Working in the field of construction is, by its nature, a risky job. There’s heavy equipment, electrified wires, and manual labor. And while it’s a lot safer today than it was decades ago, there are still lots of improvements to be made to avoid injuries in construction.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, construction is one of the highest-ranking industries in terms of fatal occupational injuries, with a total of 10.1 deaths per 100,000 employees in 2015. However, this number has been shrinking over the past 20 years and it’s all due to progress in the on-site safety department.
There have been many changes and improvements in on-site safety measures—ones that can help you run a safer job site, both for yourself and your employees. Here are five of the best actions to take that will prevent—or at least diminish—injuries and accidents among workers.
1. Get your workers the latest gear
To maintain adequate safety on a construction site, workers need to be equipped with the latest gear and work clothes. A few decades ago this involved nothing more than a helmet, vest, and an ordinary pair of boots, but things have changed quite a bit since then.
A lot of manufacturers now make sturdy work clothes, high-performing work boots, and secure helmets, and protective equipment that help those located on-site avoid injuries and serious accidents.
For example, some of the latest work boots have impact protection over the entire foot area, as well as a steel plate to prevent penetration through the sole. There are also “smart helmets” that uses special lenses and augmented reality to provide a heads-up display for workers that can warn them of potential hazards.
Bottom line: For a small investment, you can avoid potentially costly injuries, both for you and your crew.
2. Invest in a drone
Drones are the hot new technology in construction, but can they really help with safety? Absolutely.
In addition to increasing efficiency on construction sites and assisting with mapping and data analysis, they can also help survey and monitor ongoing activity. Besides assessing progress and structure, a drone can help supervisors periodically check to see if standards and regulations are met.
This is time-effective and money-saving because it eliminates the need for in-person inspections. Furthermore, on the off chance that something does happen, these nifty little gadgets can alert the person in charge immediately and keep the incident from becoming more serious.
Bottom line: Drones can not only monitor construction sites for safety hazards, but they are also capable of going places where it would be dangerous for a human to go, such as tight spaces or high above unfinished and unstable construction.
3. Download a safety app
Apps nowadays cover just about any field you can think of—including construction. This means that you can address safety issues simply by using your smartphone.
Today’s construction apps tend to focus on things such as bidding, 3D models (also known as Building Information Modeling or BIM), and even making a cloud group with your fellow workers in order to keep everyone updated on revisions and changes, some can help ensure worker safety as well.
For example, the FallSafety app is built specifically for workers who operate at dangerous heights and are at a high risk of injury. The software can detect a fall and sound an alarm.
Another app, iAuditor, also focuses on the safety of workers in a different way: by making sure procedures are in place so that workers don’t get in unacceptably dangerous situations to begin with.
Bottom line: Apps make it easier to monitor the safety of workers, and ensure that your work site is a safe place to begin with.
4. Make sure you are compliant with safety regulations
While regulations can be a pain sometimes, we all understand that they are an important measure to avoid professional accidents—or, at the very least, to avoid fines and lawsuits.
So it’s vital that you stay up to date with the latest laws and rules surrounding the workplace.
These regulations have a practical effect on your business. New standards from the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) released in 2017 allow construction managers more flexibility in choosing between fall protection systems suitable for works.
OSHA also established a safe distance of six feet for employees working on an unprotected roof edge, when previously there had been no set safe distance. This means that you’ll now have to use a conventional fall protection system if they are less than six feet from the roof’s edge.
Bottom line: Staying up to date on the latest safety regulations will protect not only workers, but your business from fines and lawsuits.
5. Invest in first aid
When construction accidents do happen, you’ve got to be ready with the proper first aid. By law, businesses are required to provide workers with a minimal first aid kit containing some bare necessities. However, it’s wise to go above and beyond when you’re talking about the safety of your workers.
If you have the same first aid kit that was available decades ago, it’s time to upgrade.
Bottom line: A good first aid kit can be the difference between life and death for your workers.
How do you keep your workers safe?
While the construction industry can’t provide fully risk-free jobs, improvements in the modern era have lowered the risk of injury tremendously. Not only are employees equipped with better, more reliable equipment, but advanced tech such as drones and apps make the job much safer for everyone involved.
Furthermore, companies in the business are more serious about enforcing adequate procedures and regulations, and they provide their staff with better first aid and health insurance options. Workers who were nervous about getting involved in construction before should be assured that it’s safer than ever to be employed in this industry.
As a construction manager, what do you do to make sure your employees are safe? Do you find that technology does a better job of enhancing safety, or is it just having the right procedures—or a little of both? What tips do you have for other construction managers? Let us know in the comments below.