Construction site safety is a facet of construction-related activities concerned with protecting construction site workers and others from death, injury, disease, or other health-related risks. Construction is an often hazardous, predominantly land-based activity where site workers could also be exposed to various risks, many of which remain unrecognized. Site risks can include performing at height, moving machinery (vehicles, cranes, etc.) and materials, power tools and electrical equipment, hazardous substances, plus the consequences of excessive noise, dust, and vibration. The leading causes of construction site fatalities are crush injuries, falls, electrocutions, and caught-between injuries. 

The Issue of Safety on Construction Sites - Sheet1
Construction site_©https://www.designingbuildings.co.uk/w/images/1/1d/Offsiteconstruction.jpg

Unsafe working at height/fall from height

The Issue of Safety on Construction Sites - Sheet2
Workers working at a height on a construction site_©https://medium.com/@BISTraining/top-7-essential-tips-for-working-safely-at-height-5c9d114c7eff

Falls from heights remain the most important cause of occupational fatalities in the construction industry. Injuries caused by falls are more likely to be life-threatening than most other sorts of injuries. While other common causes for accidents—such as falling objects, overexertion, or vehicle or machine accidents—are more likely to injure only an element of the body, injuries from falls can easily affect the full body and vital organs. The probabilities of surviving a fall from more than 30 feet are low, but even six feet can prove deadly when landing on the incorrect body part or surface. Spinal, head, or neck injuries are a standard result of falls, no matter height, and may leave the worker severely disabled or lead to death.

Solutions

  1. Provision of labour equipment to minimize the distance and consequences of a fall, e.g. fall arrest systems.
  2. Instruction and training and/or other means.
  3. Use Railing: Railing could even be a form of Passive protection, the sole and most recommended way to keep your workers safe while achieving compliance. There is no training or extra equipment needed because there’s nothing that they need to do to keep themselves safe (other than stay within the rail)
  4. Use the proper Equipment for Working at Heights: Just as harnesses are not one-size-fits-all, neither are fall protection solutions. In some situations, a scaffold goes to be your best solution to figure at heights. This safety precaution will make your fall protection much easier to cater to. Other times, scaffolds are visiting be infeasible, and you’ll find yourself on a lift.
The Issue of Safety on Construction Sites - Sheet3
Use of railings for fall protection_©https://www.safesite.co.uk/wp-content/uploads/2020/05/Guardrail_load_requirements.jpg

Unsafe lifting operations

The Issue of Safety on Construction Sites - Sheet4
Crane Lifting operation on a site_©https://essentialsiteskills.co.uk/blog/post/what-does-appointed-person-lifting-operations-do

A lifting operation is an operation concerned with the lifting and lowering of a load; it is often performed manually or using lifting equipment. Injuries from lifting and handling loads can occur in many occupations. Workers are exposed to risk once they lift, lower, or carry objects. The hazards in lifting operations include:

  1. The deterioration of the machine may be a result of wet, corrosive, or harsh environments.
  2. Lifting load more than the machine load limit
  3. Malfunctioning of the equipment
  4. Movement of components by equipment, dropping of load from equipment thanks to mishandling.

Solutions

  1. Perform daily operation checks: A crane operator must use a daily inspection checklist to make sure the crane is safe before operation. 
  2. Pay Attention to Load Limits: Although many modern cranes include load moment indicators and rated capacity limiters, crane operators should still understand how to read load charts to prepare for a safe lift.
  3. Select appropriate PPE for all employees: you want to ensure your employees wear appropriate foot, head, and eye protection, together with any other PPE you have identified in your risk assessment.
The Issue of Safety on Construction Sites - Sheet5
PPE Kits for construction workers_©https://www.mnltap.umn.edu/topics/workplace/personal_protection_equipment/index.html

Fire

The Issue of Safety on Construction Sites - Sheet6
Fire on a site_©https://www.safetyahead.ca/Safety-News/fire-safety-plan

The combination of ignition and fuel sources on construction sites makes them very high-risk areas for fire breakouts. Not only can this cause major damage to materials on site and delays to project deadlines, but it can pose a vast threat to life. The common causes of fireside include:

  1. The presence of flammable waste materials
  2. The use of explosive substances like gases and solvents
  3. Incomplete electrical systems and hot work processes.
  4. The nature of the unfinished building
  5. The storage of (often flammable) building materials on things increases the damage caused once a hearth does take hold and may also pose increased risks to fire and rescue teams.

Solutions

  1. Waste plan: Plan designated areas for waste with fire and emergency procedures in situ to confine and deal with a fire should it break out. Ideally, skips and other waste containers should be distant from things boundaries to reduce the risk of arson and far away from buildings and storage of flammable substances so that if a fire starts, it cannot spread further.
  2. Safe electrics: Electrical systems, including temporary supplies, must only be installed and maintained by a competent electrician. Do not forget about portable electrical equipment, which may be easily damaged during construction work due to trailing cables and heavy use.
  3. No smoking: Many fires can start accidentally, instead of intentionally, by something as simple as a discarded cigarette end. Smoking should be carefully controlled and confined to a delegated area, on or off-site. Don’t smoke in open areas of high fire risk and only in designated smoking areas. Eliminate matches and cigarette butts carefully.
  4. Provide extinguishers: Always have fire extinguishers readily handy throughout things. Make sure you have the right types of extinguishers suitable for the classes of fire that may occur, which enough people are trained on because of using them properly.
The Issue of Safety on Construction Sites - Sheet7
No smoking symbol_©https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:No_smoking_symbol.sv
The Issue of Safety on Construction Sites - Sheet8
Fire extinguisher on site_©https://www.safelincs.co.uk/fire-safety-on-construction-sites/

Unsafe Excavations

The Issue of Safety on Construction Sites - Sheet9
Sliding failure of soil_©OSH Academy

Excavation Hazards are the risks related to soil excavation at construction sites. While construction site excavation, both the workers inside and on the surface of trenches are at high risk. So protective measures must be considered against the hazards within the excavation. Various kinds of excavation hazards include:

  1. Asphyxiation because of lack of oxygen
  2. Inhalation of toxic materials
  3. Excavated Soil or Equipment falling on workers.
  4. Moving machinery near the sting of the excavation can cause a collapse.
  5. Falling, Slips, Trips
  6. Material handling Hazards.

Solutions

  1. Make sure there is a safe entrance and exit: In some cases, when hazardous conditions arise during a trench or excavation site, survival depends on how quickly workers can get out. 
  2. Provide cave-in protection: Soil is usually unstable, so this makes all excavation sites hazardous. Consequently, workers need protective systems or equipment while inside trenches with a depth of 5 feet or more. Without this gear, they’re in peril of being crushed by a cave-in.
  3. Soil conditions must be evaluated, so appropriate protective systems are often chosen and built consistent with standard requirements. Finally, it’s important to only keep excavations open for the minimum time needed to end the project. This reduces the probability of accidents and injuries.
  4. Don’t place materials around the edge of an excavation: Excavated material, also mentioned as spoils, becomes hazardous if it’s positioned too near the edge of a trench or excavation. this is often due to the ability of their weight to cause a cave-in and the potential for spoils and equipment to roll back on top of workers, which can result in serious injuries or death.
  5. There are several actions you’ll fancy to provide proper protection from spoils. This includes placing spoils and equipment a minimum of two feet back from a properly protected excavation site, using retaining devices, a kind of a trench box, that span over the very best of the trench to keep equipment and spoils from falling back into the site, and hauling spoils to a special location if the site doesn’t allow a two-foot setback.

Unsafe electrical equipment and connections/electrical shock

open electric wires_©https://www.ul.com/insights/8-signs-you-may-have-problem-your-electrical-wiring

Death and high injury can occur from exposure to electrical hazards on construction sites. Electric shock is the main risk. The tough conditions on many construction sites can damage electrical equipment and cables and reduce their lifespan. Below are a number of the common electrical hazards that can be found around the job site while working:

 

  1. Overhead Power Lines
  2. Damaged Equipment and Cords
  3. Inadequate Wiring, Overloaded Circuits, and Improper Grounding
  4. Operating Electrical Equipment in Wet Conditions
  5. Failing to Use Fire-Retardant Materials

Solutions

  1. Encourage the workers to check on the insulated tools for damage before using them. If the insulation layer is cracked or damaged in any way, it becomes an electrical conductor and would not be safe to use. Replace those instruments immediately.
  2. Use the proper power tools and extensions for the job at hand. Make sure that the wattage rating of the extension is greater than the power requirement of the equipment it’s powering.
  3. Keep the electrical components, even surplus electrical inventory, far away from water or damp places. Store all the facility tools in dry areas and keep the outdoor receptacles covered. 
  4. Ensure that you hire only licensed electricians to install, repair, and dismantle the work site wiring. They always follow the electrical safety rules and ensure greater protection to everybody using the facility tools and construction safety. It also helps in preventing injuries that may be a result of underqualified and unlicensed people installing.

References

  1. https://www.ehstoday.com/ppe/fall-protection/article/21920024/working-at-heights-why-the-risks-of-occupational-accidents-still-fall-on-deaf-ears 
  2. https://www.opuskinetic.com/2017/09/risks-in-heavy-lifting-operations/ 
  3. https://www.cityfire.co.uk/news/5-common-causes-of-fire-on-construction-sites/ 
  4. https://www.haspod.com/blog/fire/fire-prevention-tips-construction-sites 
  5. https://www.urbint.com/blog/protect-workers-excavation-safety-hazards 
  6. https://www.worksafe.govt.nz/topic-and-industry/electricity/electrical-safety-on-construction-sites/ 
  7. https://www.dfliq.net/blog/unsafe-electrical-installations-causes-and-solutions/ 
Author

Rethinking The Future (RTF) is a Global Platform for Architecture and Design. RTF through more than 100 countries around the world provides an interactive platform of highest standard acknowledging the projects among creative and influential industry professionals.

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