Among all the industries, construction remains one of the most dangerous to be in. Knowing this, the men and women who work to build our nation have the right to demand that every precaution be done to guarantee their safety at the job sites. With different moving parts on the job site, it is difficult for contractors to ensure that all safety procedures are being taken care of.
Below, we will discuss the most common violations in construction safety that are usually found on-site, contributing to most injuries and accidents.
As the saying goes, prevention is always better than cure.
1. Fall Protection
Suppose you are a senior in the construction industry. In that case, this #1 violation from OSHA should come as no surprise- fall protection is regarded as the most commonly known safety violation in the past decade in managing construction. Even though fall protection violations usually happen on rooftops or anywhere work is being done higher than six feet, there are many possibilities for areas where this can occur. From hidden holes to open walkways, there are a lot of opportunities for field workers to encounter a fall hazard on a jobsite.
To avoid fall hazards, your team should focus on daily pre-planning. This involves meeting with crew members daily to ensure that the construction safety measures are in place. Be sure to provide your team with adequate protective equipment, such as a body harness, for the job they’re working on.
Since the general contractor or construction manager oversee all of the work done on the project, they can supervise the workers on-site to ensure everyone’s compliance regarding the established protocols to keep themselves safe when working. Rounding the jobsite twice a day to ensure everyone complies with safety rules is a great way to prevent this violation. You can set up these inspections schedules by using construction scheduling software to add them to your daily work routine automatically. These short daily inspections may only take a few minutes, but they’ll surely save lives.
Sometimes associated with the “fall protection” category, this violation deserves to be acknowledged as separate negligence in its own right- considering how profound a simple scaffolding malfunction can injure a worker. This violation usually happens due to poorly constructed or assembled equipment when it comes down to it. Without nailing a scaffold to a supporting sill, for instance, contractors run the risk of letting the scaffold move too freely, sometimes to a dangerous degree. This instance can allow workers to fall from the scaffold and create the possibility of injuring others around it.
To avoid a scaffolding violation, ensure that your Structural Engineers have a detailed plan to assemble scaffolds correctly and implement them on the actual site. Check if their plan includes nailing the scaffold to a mudsill and installing mid-rails to prevent workers from falling off either side. Another way is to make sure that damaged parts or equipment are red-tagged or removed on site. An online inventory software lets you get a quick perspective of the tools and equipment you have on hand and those you already need to order from your supplier. This way, you’ll assemble a secure and safe scaffold for your crew on site.
Ladders, unlike common belief, are not for multi-purpose use. This needs to be highlighted strongly as construction workers tend to use a single ladder to complete various tasks, which is a violation. By using the wrong ladder for a specific job, contractors allow the possibility of their workers experiencing preventable injuries. Fall, usually from ladders, makes up eight percent of overall occupational fatalities. One example of this violation is when workers use an A-frame ladder for a job that requires a ladder to lean against a wall. By doing this, the ladder could possibly fall out from underneath the worker.
Since the general contractors manage construction projects as a whole, they can supervise the workers on-site and ensure the right equipment and tools for the job are available. Providing workers with different ladders for different jobs makes them more likely to finish the work with a low chance of injury.
The general manager or construction manager can also pre-plan the work early on to help avoid instances where ladder usage will be an issue or approve extra time for work where ladders would be involved so smaller teams would be present, lowering the number of exposed workers.
4. Respiratory Protection
Sometimes, specific work on-site can generate harmful pollutants that can affect both the environment and the workers. One of the most common instances, when this violation occurs is during the breaking of ground. Since toxic dust is in the air during the construction phase, workers are subject to possible long-term medical complications that can even cause lung damage.
A few ways to reduce the chance of this safety violation is through proper construction crew training on how to use PPE properly. Through this, crew members will learn to identify ill-fitting or damaged PPE.
Additionally, this PPE training can guarantee that your team members are equipped with the right PPE since they will learn this too. A second way to prevent this violation is by posting the proper safety procedures where toxins might be present in the air. Establishing and displaying such processes can help control the pollutants or dust and protect the safety of your team members.
5. Hazard Communication
The last safety OSHA violation, but certainly not least, is known as hazard communication. Hazard communication intends to ensure that all on-site chemicals are appropriately labeled and stored. These labels should also include any potential for harm, like how flammable the chemical is and what containers should be kept. If this critical information is not written on the label, it should be included in a material safety data sheet. Hazard communication violations happen when this material safety datasheet is not properly documented and updated. When not updated accordingly, workers run the risk of dealing with potentially dangerous chemicals improperly.
One way to avoid this safety violation is to ensure that crew members are familiar and have access to hazard communication, whether on labels of the chemicals themselves or through a material safety data sheet. Contractors can also make it compulsory for everyone to update the datasheet every time they handle the chemical. Through this, workers will use these chemicals with the utmost safety measures in mind.
The general or construction manager should be collecting all of these files from all the subcontractors involved in the project and must be stored in a central location. They can manage the overall hazard communication plan for the jobsite and provide Safety Data Sheet (SDS) information to all crew members. Reviewing the plans, checking SDS information, and rounding the site to confirm that chemical labeling is according to the required standards are all steps they can take to keep the project in conformity with the OSHA mandate.
Tips to Prevent Safety Violations from Happening
Don’t wait for a violation to happen. Fix it before it does.
Construction sites are dangerous, which is why it’s very critical that each one makes safety a top priority. Accident-free work settings are also more cost-efficient and productive. Every small step can significantly help save a contractor money and time while ensuring everyone on the team gets home safely at the end of a workday.
1. Schedule Regular Jobsite Inspections
Make sure someone, if not you, is regularly walking and rounding through the jobsite, giving it a thorough inspection to check if any potential hazards need to be addressed.
2. Frequently Check Equipment Performance and Maintenance
Contractors are obligated to do their best to protect their team from the more dangerous elements of a construction job site. Ensure that barriers are up and all safety components are in place before starting any work. Regular tune-ups and maintenance checks will promote peace of mind that everything is in good working order.
3. Ensure Workers Use the Proper Safety Gear
It’s one of the proven ways to protect your crew from the dangers on the job site and protect your company from costly violation fines. Goggles prevent debris from going on workers’ eyes, and earmuffs protect their hearing; reinforced safety shoes keep their feet safe from falling objects and sharp materials scattered around the job sites.
4. Train Everyone on Construction Safety Protocols
Everyone has a say and a good firsthand suggestion in keeping a job site safe. That’s why workers must be regularly provided with safety training courses to learn and offer recommendations. Site safety improves when every member knows what violations and hazards to look for. This also implies that more people on the site will learn to handle a precarious issue before it becomes a threatening crisis.
Don’t let these preventable, costly safety violations affect your construction crew management and overall team’s performance in the field. By taking ample time to plan and ensuring that everyone adheres to the right protocols, you can guarantee your team’s safety while moving your project forward.