Being secure at work is a basic human right. One of the riskiest places to work is a construction site where heavy machinery and raw materials are handled on a day to day basis. Therefore, it is imperative that the safety of construction workers is given the due importance.
Working at construction sites should be done with utmost care and precaution. It has been estimated that nearly 15,000 construction site injuries, including some fatal ones, happen every year. Working at heights, near deep holes, and adjacent large mobile equipment at construction sites are common activities, which can lead to severe injuries. Employers need to pay heed to all the safety regulations and security of the workers. However, workers also carry an equal responsibility to adhere to various precautions and work carefully in such hazardous situations.
Here are some tips to ensure safety at construction sites-
Be cautious with electrical equipment
Construction sites need a lot of electrical equipment. Make sure there is no wear and tear of the electrically operated machines and also follow the safety precautions listed for the equipment. In case the regulations are not clear, never hesitate to seek help from a site supervisor who has worked with the equipment before. If the equipment is a plugged-in portable device, like drills or grinders, make sure to check that the metal casing is grounded and the power is provided with an earth leakage circuit breaker.
Water should be avoided at any cost. Never stand or work right below any suspended load and check that the load is not exceeding the permissible limit. Proper training is needed in operating a few types of equipment like material hoists and cranes. Ensure that the hoist operates only after the gates are locked. The communication between the operator and the worker should be loud and clear as any miscommunication can lead to severe injuries.
Use the right personal protective equipment and apparel
As per Factories Act, and NSC, the employers are obliged to provide their workers with proper protective gear and clothing. Well fit helmets, protective eye wear, ear plugs, muffs, protective gloves (while dealing with toxic chemicals) are a must and should be worn after proper inspection. Full Body harnesses are life-saving equipment and are extremely important for every construction worker. Ensure that the equipment provided by the employers follow the standardised benchmark, and are properly inspected prior to every use.
Proper fall protection should be achieved by using the right shock-absorbing connecting elements to connect the worker’s harness to the right anchorage point. It is also important that workers are regularly imparted proper training on the use and maintenance of their personal protective equipment. Wearing bright colours or visible clothing is a must for every worker where there is a lot of movement of heavy vehicles. Climate protective gear and clothing should also be worn as workers have to work outdoors regardless of the weather conditions.
Double check work-areas
Scaffolds are one of the most important parts of most construction sites and are associated with a high number of injuries. Hence, it is necessary to always check the workers’ safety first. Work should never be done on an incomplete scaffold which does not have a strong base. Ladders are also essential construction site tools with a high risk of injuries. If the strength seems poor or wobbly, do not use the ladder. Follow the safety rules for ladders before using them.
Maintain fencing and prevent fires
The maximum number of injuries happen where there is no fencing. The areas with no fencing or any broken or damaged fencing should be avoided until they are completely repaired or a proper fencing is in place. There is always a possibility of fire while working with machines along with combustible chemicals and wielding operations. Open flames should always be kept away from construction sites due to the presence of flammable materials. Knowledge about using fire extinguishers and where they are kept may prove to be highly beneficial and may save workers from hazardous situations.
Site supervisors and contractor should make sure that first aid is always accessible to workers. Basic first aids for minor cuts, burns etc should be available on site all the time so that the basic assistance can be delivered to workers immediately. Trained personnel in first aid should be available when required. This will, in fact, be beneficial to the employer as after resting for some time, workers can return to work as soon as possible. First aid also assists in limiting the damage and prevents any sort of infection from spreading.
Overall, a construction worker needs to be careful at all times. Places with poor lighting should be avoided at any cost. Always avoid fidgeting with construction machinery and equipment. If any unsafe condition is present at the site, always reach out to the co-worker or the supervisor.