8 Best Practices to Improve Construction Site Safety

8 Best Practices to Improve Construction Site Safety

Published July 8, 2019

6 minute read

The risk on a construction site are generally quite higher. There are sharp objects and heavy items that may result in serious harm or injury, which is why safety measures need to be implemented.

Construction sites are inherently dangerous places. However, with the right safety measures in place, you can reduce the risk of injury to your workers.

Construction work is one of the most dangerous professions, and work on the job site is where most accidents occur. Employers do need to mitigate safety hazards to construction workers, but workers need to keep in mind a lot of precautions themselves when working in such hazardous conditions.

In this post, we're going to discuss eight best practices that companies can use to improve construction site safety.

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1. Awareness


Before any worker — no matter his or her role or experience level — can set foot on a construction site, he or she must be fully aware of the possible hazards. Ignorant workers are perhaps the biggest dangers in any industry, as their unknowing mistakes put everyone else at risk.

Every single person that steps foot onto a construction site should be aware of the risks associated with the job and how to prevent them with their knowledge of construction site safety. It is the construction managers job to make sure that every worker is aware of the dangers that come with working on a construction site and they must protect workers from these dangers.

Training sessions and awareness discussions should be held regularly to ensure that workers understand the risks. It's not just about managers discharging their duty and letting workers know, they must ensure that workers understand the severity of risks on the site. 

2. Training


Though most of a construction worker’s skills can be gained on the job, safety is one skill set that is best learned before works enter the construction site. Experienced workers should be expected to refresh their knowledge of standard safety by attending regular training sessions throughout the year.

These training sessions can go over simple things such as fall protection and proper use of ladders, but the goal is to make sure everyone is adequately trained. Leaving these training sessions, workers should know what safety measure to do in the case of an incident. Although workers are expected to attend regular safety training sessions about construction safety throughout the year, being able to practice safety training skills on-site would help construction workers enforce the safety rules.

Practicing construction site safety training skills on-site will force workers to practice these skills in an environment where safety is essential and will make sure they are trained.

Some organisations often go with visual aids to help drive the point home about the many risks and injuries that can occur on a construction site. It's generally a wise idea to use a variety of techniques to train employees, instead of just sending out a manual.

3. Communication 


Accidents are more likely to occur when workers are unsure what to expect. Direct discussion of the day’s goals and activities will cut down on surprises that could cause bodily harm. Without proper communication between everyone on the construction site, workers won’t know what to expect.

Clear and concise communication with everyone not only makes the project go by faster but also helps keep each person informed. Informing the staff and making sure everyone is doing their job is a proper way to communicate and make sure they understand construction site safety.

Download our free guide on 8 Steps to Ensure a Safer Workplace, here.

Before construction work begins, it’s important to have a comprehensive plan in place. This includes having all necessary permits and certifications, developing a clear chain of command for reporting incidents, creating an emergency response plan for potential hazards, establishing safety protocols and procedures, conducting safety training sessions for workers and contractors, and identifying any potential risks or hazards. It’s also important to make sure that all employees are aware of their rights under local regulations.

4. Documentation


To enforce construction site safety, you have to make sure you have proper documentation of everything that is going to be done on-site.

There are some legal hoops most construction companies must jump through to begin building, and it is essential that all proper registrations and licenses are earned before work begins.

Supervisors and contractors who will be charged with particularly difficult tasks, like blasting, certainly should provide evidence of their certification well in advance of their employment on the job site.

Not only does this prevent accidents due to improper training, but it protects the construction firm from legal action and public scrutiny.

It's also important to document various types of hazards and the steps taken to mitigate the risk they pose. For instance, falls are among the most common causes of injury in construction sites – so it's essential that any work performed at height has been properly planned and managed by qualified personnel.

This includes using appropriate fall prevention measures such as guardrails or harnesses as well as providing adequate training on how to safely work at heights. Additionally, ensure that ladders are inspected regularly for any signs of damage or defects before they are used. 

Detailed documentation must be prepared for all types of activities to be conducted on the site. This is likely to be iterative, since the documentation will evolve as new activities are planned and executed. 

5. Proper Equipment


Construction workers equipped with improper gear are bound to make fatal errors. Not only should each piece of equipment on the job site be ideally suited to the task at hand, but construction firms have to make sure that all machinery and material are well maintained.

Construction companies must also consider the equipment that doesn’t directly contribute to the construction project.

Workers should have plenty of water available on-site as well as a shady place to prevent dehydration and exposure-related illnesses. Longer construction projects may even benefit from fabric structures to store equipment and cover incomplete sites.

Such simple things can be easily overlooked, and if they are, they increase the chance of on-site injury. Proper construction equipment ensures that there is at least some level of construction site safety within the construction firm.

Providing your workers with appropriate personal protective equipment (PPE) is one of the most important steps you can take to keep them safe on the job. Common types of PPE include gloves, hard hats, protective eyewear, respiratory protection, steel-toed boots, and high visibility clothing.

Ensure that all PPE is properly fitted and adjusted for each individual worker before they enter a job site. Additionally, provide refresher training on how to use this equipment correctly and frequently inspect it for any signs of damage or wear. 

It's also important that the PPE is regularly checked. For instance, hard hats must be tested for their integrity and replaced if necessary. This is especially true for long-term construction projects that are likely to continue for several years. 

6. Supervision


Every site must have a strong supervisor who is willing and capable of enforcing safety standards with no exceptions. This foreman must keep tabs on all employees throughout the day and correct those who fail to commit to proper construction site safety procedures.

A supervisor must keep an eye out for potential hazards such as exposed electrical wiring or slippery surfaces that could put workers in danger. If any of these hazards exist, it’s up to the supervisor to address them quickly and effectively before anyone gets hurt.

They should also be familiar with applicable legislation, such as HSE or OSHA standards, so they can ensure that all personnel on-site are adhering to them properly. Finally, supervisors should be able to spot when workers may be engaging in unsafe practices or taking shortcuts that could put others at risk and correct them immediately before any harm occurs.  

Supervisors have an important role in maintaining productivity levels as well; they can help keep projects running according to schedule by keeping an eye on deadlines and ensuring that tasks get done efficiently and correctly the first time around.

Supervisors should also be able to recognize when tasks may take longer than anticipated due to unforeseen circumstances or complications, allowing them time plan accordingly so there aren’t any delays in completion of the project or any additional costs incurred due to overtime pay for personnel who need extra hours on site beyond regular hours worked due date conflicts or other problems that may arise during construction projects.

7. Innovation


The accident rate would be even higher than it is today if it wasn’t for construction firms willing to devote extra resources to keep their employees safe. These additional resources not only lower the rates of workplace accidents and injuries but also helps develop new ideas for keeping construction workers safe. The development of new practices that will enhance security should always be encouraged.

Innovation is a critical component on any construction site, as it allows companies to think "outside the box" and come up with solutions that are more effective than before. Innovation should be valued highly to improve construction site safety and companies should generally allocate adequate resources.

8. Transparency


People understand that accidents happen, and as long as contractors are doing their best to foster a safe environment for their workers, any accidents that do occur will only contribute to the growing need to augment modern safety techniques. Transparency, along with the other seven practices on this list, will help construction become a safer industry in which to work.

Transparent communication fosters an environment where everyone feels comfortable speaking up and raising concerns. This allows EHS teams to work together to identify potential issues before they become larger problems.

It also helps create a culture of safety where workers feel empowered to speak up if something doesn’t seem right or if they have suggestions for improvement. When everyone is on the same page about what needs to be done and why it needs to be done, it increases efficiency and decreases the likelihood of mistakes being made due to miscommunication. 

Having an open dialogue between everyone involved in a project is also critical for success. Everyone should understand their role and how their tasks fit into the larger picture; if someone does not feel comfortable asking questions or voicing any concerns they may have, those issues may not be addressed until it’s too late.

Open dialogue encourages collaboration among team members which makes it easier for them to come up with creative solutions that address potential issues before they become bigger problems down the line. 

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Author Gillian

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