All employers have a responsibility in protecting the health and safety of their staff, regardless of their occupation or industry. For construction workers, who are exposed to high risk environments, there are additional dangers which must be considered.
In NSW, approximately 25,000 workers were injured on construction sites due to unsafe work practices in the past three years alone. Of these, 1700 people were permanently disabled and 23 lost their lives. These are alarming statistics — they highlight the importance of implementing preventative construction site safety measures.
If you're a construction project manager or site manager, it's up to you to take the right precautions and safeguard your workplace from unnecessary risks. At Latham we’ve put together our top 10 ways to keep your construction site safe, so that you can protect yourself and your employees from unnecessary grief.
11 ways to keep your construction safe:
1. Start with safety training
All workers must hold a current white card before they commence work on-site. Site-specific induction training should also be completed by each worker, to point out any high risk areas and provide instructions for emergency management.
2. Minimise and manage risk
Due to the nature of construction work, it's impossible to eliminate all safety risks. However, many common safety issues can be avoided by conducting regular safety audits and having procedures in place to report, assess and address potential risks.
3. Site security
Restricted site access should not only be put in place to simply protect equipment from damage or theft. Security in and outside of work hours is integral to protect pedestrians from potential construction hazards. This includes supervision or authorised site visitors.
Strict security and safety protocols will also protect contractors from liability and negligence in the case of a safety incident or security breach.
4. Safe work method assessment
A safe work method statement (SWMS) must be prepared for all high risk construction projects, before work commences. The SWMS should outline the scope of work involved, any potential safety issues, and how risks will be prevented and managed. By law, construction work must not commence until SWMS standards are met.
5. Use clear signage throughout the site
The site SWMS should be clearly displayed at the construction site, so that all safety protocols are readily available - including a 24 hour emergency contact number and a map or directions to the site office. Visible signage should also indicate site amenities (such as toilets), entry and exit points, and first aid or emergency fire equipment.
6. Entry and exit points
Separate entry and exit points should be established for heavy machinery/vehicle access, to strengthen pedestrian safety at high traffic points.
7. Compliant chemical storage
Chemicals need to be stored very carefully to minimise fires, explosions, asphyxiation, chemical injury and pollution on worksites. Use high quality, compliant outdoor storage solutions such as explosive storage cabinets to segregate chemicals and reduce spillage.
8. Environmental conditions
Extreme weather conditions can cause serious safety hazards. Your on-site emergency plan should provide clear guidelines for workers who need to stop work in the event of natural disaster, severe environmental conditions or other emergency circumstances.
9. First aid
For the construction industry, it's best practice to provide one first aid officer per 25 workers. First aid kits and equipment must be placed in an easily accessible area on site.
10. Provide personal protective (PPS) equipment
In many situations an employer is obligated to provide PPS such as high vis vests, safety goggles and safety harnesses to construction site workers. To find what PPS you are required to provide for a specific project, contact Safe Work Australia.
11. Dropped objects
It is your responsibility to secure objects onsite and minimise the risk of them falling. This video explains the risks and how they can be avoided by putting preventative safety measures in place.
Construction safety doesn't end once the project is completed, and your workers have gone home. All parties involved in the construction process have a responsibility in ensuring that the the right equipment and quality materials are used, so that safety risks are avoided long into the future.
For more ways to keep your construction site safe using Latham range of premium and reliable architectural safety products, visit our website or download of our free catalogues.