10 Construction Safety Tips for General Contractors
Considering that the construction project site is one of the most hazardous types of workplaces, it pays to have thorough safety protocols. The number of construction site deaths in Ontario alone is around 20 per year, showing just how dangerous this industry can be.
In this guide, we will discuss why it’s important to ensure safety in construction sites, and 10 construction safety tips that you can use today. We will also talk about the role of insurance in construction safety.
Why Construction Safety Is Worth The Extra Effort
By having thorough safety protocols in place at your construction site you can avoid accidents that could lead to injury or death. Some of the most common fatal or injury-causing accidents in the construction site are as follows:
- Slips, trips, and falls – These kinds of accidents can be caused by spills, uneven surfaces or wires, and account for around 66% of 42,000 fall accidents experienced by workers each year.
- Fall from a height – Whether the fall is from scaffolding, a ladder, or other kinds of elevation equipment, these accidents account for around 54% of workplace fatalities.
- Being struck by falling or flying objects – Construction projects are often done on multiple levels. Therefore, falling debris, tools, and materials are common sources of accidents.
- Being struck by moving machinery or vehicles – Around 13% of workplace deaths in construction are due to being struck by heavy machinery or vehicles moving around the site.
- Electrocution – Unsafe practices around power lines and conductors can have unfortunate outcomes. At least 2 critical injuries related to electrocution happen each year in Ontario alone.
Increased Likelihood of an Approved Insurance Claim
The pertinent type of insurance when it comes to workplace injuries is workers’ compensation insurance. Some unsafe practices, as we will discuss in the next section, can lead to claims being denied. This is another reason why safety practices must be followed.
Construction Safety Tips
1. Wear PPE at All Times and Inspect Them Before Use
Any time that you step into a project site, make sure to wear your personal protective equipment. They may not wholly prevent accidents, but they can lessen the effects of such accidents.
It is as important to keep your PPE clean and inspect them for damage before use. Some damages, such as chips and cracks, can significantly lessen a PPE’s efficiency and must be replaced immediately.
2. Know How to Safely Operate and Move Around Heavy Equipment and Machinery
Considering that heavy equipment and machinery are major sources of construction-related injuries, extra care must be taken.
Here are some machinery-related construction safety tips to keep in mind:
- Make sure to have a signaler when operating heavy machinery.
- Do NOT operate heavy machinery unless you have the required training/license to do so.
- Read the operating manual of new heavy machinery before using them.
- Avoid wearing baggy clothes and untied long hair when operating machinery with moving parts.
- Use a warning sign to alert other workers in high-traffic areas when heavy machinery will be used.
- Make sure that the reverse alarms are working before operating vehicles in reverse.
- As best as possible, avoid moving close to heavy machinery when it is in use.
3. Report Any Tool or Equipment Defects Immediately
Any time that you detect defects or anomalies on tools or equipment, report them immediately. Such tools can potentially cause accidents especially in the hands of someone who doesn’t know about their defects.
4. Use Signage For Spills and Promptly Ensure Clean-Up
To avoid slips and falls because of undetected spills, use a sign to mark the area and take the needed steps to ensure proper clean-up.
5. Use Warning Signs For Power Lines and Take Extra Care With Such Areas
Here are some construction safety tips to avoid electrocution accidents:
- Use warning signs for live wires and power lines.
- High voltage electricity can travel through equipment, so make sure to avoid placing or moving equipment under or close to power lines.
- Have the proper PPE when required to move around electricity.
6. Close Off Exclusion Zones When Needed
Establish, close off, and mark exclusion zones whenever large objects or materials are being moved. The same can be done in any area that poses a high-risk for workers.
7. Take All Added Cautions When Working From Heights
Falling from heights is another common and fatal type of construction accident. As such, make sure to follow these relevant construction safety tips:
- Make sure that scaffolding, platforms, and ladders are damage-free before use.
- Make sure that you have proper training and safety equipment when working from heights.
- Avoid the use of ladders or stacked items to increase the height on top of the scaffolding.
8. Know About Your Right to Refuse Unsafe Work
Contractors have the right to refuse unsafe work. By definition, unsafe work is a task that will put yourself or others at risk – such as when there is a dangerous condition at the worksite. Invoking this right should not result in disciplinary action or loss of work or pay.
9. Avoid Irresponsible Actions at Work
This may seem like a basic construction safety tip but over time, workers may get too comfortable. When this happens, they tend to put their guard down and engage in seemingly harmless horseplay during lull times on the site. Irresponsible actions of whatever magnitude can lead to an accident. This can result in a denied insurance claim under the worker’s compensation insurance policy.
10. Report Workplace Related Accidents Immediately And Accurately
Reporting workplace-related accidents immediately is a must, mainly because it could summon immediate medical attention. Do not judge an injury by its appearance alone. For example, the signs and symptoms of concussions may not show up fully until hours later.
In addition, accidents reported too late and with incongruent accounts will likely result in a denied claim.
The Role of Insurance in Construction Safety
Sometimes accidents still happen, even with advanced safety protocols in place. Workers’ compensation insurance is there to cover medical bills, lost income, disability benefits, death benefits, and funeral expenses when a worker gets injured or is killed while performing a job task.
In addition, the safety of third-party individuals such as the general public, clients, suppliers, and so on must also be ensured. This is what commercial general liability insurance is for.
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