Every year, tens of thousands of construction workers are injured on the job. Roughly 1,000 lose their lives. Many of these injured workers end up needing weeks, or even months off work, costing both them and their employer money. Most of these injuries are completely avoidable given the proper safety measures. Here are some common-sense tips to help keep your workers safe.
Train employees well
A trained employee is a safe employee! The number one thing you can do to keep your workers safe is to educate them. Your business should have an official, written safety policy, and it should be given to every employee upon hire. In addition, regular meetings should be held to emphasize and reinforce protocol. Employees should take part in ongoing, routine training sessions to make sure they still understand all the rules and regulations. In fact, many employers require employees to sign off on an official document certifying that they’ve read the regulations and understand them.
Make sure employees have the right equipment
Always provide employees with head, eye, and hearing protection. It’s not only the right thing to do, but it’s required by OSHA. Each employee should have their own equipment that fits them properly and is free of damage. Gear should be inspected before going on the job each day to check for signs of wear and tear – in particular, hard hats should be free of any cracks or dents, and eye protection should be clean and cleared of any debris or grease which may make it difficult to see.
Keep the job site clean
Keeping a construction site clean might seem like an impossible task, but there are certain steps that can be taken to make your site a safer place. Assign clean-up tasks to employees on a daily basis to help ensure that the appropriate housekeeping measures always are taken. Keep the work areas clear to help avoid accidents such as tripping or getting cut on exposed nails. Make sure spills are cleaned up immediately, and make sure all scrap materials get disposed of appropriately. Toxic and hazardous materials need to be given special care. Failure to handle toxic material in the appropriate way can result in serious injury.
Keep Ladders and Stairways Safe
Ladder safety is consistently within the top-10 most cited OSHA violations at work sites. In fact, OSHA estimates that there are 24,882 injuries and as many as 36 fatalities per year due to falls on stairways and ladders used in construction. Nearly half of these injuries were serious enough to require time off the job. In order to avoid these accidents, a few simple steps can be taken:
- Use the right ladder for the job. Step ladders, extension ladders, and combo ladders are all intended for different things, and should always be used as intended.
- Always inspect for damage, wear, and cleanliness before use. Check for broken or bent rungs, loose steps, and any debris or grease which may make the ladder unsafe.
- Check for weight limit. Every ladder has a weight limit (which includes you and any equipment you’re carrying. Exceeding that limit could lead to serious injury.
- Make sure you have a ladder that is the right height for the job. Never try to extend your ladder in any way – this could cause it to slip and fall. Instead, take the time to find the appropriate-size ladder for the job.
Taking the time to teach and enforce safety policies up front will save you a lot of lost work hours (and money) in the long run.