August 15, 2012 – For general contractors, maintaining a safe construction site is a top priority. In 2010, though, more than 10,000 construction workers were injured. Year over year, falls are the leading cause of death on construction sites, representing more than a third of construction-related fatalities.
And while it would be extremely difficult to prevent all injuries and falls on the job site, there are measures everyone involved in the construction process can take to ensure safety.
First, instead of focusing on standards and requirement, focus on overall safety. Instead of focusing on just making your worksite OSHA compliant, take the process one step further, and think about making the workplace safe. And while this may add work to your construction process, it will ensure that your team has the necessary equipment, education, and policies to have a safe work environment.
Make workplace safety a top-down initiative. Oftentimes, crew workers may not report seeing unsafe conditions. Engage your employees in your new culture of safety by creating an environment where workers are free to share their observations of unsafe conditions.
Education is by far the best tool in your chest to prevent site injuries, especially fall prevention. Sometimes, your workers are so used to the heights, lifts, and climbing that they forget just how fast and easily a fall can happen. So when you sit down with your crew, you need to not only present training to them, but do it in a way that will change their behavior Â and helps to create a culture that emphasizes safety. Instead of simply telling your team they should use a harness, be sure to explain how a harness that is used properly will prevent injuries that could save their lives, then have them model the behavior youâ€™re after.
Finally, plan ahead for safety. The construction schedule can be one of the biggest hindrances of site safety. Contractors should plan for safety from the moment the project falls into his or her hands. Make sure that on the day workers walk onto the site, all safety equipment that is both required by law and needed is on-site rather than having the crews make do with what is available. That means holes are already marked, warning lines are placed on roofs, guardrails are installed, etc.
Look at planning ahead for on-site safety as an investment in your construction project and employees. Taking measures to prevent falls is worth the cost when you remember that not taking measures could mean a serious injury for one of your team members.