The dangerous working conditions are responsible for high numbers of construction site injuries and deaths. According to the Health and Safety Authority (HSA) of Ireland, construction sector reported 454 workplace injuries in the year 2011. Though the rate of construction site injuries and fatalities is decreasing since 2009, the numbers are still significant, which are in turn affecting the employers (contractors/builders) in the form of hefty compensation claims. This situation strongly indicates the need for implementation of preventive measures at every construction site to avoid injuries and fatalities. In this article, we will discuss about few tips to prevent construction site accidents.
Maintain site as safe as possible
Slips, trips and falls are the major causes of construction site injuries. As the workers in the construction sites are more vulnerable to such incidents, your primary duty as a contractor/builder is to make sure that the site is safe.
Avoiding slips and trips: Small things like uneven surfaces, wet or slippery floors, building materials or waste, trailing cables, changes in surface levels at doorways, ramps, etc. can cause slips and trips.
If you can identify the risk prone areas and implement preventive measures like using mechanical lifting aids, minimizing building materials on-site, providing separate containers to throw waste, using cordless equipment, using signposts to warn workers about wet floors and change in surface levels, etc., you can effectively reduce slips and trips.
Preventing falls: Falls from heights are the biggest cause of fatal or serious construction site injuries. These incidents also give rise to huge compensation claims. Few preventive measures such as, proper planning and organizing of work, using right equipment, using strong scaffolding, securing the place or platform with proper edge protection, etc., can reduce the number of falls. Workers should wear safety belts while carrying out construction activities at a height of 2 meters and above. You should arrange nets or soft landing surfaces to limit the impact of possible fall.
Carefully execute structural demolition and alteration activities
Demolition and dismantling of structures for alteration purposes or for constructing new structures also poses significant amount of risks. Injuries due to accidental collapse of structures, exposure to hazardous material, noise and vibration, fire, etc. may be apparent during such activities.
In order to avoid such incidents, site managers should supervise the site and identify the risk factors. They need to make sure that all the connected services are isolated and hazardous materials like inflammable liquids, acids, microbiological hazards are cleared from the site before demolition.
Ensure electrical and fire safety
Activities near the overhead power lines, damage to the underground electric cables, improper maintenance and use of electrical equipment, etc., can significantly increase the risk of electricity-related accidents.
While your workers are working near the overhead power lines, make sure that they dont go too close to the power lines. Divert the lines from the work area or make the lines dead while working. Underground cables must be located and clearly marked so as to follow safe digging practices. Workers should be trained on handling and using the electrical equipment safely.
Similarly, fire safety measures should be taken to avoid fire hazards. Workers should be informed about various methods of fire fighting, escaping from fire and ways to communicate fire warning signs.
Besides workers safety, construction sites should also consider public safety, as builders/contractors are responsible for any injury or damage to a third party near the construction site. The primary step is to identify the hazards at the site, design safety features and implement them without fail. Using appropriate sign boards to warn the public about the hazards, barricades to prevent public from entering the work area, are few steps which can help protect the public. You can also prevent them from entering the site by restricting unauthorized access to the site.
Construction insurance helps mitigate the financial risks
Despite your best efforts to make the site a safe working place, accidents, injuries, and fatalities to employees or third party members are always a part of construction industry. So, it is sensible to protect your construction company using an effective insurance policy which offers cover against all the associated risks that can lead to liability. Choose a reputed insurance brokerage that helps you tailor the policy according to your needs.