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0 Comments | Jun 01, 2021

5 Safety Tips and Advice for Building Construction

Building construction is an industry that presents daily hazards to its workers. While this is part of the job that construction workers are aware of, it is very important that adequate safety measures are being taken to protect workers on their job sites. Construction workers’ well-being should be the number one priority of their employer, and safety equipment and protocol should be provided and enforced to keep workers safe. 

Below are several areas where safety measures are necessary, as well as some tips on how to keep workers safe in these areas. 

1. Fire Protection

Any construction job working with chemicals, high heat, or flammable materials requires protection from fire and burns to be worn and/or readily available. An example of this type of job is torch-down roofing. This type of roofing comes in rolls and is installed in overlapping layers. The layers are melted together using a torch or open flame. 

When completing jobs with flammable materials and open flames, it is important that job sites remain in compliance with OSHA and ANSI guidelines. To do this, job sites should display proper signage notifying individuals of nearby combustibles. 

At this type of job, workers must have passive fire protection and wear the proper protective equipment to prevent burns and other injuries. Also, a fire extinguisher should be kept nearby as a preventative measure to keep the job site safe, and visible signage should be displayed to alert personnel of the location of nearby fire extinguishers. 

2. PPE (Personal Protective Equipment) 

Image courtesy of Roper Roofing and Solar

The first thing that probably comes to mind when you hear the term “PPE” are masks and gloves. However, personal protective equipment encompasses much more than these things. It is any equipment worn by workers to minimize the risk of injuries and illnesses in the workplace. 

This can include hard hats, steel-toed shoes, and reflective vests. If you are using dangerous power tools, you should wear protective gloves and goggles, and ear protection. If you are doing heavy lifting, a back brace should be worn. Non-skid shoes should be worn in areas with slippery floors. These are all examples of adequate PPE to reduce the risk of injury on the job. 

When PPE is required in certain areas of a job site, such as a hard hat zone, job sites must display visible and easily noticeable signage to alert workers and personnel of these requirements. 

3. Respiratory Protection 

Many construction jobs will generate dust and air pollution that can cause damage to your lungs if inhaled. The catch when it comes to respiratory hazards is that symptoms do not arise immediately. So, even if you don’t think you need to wear a mask or other respiratory protection, you could be causing significant long-term damage to your lungs and airways. 

An example of a construction or renovation job that will require respiratory protection is installing a polished concrete floor. The first step in this process is to grind the floor using a floor buffer or angle grinder. This will create dust particles in the air that may contain toxic materials. So, it is very important to wear a respirator mask, such as an n95 mask, and safety glasses that will protect your eyes. 

4. Fall Protection

When completing a construction job that requires climbing tall buildings or working from tall heights, such as installing roofing or flat roof insulation, significant safety precautions should be put in place. 

First, workers should do as much work as possible on the ground before completing work from heights. Additionally, workers that are going to be working at tall heights should go through fall prevention training to reduce risk. 

Planning ahead by informing workers of the risks and providing them with the recommended safety equipment, such as safety harnesses, is very important. Additionally, if scaffolding is required for a job, this should also be planned in advance and only workers with the proper training should work on scaffolds. 

Fall protection signage should also be displayed to prevent anyone except authorized personnel from entering locations with higher fall risks. These signs can also notify individuals of equipment or PPE that must be worn in certain areas, such as harnesses.

Ladders can also be dangerous to work from if they are not used properly. To prevent falls from ladders on job sites, it is important workers inspect ladders before they are used to make sure that they will be secure. Additionally, you should always use ladders as directed by the safety labeling, and never use a ladder on terrain that is not solid and valid. Using ladders on unstable ground, such as gravel, creates a high risk of accidents and injuries. 

5. Crowded Work Areas

An area of risk that might not often be considered is crowded work areas. If a worker is operating a large piece of equipment, other workers should stay clear of the area, rather than crowding around. This is protocol that should be enforced by foremen on the job, and communicated during training and planning meetings. 

Minimizing this type of risk takes teamwork as well as personal responsibility. Workers operating large equipment should remain aware of their surroundings by working, such as looking behind them before backing up. However, workers on the ground should also remain aware of their surroundings, steering clear of large equipment, crowded areas, and other work areas that could be dangerous. 

To promote a safe work environment at all times, signage, such as “men working above” signs, should be displayed to prevent crowds of personnel from forming in dangerous areas where debris and other objects may fall and cause injury. 

Construction Safety is a Must

While building construction can present daily hazards to its workers, executing proper planning and providing workers with adequate training and equipment will reduce the risk of injuries. This will protect the well-being of workers, as well as the company as a whole. Investing time and money into safety measures should be a top priority for building construction employers and companies.

Todd Gillman is the content director for the Innovative Building Materials blog and a content writer for the building materials industry. He is focused on helping fellow homeowners, contractors, and architects discover materials and methods of construction that save money, improve energy efficiency, and increase property value.