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Preventing occupational accidents: safety practices in the construction sector

Author: Cynthia Madison
by Cynthia Madison
Posted: May 28, 2018
construction site

The main challenges faced by the construction industry refer to stagnant productivity levels, technology adoption, inadequate planning, labor shortages and high insurance costs. In comparison with agriculture and manufacturing, this sector has not experienced increased productivity over the past decades, which inevitably becomes a prominent concern since constructions projects are more and more complex. Of course, many factors can lead to such a negative consequence including poor scheduling, wasted time, the lack of communication and collaboration between parties involved in every project and probably the most obvious one – labor shortage. The reality is that construction firms struggle to complete these complex projects with few workers because they encounter difficulties finding people with the required knowledge, skill and experience. Another major issue in the construction industry focuses on worker safety. Undoubtedly, the construction sector represents the most dangerous fieldwork. Whether we are talking about injuries or illnesses, the number of "victims" has remained constant throughout time.

Common risks and hazards faced by construction workers

The lack of safety training definitely represents a cause leading to numerous construction site accidents, which involve electrocutions, slips and trips, falls and heights. Even though unfortunate incidents usually happen by chance, the probability suddenly increases when referring to the construction industry. This is because workers must handle bulky loads at various heights in a disturbing environment with loud and repetitive noise, lift and move around heavy materials, which release asbestos fibers in the air when damaged, touch electrical live parts, either directly or indirectly, not to mention the prolonged exposure to huge amounts of dust. Other risks and hazards faced by people working on construction sites involve hand arm vibration syndrome, collapsing trenches, airborne materials and excessive heat. In order to reduce or prevent potential accidents, business owners should invest more financial resources in proper machinery maintenance and protection equipment, but also time in developing programs that provide useful safety information and reminders to all employees. Written safety policies can also reduce such unfortunate events in the workplace.

Obligations and responsibilities employers must fulfill

Workers are not the only ones spending time on the construction site. When initiating a project, various parties including employers and individual contractors must collaborate and register the progress. In this case, the person with maximum control has the obligation and the responsibility to inform everyone regarding the potential risks, safety instructions and procedures related to first aid and even evacuation, organize movement, coordinate activities, assess work circumstances and ensure a neat site. Keeping a construction site safe is not impossible, but it requires using advanced technology, such as reversing cameras and modern equipment and following a few simple steps like providing proper safety training, using clear signage throughout the construction site, establishing entry and exit points for vehicle access, storing chemicals carefully to minimize pollution, asphyxiation and explosions, minimizing the risk of falling objects and leaving the site in case of natural disasters or other emergency circumstances. Obviously, the employer must comply with these rules and regulations or, friendlier stated, pieces of advice.

Instruction employees must follow when working on site

On the other hand, the employer does not have maximum control over every single detail. For this reason, workers also have to follow certain instructions imposed by the employer in order to ensure their own protection. Indeed, the employer has to focus on risk assessment and management, but the employee has to wear the protective equipment at all times, never remove protective components from machinery, make sure that their operations do not create a potential hazard for other workers on the constructions site, checking the rigs, harnesses and ladders attentively before use, undergo required training before handling asbestos demolition and wear a photo ID with the tax number. Fortunately, each problem has a solution. For instance, Traffic Angel is willing to cater for construction firms, regardless of their size, solutions including bespoke systems, technical support, consultation and installation of modern devices meant to ensure safety in the workplace, especially when handling heavy machinery.

Preventing occupational accidents is possible, but it requires time and money

The main idea is that employers are not alone in this common situation. The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) and Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) are two organizations that provide guidance in order to help construction firms keep a safe workplace. This means that employers or employees have no excuse to overlook the required safety practices meant to reduce and prevent occupational accidents, sometimes leading to death. Keeping that in mind, the following question inevitably arises: are business owners activating in the construction industry willing to invest money and time in order to purchase safety systems and advanced devices sold by different companies out there and organize meetings or programs to explain workers the risks and the solutions for avoiding deaths on the construction sites?

About the Author

Cynthia Madison is a young blogger and economics and marketing graduate. She writes about home, lifestyle and family topics and is a senior contributor to popular niche publications.

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Author: Cynthia Madison
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Cynthia Madison

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United States

Member since: Jun 30, 2017
Published articles: 46

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