can take to improve safety for the construction workers and other members of your team. Knowing how to properly use construction equipment and when to use personal protective equipment on construction sites are some of the ways you can foster a culture of safety at your worksites.
Implementing these safety rules at your construction site can protect workers, benefiting everyone involved.
Personal protective equipment (PPE) became a common term during the pandemic, as nurses and other healthcare workers highlighted the importance of properly gearing up for work. But PPE has long been a staple of the construction industry.
Some common pieces of PPE that are crucial for safety on construction sites include:
- Head, hand and eye protection
- High-visibility clothing
- Sturdy footwear
- Hearing protection
- Long pants
- Other job-specific PPE, such as chemical splash goggles and face shields
Ensure your workers understand when PPE is required and what PPE is needed, and have a plan in the event that someone shows up to work without a vital piece of gear. Regularly monitor your worksites for proper PPE usage and intervene with team members who aren’t complying with the rules.
Prominent and clear signage throughout the job site will help not only your team, but anyone else who sets foot on the site, to understand how to stay safe.
Signs that should be posted at all entrances and exits, as well as high-traffic areas, include:
Post enough signs that your workers and other people on the job site will see them multiple times a day.
Never assume everyone on the job understands everything about the tools they are operating.
Even the most experienced workers can develop bad habits and safety shortcuts over time, so it’s important to work with your crew to ensure each of them is up to date on the construction equipment, tools and general safety expectations of your job site.
Keep Worksite Clean and Organized
If there’s one thing a construction site generates quickly, it’s debris. Nails, screws, wood chips, metal and other scraps can pile up in no time.
It’s critical to keep all access points and common pathways clear of these items. By utilizing trash containers and chutes — and keeping them clean — you’re helping create a much safer environment for your construction team.
If you do notice that debris is piling up in a particular area often, that may mean you need to add another trash container. Regularly monitor your job sites for debris piles and add containers or increase collection efforts as necessary.
Properly Use and Store Equipment
As mentioned above, training workers on how to properly use their tools and other equipment is paramount to ensuring worksite safety. But it’s just as important to store these tools properly.
A loose cord, for example, can quickly become a tripping hazard, or a power tool accidentally left plugged in at the end of a shift can lead to disaster.
Develop and strictly implement post-use protocols for all construction equipment. Wherever possible, clearly label receptacles where specific items should be stored when they’re not in use. This can help ensure things are put away at the end of the day with a quick visual check.
Have an Emergency Plan
Does your team have a written plan that covers disasters, fires, hazardous materials spills or other incidents? Your plan should not only cover mitigation, prevention and preparedness, but also response and recovery so you can safely return to work after an event.
Make your plan clear to all employees and review it with them periodically.
Report Issues Immediately
Some of the most common OSHA violations found on construction sites include:
- Fall protection violations
- Hazard communications
- Problems with scaffolding
- Incorrect or absent PPE usage
- Lockout/tagout issues
Your team should clearly understand how to report any violations they see immediately. Make it clear that they will not face any consequences for reporting; promptly reporting safety hazards is for the protection of everyone on the job site.