Most days, working as a construction worker feels like being a superhero – on a regular basis you are tasked with the handling of relatively heavy loads with access to the use of ultra-cool equipment and other construction tools. Riding in cranes and sitting on scaffolds sets you so high in the sky that you almost feel like flying. Still, it is important to note that the same thing which makes a construction job seem extraordinary is the thing that could expose you to a significant amount of stress. As a matter of fact, if you are not careful, you could sustain serious injuries along the way. In the same way, that security is important, safety is also important. It is essential that you familiarize yourself with basic safety tips.
Through various construction platforms, there are certain safety measures which you can easily follow and use to actively avoid some of the most common injuries, and stress is known to be rather rampant in construction sites. Some of these safety tips include:
- Always making sure that you are correctly getting on and off Equipment
According to reports, failure to properly get on and off equipment is the leading cause of injury to equipment operators, truck drivers, and forklift drivers. Besides safely getting on and off equipment, you should make use of protective gloves and boots. Make sure that your boots are clean before climbing aboard and use high grip gloves for a secure hand hold. Also be sure to securely engage the entire foot and hand – do not use a single toe or single finger hold grip. Additionally, use a step ladder to gain access to the equipment from the ground level especially in cases where no foot and hand holds are provided. Refrain from carrying objects while climbing. When getting off the equipment, it is strongly advised that you practice lowering yourself in an accurately controlled manner – never jump off carelessly.
- Correctly holding equipment when loading and offloading
Even at ground level, there is a risk of machines rolling over during the process of loading and off-loading. This being the case, it is advised that you make sure equipment is centered on its ramps and that it maintains an upright position throughout the process of loading and offloading. Most importantly ensure that you have left off some room to allow for the maneuvering of the trailer and machine. This might prove to be a challenge on compressed job sites, but it is important to be aware.
- Control the crowd around the working area
One of the main headaches for any backhoe operator is the people on site crowding the area around the machine. As strange as it may sound, there is usually no reason for them to stay there, according to reports, it’s just a habit that won’t go away. The question is, why create an exposure to serious injuries when none needs to exist. Simply put, always make sure that all the people on the site are within a reasonably safe distance away from the machines being operated at any given point or time.
- Maintaining a sizeable radius for the machine swing
According to reports, swing radius accidents have become very common. This being the case, it is imperative to rope off the swing radius immediately around the machine making sure that no spectators are in danger. In fact, use a spotter to help you keep people clear of the machine.
- Operating on slopes
It is advised that you always exercise extreme caution when operating on slopes. Making it up a slope with a load is relatively simple, however coming down with the same load might prove to be a challenge. To help you safely bring down a load on a slope, know the limits of the machine that you are using. More specifically, allow the surface conditions and most importantly refrain from pushing.
- Always watch out for any buried or overhead obstructions.
When handling various tasks around the construction site, it is strongly advised that you beware of overhead as well as underground utilities such as electrical cables, water lines, sewers, gas lines as well as phone lines. For such, the best thing to do is distinctively mark or warn others on the site of the overhead lines and any low clearances. Continue cautioning even after the underground lines have been marked. Even after marking there could be marking errors or oversights that could cause injuries if not closely observed. Also, take no chances and be ready to hand dig as you approach the underground lines.
- Always wear PPE when on site
PPE usually serves as the last line of defense if you are unfortunate enough to come into contact with hazardous materials on site. More specifically wear your hat, Hi-Viz vest and safety boots on the bare minimum alongside the PPE before setting out on site.
- Always keep the site tidy
There is no denying that construction work can get messy. To help maintain the number of slips and trip hazards to a minimum, it is strongly advised that you keep the site as neat as possible. You should also pay close attention to high-risk areas such as the access and the escape routes.
- Refrain from putting yourself and other people at risk
It goes without saying that you are entirely responsible for your behavior on the site. Construction sites are naturally dangerous, so it is strongly advised that you maintain safety when working through your shift.
- Strictly follow safety procedures and safety signs put out on site
Your employer is obliged to carry out a risk assessment for activities. On a personal level, make sure that you closely follow signs and any other procedures control measures that are put in place for your safety.
Always report defects as well as near misses. Never tamper with equipment and above all else always seek clarity when in doubt. Besides safety, expect to come across a rich source of valuable onsite collaboration techniques.
About the author:
Derek Hartman for GenieBelt, a construction project management software company based in Copenhagen, Denmark.