A construction site is among the most dangerous of places to work. They are filled with potential hazards, ranging from those which might cause a minor irritation to those which might cause death. One of the main duties of the construction site company is to recognise these hazards and to minimise the dangers they pose. Similarly, the workers themselves have a duty to be aware of the dangers and to take the appropriate action to ensure that they are kept safe while working.
But what should this action consist of? And what hazards, exactly, are we talking about? Let’s take a look through some of the more common hazards and suggest ways in which these problems might be avoided.
The number one cause of fatalities on construction sites is height. Moreover, height is also responsible for the more serious injuries which can result in lost working hours and staff. The worst accidents are those in which workers fall from a height. These accidents are often caused by slipping and tripping, or by using unsecured ladders and scaffolding.
There are a number of reasons why scaffolding might fail. Parts might become damaged, or may be incorrectly installed, or the scaffolding might be struck be a sudden impact.
Construction projects which involve scaffolding should ensure that the scaffolding is erected in compliance with the law. In the UK, this means that it should be inspected by a competent person shortly after being built and every week thereafter.
Height can also cause problems for people walking around below – especially if there’s a danger that objects might fall. It is this danger that has prompted the almost-universal adoption of the hard hat – a technology which has saved more lives on site than perhaps any other.
As well as mandating that workers wear protective headgear, site operators should also enforce strict rules against leaving hazardous objects in areas where they might fall. If a brick or a bag of cement falls off a two-storey building, then an injury will probably occur. Workers should therefore be trained in how to identify and avoid these hazards before they become an issue.
One of the most dangerous activities on a construction site involves digging a trench. Trenches are dangerous things – particularly deep trenches, made from wet soil. They have a nasty habit of collapsing and unleashing tons of material into the gap in a matter of seconds. This danger is all the more acute when large quantities of material are piled near the edge of the trench – as, indeed, they so often are.
Cave-ins are responsible for a large number of accidents on construction sites. Many of them are serious; others are fatal. Here’s a short demonstration of the sort of thing we’re talking about. Fortunately, there are ways of minimising this danger. Many construction projects no longer require that a trench be dug and technologies have been developed which allow the trench to be stabilised without anyone entering it. By using the most recent health-and-safety procedures, the chances of an injury can be limited.
Electricity is an inescapable aspect of construction. Construction sites are riddled with power cables, both overhead and underground and so it’s almost inevitable that construction workers will come into contact with them – even if their work is not at all concerned with electricity. This makes is especially important that everyone be taught exactly how to deal with it.
Those who deal with electricity every day have developed a large set of rules in order to deal with it effectively and safely. The most obvious of these rules is to steer clear of any power lines that you aren’t dealing with, but strict procedures on how to handle electrical equipment with respect and care can play a vital role in limiting the dangers.
Construction sites are filled with heavy vehicles and equipment – diggers, pneumatic drills, and cranes: the list is almost endless. These are dangerous tools, designed to manipulate bricks and cement. If not properly respected, they can make short work of flesh and bones. For this reason, they should be treated with the utmost respect.
The best way to minimise the chances of an accident where these things are concerned is through procedure. If there are no procedures in place, it is easy for workers to become over-familiar with their equipment and so ill-prepared for when the inevitable accident does happen. Operators should insist on strict procedures and be prepared to reprimand those who break from them.