HEALTH AND SAFETY IN CONSTRUCTION
Guest post by Amy Usher, Don Valley Engineering
A recent report revealed that there are over 53 million lone workers in Canada, the US and Europe. When working alone in remote areas or on the late-night shift with few others around, the risk of not receiving help in the event of an incident is heightened. In instances, such as an injury, a heart attack or the presence of toxic gas, every second counts when it comes to response time.
Construction sites are high risk working environments. Employees are expected to work at great heights with heavy machinery and potentially dangerous building materials. It’s crucial that health and safety regulations are closely followed to reduce the chance of injury and protect the lives of workers.
Here are a few areas to consider when protecting personnel in the construction industry.
CONNECTED SAFETY MONITORING IS KEY
The first step in maintaining safety in the workplace is prevention. But accidents are inevitable, so it is vital to have a plan in place should something happen. Blackline Safety’s new G7 device works by automatically alerting monitoring personnel with location and situational context when something happens to empower your team with the quickest possible emergency response. The system uses advanced automatic and manual alerting features to detect if a person is motionless or has fallen, has missed a check-in or is in an unsafe environment with gas detection. The alert is sent to monitoring personnel who can contact the device through two-way voice calling and text messaging.
In the event of an emergency situation, our 24/7 in-house Safety Operations Center manages the incident according to your pre-determined response protocol that’s customized to your work environment. If a construction worker is injured on the 24th floor of a site, Blackline will dispatch the closest employee to the injured worker and immediately escalate to EMS accordingly.
Blackline’s products are efficient and affordable. The check-in system and two-way texting and calling eliminate the need for a buddy system, and the worker can always call for help with the simple pull of a latch.
ENSURE THAT SCAFFOLDING IS SECURELY INSTALLED
On a construction site, workers are commonly expected to work at great heights. Qualified inspectors should regularly inspect scaffolding to see that it’s stable and safe, as pieces can be moved and broken with rough wear. In fact, OSAH requires that scaffolding be inspected before each shift. Workers should also wear safety harnesses in addition to an alternative fall arrest system when working at high levels. The Ontario Ministry of Labour offers a helpful guideline to prevent falls on construction projects. Make sure you check on your local safety regulations for any specifics that pertain to your region.
PROPERLY TRAIN ALL EMPLOYEES
Heavy machinery such as belt feeders, flat deck screens, vibrating centrifuges and elevators, to name a few, can cause serious harm when improperly used. All staff should be rigorously trained with annual reassessments to ensure the continued proper use of equipment.
Proper training of personnel is your business’ responsibility. Without proper training and if the worst occurs, you leave your business open to legal troubles. Generally, such responsibility is covered by a ‘duty of care’ regulation. In the United States, OSHA offers a helpful summary of employer responsibilities. In the United Kingdom, the Health and Safety at Work etc. Act 1974 establishes a duty of care upon the employer for the employee.
DON’T JUST USE PPE CLOTHING– EQUIP YOUR TEAMS WITH THE RIGHT PPE
PPE (Personal Protective Equipment) is designed to protect and endure in rough work environments, and appropriate pieces should always be worn. It may seem trivial to mention but hardhats and steel-toe-capped boots are required to be worn on construction sites for good reason. So-called steel-toe boots can offer a much more comprehensive level of protection than just for toes. CSA standard Z195 footwear is designed with not only a toe protector but also a steel plate for metatarsal (foot bone) protection plus electrical shock and chainsaw protection.
When working with loud noises or dangerous materials, ear protectors and goggles are also crucial. Noise regulations from OSHA provide employers with the guidelines regarding exposure for different periods of time. Hearing conservation is an important topic for everyone at a job site. Employees working in environments with as little as 90 dBA of continuous noise must use hearing protection if they are working for more than eight hours at a time.
High visibility vests and clothing significantly increases the visibility of workers on-site when dangerous equipment, road work or late nights come into play. They are not just a smart idea allowing others to see personnel, the high visibility clothing is actually a requirement in certain construction situations. EHS Today reports that for the United States, OSHA mandates high visibility vests in road construction and not just the flaggers.
To help maintain health and safety, construction managers should regularly check workers are wearing the correct gear and establish a standard that not wearing PPE is unacceptable. Each item of PPE should be considered in context of the work being performed. What PPE features and classifications are required to address the hazards on your jobsite? That’s for you to determine and in fact, that’s your responsibility, even if your team purchases their own clothing and footwear.
ABOUT DON VALLEY ENGINEERING
Don Valley Engineering was established in 1947. They design and manufacture a diverse range of plant for the quarrying, mining, malting, steel, mineral processing and bulk material handling industries. They also supply and install a range of machinery including screens, vibrating feeders, belt feeders and wedge wire products.