When you think about construction, what kind of words spring to mind? The chances are, ‘safe’ isn’t one of them. It can be regarded as a dangerous occupation, yet if the necessary precautions are made, construction can be very safe and enjoyable.
Construction workers play a very important role in modern society, providing safe buildings, bridges and many other assets, therefore they need to pay special attention to the health and safety of themselves and their colleagues.
Here are our five main tips to follow if you are a construction worker looking for harmony in the workplace:
- First step: First Aid
Nobody expects you to carry a first aid kit in your tool belt, but it is important for both the site supervisor and contractor to ensure that first aid is accessible. To stop minor injuries worsening and to avoid chance of infection, a basic first aid for minor burns, cuts and falls should be available on site. If medical assistance can be provided immediately, you can return to work as soon as possible – what more could you wish for? Seriously though, if first aid supplies are not around, inform your supervisor immediately.
- Double-check work areas
You should never work on an incomplete scaffold which does not have a strong platform base, and should not hesitate to raise concerns about it and check whether the scaffold has been inspected by a professional. The same applies to ladders, which are essential to the construction site but can be potentially dangerous – if it’s wobbly, avoid it. A ladder worthy of use will be of proper strength, and of a height that always keeps it at least one metre above the landing. If the top and bottom of the ladder are not secured properly, make sure someone can manually keep it in place to prevent anyone falling from height.
- Wear the right kit
Employers should provide workers with the correct protective gear and clothing, such as protective eyewear, earplugs/muffs for noisy areas, and protective gloves for when dealing with toxic chemicals. While working at height, you need a sturdy fall harness which is secured to a strong anchorage point. If it’s dark or there are lots of heavy vehicles moving around, you should wear highly visible clothing to make sure you can be seen. If you are a worker and need protective gear or anti-slip footwear, demand them from your employer. Finally, dress for the actual climate, not the climate you want it to be.
- Take care with electricity and equipment
Apart from the age-old advice of bend your knees as you lift heavy equipment, there are other precautions that need to be addressed when working with electrical installations and weights. You should ensure that there is no wear and tear in the machines, and follow the safety precautions listed on the equipment. Can’t find it? Just ask! Plugged-in portable devices need to be protected with grounded casing and an earth leakage circuit breaker, and to point out the obvious, the electrical tools should never come into contact with water.
- Prevent fires
With machinery being combined with combustible chemicals and welding operations, there is certainly a possibility of fire on a construction site – if measures are not taken to prevent it. Open flames should be kept away from construction sites because of the presence of flammable materials (especially on oil rig sites). You should find out and remember where the fire escapes and fire extinguishers are, and make sure you are given full training in how to use the emergency equipment.
The most important thing for any employee is to feel comfortable and safe in the workplace, so vigilance and self-awareness is vital on construction sites.