When it comes down to it, the safety and health of your employees are paramount. No matter the job or the place, every one of your workers should feel safe in their work environment. They should not have to worry about the chance of injury or death while at work.
While this sentiment applies to all types of jobs — from working in an office to regularly working outside — there are certain jobs that require a bit more care than others. Construction, for instance, is a job worked by almost 6.5 million people across 252,000 construction sites in the nation that has a fatal injury rate higher than the national average.
According to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), 21.1 percent of worker fatalities in private industry in 2016 were in construction. That means just over one in five worker deaths from that year belong to construction workers.
It has been found that the leading causes of worker deaths in construction were falls, struck by object, electrocution and caught in/between machinery. These types of incidents accounted for around 63.7 percent of construction worker deaths. And while it is bad enough that workers are losing lives, these numbers do not even touch on the number of injuries that occur on a construction job site.
If one of your employers ends up injured on the job or even worse, dead, you could face a world of legal trouble, especially if you had the power to make the situation safer. You may end up facing a wrongful death suit or a workplace injury suit, both of which can affect you and your company’s well-being and future job prospects.
So, what things can be done to ensure your job site is meeting all necessary safety standards?
To start, you should educate yourself on the most up-to-date safety and health standards. By law, as an employer, you must provide a workplace free from serious recognized hazards and comply with standards, rules, and regulations issued under the OSHA act.
The OSHA act has been in place since 1970 and was designed to ensure safe and healthful working conditions for men and women. Now, this does not mean just knowing what those conditions are;o it means regularly monitoring and enforcing those rules.
On a construction site, the most common cause of injury or death is from falls. There are two main things that tend to contribute to these types of accidents: scaffolding and failure to use fall protection.
According to an OSHA worker series on construction, about 2.3 million workers frequently work on scaffolds. In order for those workers to remain safe while working on scaffolds there are certain standards that should be met and checked regularly.
Scaffolds are required to be rigid and able to carry its weight plus for times the maximum extended load. It should be erected on solid footing and should not be supported by unstable objects like barrels, loose brick or boxes. In addition, the scaffold should also be equipped with toeboards, midrails, and guardrails.
Scaffolding should be inspected regularly and re-inspected throughout use. They should also never be built, moved, altered or taken down without the proper supervision. Taking care of these steps is just one piece of the puzzle to protects workers from falls.
Stay Safe from Falls
The other is making sure workers correctly use fall protection equipment. Types of equipment are safety net systems or personal fall arrest systems, otherwise known as harnesses. Making sure workers know how to equip and use these devices can go a long way in keeping them safe on the job site.
Of course, there are plenty of other pieces of safety equipment you should make sure your workers use while on the job site. Wearing a hard hat can help protect the head from suffering blows. There is always the potential for objects to fall from above or for workers to hit their head on fixed objects.
Safety vests help keep workers visible, especially in an area frequented by trucks or other mobile equipment. Wearing gloves to handle material can also be important in keeping employees safe from injury or being exposed to dangerous chemicals. And of course, make sure workers wear the proper shoe is definitely important on a job site.
Wearing work boots can protect the foot, toes, and ankle from heavy objects and other everyday hazards on a construction site. The proper work boots are also designed with grips on the soles, making it easier to have sure footing when working in precarious places, such as on a roof.
In addition, eye and face protection is important. Safety glasses or face shields should be worn during work involving welding, cutting, grinding or nailing. They should also be worn when exposed to electrical hazards.
As someone looking to keep your job site safe, you need to make sure your employees abide by these standards. You cannot be afraid to hold them accountable, especially since their safety is at stake.
Creating and utilizing safety checklists is a good way to keep yourself and your employees accountable. It also a great way to go through and make sure your job site is up to par. There are standards in place to govern things like the build and support of a trench, which is important to avoid trench collapses.
It is also important to make sure the proper people are certified to use certain equipment. Crane operators and/or forklift operators must be certified and taught how to properly and safely operate equipment. You should also make sure the equipment being used is in working order and is maintained regularly to ensure its safety.
Finally, a big part of ensuring safety on your job site is by communicating potential hazards. This does not just mean telling people by mouth to be aware of possible hazards. It means hanging the proper signs with warnings about the possible hazards that exist. These signs should be vibrant and stand out so everyone can see them.
The same should be kept in mind when dealing with hazardous chemicals. It is recommended to have and maintain a Material Safety Data Sheet for each hazardous chemical on site and make it accessible to all employees at any time and in any language necessary. Train your employees on the Sheet and about the risks associated with the hazardous chemicals.
As is clearly evident, there is a lot involved when it comes to a job site. Maintaining its safety and the safety of its workers a full-time job and one that should be taken with great care. Never worry about overdoing it — in the end, each worker’s safety and livelihood is in your hands.
This blog is posted on HRZone. Be sure to follow them for more of my human resources-related articles published weekly.