How to Stay Safe on the Construction Site: An Essential Checklist

Working on a construction site is statistically one of the most dangerous jobs you can do. While you might think the list of the world’s most dangerous jobs would contain more overtly risky roles like a fighter pilot, fire-fighter or policeman, the reality is that farming, construction, manufacturing and commercial fishing present far greater risks.   

The potential for serious injury and even fatalities is ever-present on a construction site. Simply carrying heavy materials in the wrong way, or operating equipment without taking the necessary safety precautions, can cause debilitating injuries.

The truth is that no matter how health and safety conscious your workforce might be, there’s simply no such thing as a completely safe construction safe. However, you can mitigate the risks you face on a daily basis. The key to construction site safety is to build a systematic and comprehensive health and safety checklist to protect construction workers from potential hazards. These guidelines should then be strictly enforced until they become second nature.

Here are the absolute essentials of any construction site checklist:

Ladders and scaffolding

Ladders and scaffolding are two of the most likely causes of accidents on construction sites. There are strict rules and regulations that need to be met for construction safe scaffolding. It should always:

• Be erected at least 10 feet from power lines
• Be checked and regularly reviewed by a qualified engineer
• Have guard rails and toe boards to prevent workers from falling
• Have safety nets to prevent injury in the event of a fall

Ladders present their own distinct set of risks. You only have to fall 1-2 metres from a ladder to suffer a serious injury or even death. Currently, over 85 percent of deaths occur in non-occupational activities, and this is largely due to the safety checks construction sites are subject to.

Aluminium ladders are lightweight and sturdy, making them perfect for use on construction sites. However, when working on a site near electrical wires, fibreglass ladders should be used. If extension ladders are required they must be sturdy and lean back one foot for every four feet of height.

Protective clothing and equipment

There can’t be any shortcuts when working on a construction site. Protective clothing is essential to a worker’s ability to do their job safely, without any distractions. Clothing that insulates workers and provides protection from the elements should be worn, and should be clearly visible to reduce the risk of accidents. There are also some protective clothing items that must be worn when operating certain equipment. This includes:

• Face shields and safety glasses are mandatory when welding or working with dangerous chemicals
• Safety gloves must be worn which have been specifically designed for the job i.e. welding, operating power tools etc.
• Hard hats must be worn on a building site at all times, and should be routinely inspected for flaws
• Shoes with slip resistant, solid soles must be worn
• Protection harnesses must be worn for specific tasks

Securing the site

Construction sites must be properly secured, not only to deter criminals, but also to prevent members of the public entering the site and potentially suffering an injury.

There must also be a designated area on the site which is both hygienic and safe, where workers can wash, take breaks and eat meals. Construction companies must also provide clean bathroom facilities.

Working with electricity

Electrical hazards are an ever-present on construction sites. Safety switches have become a mandatory part of a construction company’s health and safety obligations to mitigate the risk and keep workers safe.

Safety switches protect workers from electrical circuits that become damaged. They monitor the flow of electricity running through the circuit and immediately cut the supply in the event of any surges or irregularities.

As part of your construction site safety checklist, there are a few rules you must follow in regard to the maintenance and use of power points:

• Never overload power points by plugging too many appliances into a single socket. Either • use a different power point or turn off the equipment and remove the plugs that are already there
• Insert safety plugs into unused power points to prevent accidental contact
• Ascertain a maximum voltage allowance for each power point and stick to it
• Always keep power points clean and free from dirt and dust
• Never wipe dirty power points or electrical switches with a damp cloth

That’s just the start of construction site safety

These are just a few of the fundamentals of construction site safety that act as an effective starting point to keep workers safe. There are also be a wide range of tool and task-specific safety considerations and training courses that must be taken into account to make your construction site as safe as such a potentially dangerous place can be.

Author bio: Sam Butterworth is a health and safety writer who works for UK Safety Store, a provider of workplace safety supplies and equipment which also blogs about related issues.

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