The health and safety of personnel are the most important considerations in any workplace. Particularly when it comes to construction sites. In Australia, construction sites are the third-highest fatality industry, with Safe Work Australia reporting 21 fatalities in 2020. As busy environments with the potential for serious hazards, managers must ensure there is adequate consultation, cooperation and coordination of everyone that steps foot on site.
The priority at every responsible construction site should therefore be creating and maintaining a safe work environment. As the expert in dry hire, Ryno Hire understands the risks and safety precautions necessary, and has constructed a checklist every manager can follow to ensure their staff are provided with the tools and information to keep them safe.
Why is Construction Site Safety Important?
Work on a construction site is turbulent, where the state of the environment’s safety can change at any given moment. But with diligent management of construction sites, work-related injuries can be minimised to prevent an array of physical and mental injuries as well as fatalities. Besides avoiding injuries and keeping your employees safe, there are a host of other reasons why prioritising workplace safety benefits everyone in the long run.
1. Construction site safety protects the public
It may go under the radar and be forgotten about, but workplace safety on construction sites is also paramount to keeping the public safe. It is common for construction sites to be located in busy areas. After all, it’s probably a common occurrence that you see at least one construction project undergoing just on your way to work each day.
With construction happening so close to the public, accidents can happen. Objects may fall, or chemicals can leak affecting innocent bystanders who have no connection to the construction site if safety precautions aren’t adhered to. Everyone wants their family members to return home safely each day, so managers at construction sites must enforce strict safety protocols to keep everyone safe.
2. Reducing injuries promotes a happier work culture
Whilst the most obvious reason, we had to reiterate this point to hone the importance of keeping your staff safe. Although employees are aware of the chances for injury, mental health issues and illness involved in their industry, construction workers still want to go to work without being seriously injured or worse. With the proper safety measures and training provided, the risks can greatly be minimised. With adequate support, employees are more likely to be happier in their roles, increase morale and as a result, perform better and improve productivity.
3. Minimises company losses
Anytime an accident happens, projects are halted and investigation is required. Staff members who also witnessed the accident may require additional support. Injuries and fatalities, therefore, have a trickle effect and impact more than the person caught in the crossfire. These accidents also delay completion and increase the cost of projects. If equipment is damaged during the accident, the business will also have to cover any replacements.
Now onto the positives! With health and safety policies prioritised, businesses can expect more productive working hours, better profitability and satisfied clients. Businesses known for their responsible practices are more favourably viewed, and develop a positive reputation. Not only can this retain current employees, but you can also attract more qualified staff and draw in new additional clients. Whilst personnel damages are usually paid for by WorkCover Queensland, bystander injuries are more likely to involve a lawsuit, further increasing overheads. When managers strive to keep their construction site safe, all of these risks are reduced, and you can become more productive and prosperous in the outcome.
Steps to Creating and Maintaining a Safe Workplace
1. Prioritise safety within the company
The perfect place to start installing a safe workplace is by emphasising safe practices daily. Facilitating a construction site with a focus on employee safety standards should always be a priority, rather than prioritising profits or production timelines. Companies who have prioritised profits rather than the safety for construction workers all face the same fate. Expensive lawsuits and project delays.
Managers need to remember, employees are the most valuable and core asset of the company, and need to safeguard their health and safety at work at all times. When safety is prioritised, profits will follow regardless. To make sure you maintain safety compliance it’s important to stay up to date with industry codes of practice, publications, staff training and practices that put safety first.
2. Identify potential hazards
Keeping an eye out for potential risks is the most effective tool in preventing accidents and injuries from occurring. To point you in the right direction, the most common hazards on a construction site to watch out for include:
- The equipment: Heavy equipment and tools that are capable of serious injury. Don’t forget substances and chemicals.
- The environment: Noisy working environments are a serious threat to our hearing. 37% of reported hearing is noise-induced, with workplace and recreational noise being the primary culprits. The good news is it’s also one of the most preventable with the right education, training and safety equipment.
3. Minimise risks
One of the easiest strategies to minimise risks is by reducing the introduction of potential hazards in the first place. Sometimes workers will be required to work with hazardous machinery and chemicals, but the risks can always be minimised by
- Performing a risk assessment to evaluate how risky the role is.
- Routinely checking equipment to prevent faulty equipment from causing harm. Make sure to periodically review tools and equipment used to make sure they are still the safest choice for the job.
- Create a safety plan to prepare your employees for the chance of an accident. Some of the things that should be outlined in the plan are a list of personal protective equipment, what to do and who to call if an accident occurs.
- Reevaluate if the safety measures you have in place work.
- Record and report safety issues to better learn how these can be avoided again in the future.
- Clear signage can be incredibly helpful in warning or notifying workers where hazardous tasks are being performed. Create visual safety messages to communicate this to staff and worksite visitors. Colour codes, OSHA posters and signs are effective in warning employees of these hazards.
If risks still exist, using safe work procedures, training and supervision of your workers are all-sufficient safety measures that can work towards decreasing the dangers involved
4. Ensure your employees are adequately trained
Adequate training is the key to preventing injury. Well trained staff are less likely to get injured, so focus on adhering to OHS standards by providing safety training to all construction workers. You may have staff members whose first language isn’t English, so you must provide all workers with the training in the language they can understand.
Who should receive the training? Besides all new workers, refresher courses should be offered for existing workers as well when an employee’s role changes within the company. If you’re unsure where to start, construction managers can provide courses that include all the vital safety training modules from OHS.
5. Provide safety equipment
Whenever a staff member is handling dangerous equipment, they must be equipped with the correct safety gear. This goes hand in hand with raising awareness on the importance of complying with the proper handling of hazardous materials and the importance of wearing protective equipment. The most common safety equipment provided to staff are:
- Helmets: These should be supplied to everyone who steps foot on a construction site, and are to be worn at all times.
- Visibility vests: These brightly coloured vests are vital to spotting one another on the construction site.
- Gloves and boots: These pieces of equipment are vital in protecting the hands and feet of your staff. Without them, your staff are more likely to encounter cuts, grazes and potentially fractured or broken feet. Boots are also anti-slip, which works to combat the 23% of serious claims that are caused by slips and falls.
Without them, workers could be missed, especially during construction that is undergoing at night.
Being a responsible construction site manager is a full-time job, but when adhered to, it pays off. Not only are your staff kept safe and happy, but your company is more likely to reap the benefits, client satisfaction and a positive reputation! It’s a win-win situation for everyone. If you are looking to dry hire equipment to complete your next project, Ryno Hire is your go-to expert for all things construction.
You can talk to our team of professionals about your project, what equipment to hire or the process of equipment repair by contacting us online or calling (07) 3353 2230. If you are an avid DIYer, our blog is the go-to resource for at-home upgrades.