Construction Safety // Anna Groppoli
As a first time construction worker I realized I had little training as far as construction safety goes. True, many general safety requirements are common knowledge. But there are many regulations that are not. As a student going onto a construction site, it is a necessity to be properly informed about safety procedures. In this short blog post, I will discuss the three primary areas of jobsite safety concern.
Personal Protective Equipment//
Personal Protective Equipment, orPPE, is “equipment worn to minimize exposure to serious workplace injuries and illnesses” (OSHA.gov). Some of these items include gloves, hard hats, respirators, steel toed boots, safety glasses, and earplugs. Though employers are required to provide professional laborers with the proper protective equipment at no cost to them, it is up to the worker to take the responsibility of keeping themselves safe. After a discussion with a local engineer in Kansas City, I was informed about a job site he was on. One of the men on the construction crew showed up on site without his steel toed boots or hard hat, claiming he had forgotten them at home. So this particular engineer said “go home, you’re not getting paid today”. Though it is the professional workers’ personal responsibility for their own safety, it is the employer’s obligation to enforce it. Not only should each worker be conscious of their own personal safety, but also the safety of those around them. That being said, it is common courtesy to remind and encourage fellow construction workers to always wear their PPE.
According to OSHA.gov when it comes to work related injuries and deaths, falls are the most common cause. When working onsite, the team was informed that any construction worker who is standing on a 6 foot or higher platform must have a fall harness on in case of tripping, a tool malfunctioning, or falling into holes in the floor. General fall protection such as guard rails are required above 4 feet in general industry workplaces, 5 feet in shipyards, up to 6 feet in the construction industry, and 8 feet in longshoring operations. Any height that exceeds these levels or any elevated situation regarding dangerous equipment and machinery, regardless of height, requires fall harnesses in addition to guardrails.
Job Site Cleanliness
Maintaining a clean and organized job site at all times is just one way to prevent injury. Even something as small as a paint spill left unattended for a few minutes could mean a trip to the emergency room. There are two primary ways to maintain a safe construction site: 1. Eliminating debris, such as trash and unused materials. 2. Keeping tools and materials organized in a defined location. Tripping over things can be a hazard in a cluttered environment. By placing trash in trash bags, removing any unnecessary or scrap materials, and having an organized area for tools and equipment, workers can focus on the task at hand without worry of stumbling over a misplaced item.
Workers safety on construction sites is something that can tend to be overlooked when focusing on completing a project. However, the easy way is not always the right way. By taking the extra time and steps to ensure workers are properly protected is a practice that should always be applied during construction. Despite the project size, be it small or monumental, construction safety should be consistent across the board. For further information on construction safety, visit the Occupational Safety and Health Administration at www.osha.gov.
Written by Anna Groppoli