Construction sites are full of all sorts of hazards, making them one of the most dangerous job sites of all. In fact, according to OSHA, more than 20 percent of all worker fatalities are in the construction industry. There are, on average, about 100 work-related deaths per week in the US in construction, and exponentially more non-fatal injuries.
The vast majority of injuries and deaths fit into one of the “big four” types of construction site dangers:
It’s important to become well acquainted with safety best practices, especially if you’re new to working construction. But even if you’ve been at it for years or decades, it’s good to periodically brush up on tips for construction site safety.
Below are vital resources and tips for construction site safety that can prevent minor and serious injuries, as well as deaths.
Minimizing Worker Risk at Construction Sites
- Management must create thorough safety plans and procedures and make them readily available to everyone; workers must review them
- Crew members should only perform tasks and operate equipment they are properly trained for; all personnel should have any required registrations, licenses, or certifications for their jobs
- Mandatory safety and job training refresher courses should be provided regularly throughout the year
- Everyone at the construction site must wear personal protective equipment (PPE) at all times that is appropriate for their tasks and location
- Workers must always remain alert and attentive; understand the dangers and how to prevent construction worker fatigue
- Never show up to work under the influence of alcohol, drugs, or medications that can impair your judgment, motor skills, reflexes, ability to concentrate, etc.; you don’t only endanger yourself, but also anyone else on the site and possibly the quality of the project
- Know how to stay safe around heavy equipment
- Know how to stay safe around trenches
- Workers should have reliable communication devices, such as smartphones, headsets, or walkie-talkies
- Workers should also be familiar with essential signals for easy, non-verbal, visual communication across distances and between heavy equipment operators and ground crew
- Always follow proper procedures for ladder safety
- Always follow proper procedures for scaffold safety
- Establish and clearly mark transportation paths for vehicles and heavy equipment
- When applicable, follow proper procedures for roadside construction site safety
- Heavy equipment should always be inspected before and after every use; never operate damaged or malfunctioning machines
- Make sure all potentially unsafe heavy equipment, tools, and materials are clearly marked as such and stored where they will not be used
- Keep up with all relevant documentation of plans, completed work, and problems
- Ensure that an adequate number of supervisors and managers are on the ground, visible, and being proactive about enforcing safety rules
- Create an environment where workers can confidentially and comfortably speak up about safety concerns, especially if they’re about other personnel; regularly encourage them to do so