Construction Safety Guidelines (refresh the basics)

Safety on the construction site might seem like common sense to someone who’s worked in the industry their entire career. Unfortunately, many best practices and procedures end up overlooked when they become familiar. Safety guidelines are an essential part of any construction project. What details belong on every expert-level construction safety plan?

Refresh the Basics

Safety is part of every activity on a construction site, and it should be at the forefront of everyone’s mind. Everybody needs a periodic refresher on the basics. It’s far too easy to get comfortable with the things that keep you safe on the job site and start taking them for granted. 

With safety guidelines, if you forget something, you or someone else could get hurt. Take the time to refresh yourself on the basics as often as you feel it’s necessary. You might be surprised what falls by the wayside when you follow the same routine every day.

Understanding Common Problem Areas

One straightforward way to create an expert-level set of safety guidelines is to understand where the most common problems lie. There are two separate categories to explore, though they may tend to overlap. Those are the 10 most common safety violations and the events have been dubbed the “Fatal Four.” The latter accounts for a large portion of on-the-job fatalities, especially in somewhat dangerous careers like construction. 

Fatal Four

According to statistics, there are upwards of 12 work-related fatalities in the United States every day. The Fatal Four account for a large portion of these deaths. 

  • Falls are responsible for 36% of workplace fatalities. 
  • Struck-by-object events lead to 10% of workplace fatalities.
  • Electrocutions cause 9% of workplace fatalities.
  • Caught in/between events are the reason for 2% of workplace fatalities.

Most Common Safety Violations

The top 10 most common safety violations include items related to the Fatal Four. As of 2017, the 10 most common violations were:

  1. Fall protection requirements, with 6,072 violations
  2. Hazard communication, with 4,176 violations
  3. Scaffolding, with 3,288 violations
  4. Respiratory protection, with 3,097 violations
  5. Lockout/tagout, with 2,877 violations
  6. Ladders, with 2,241 violations
  7. Powered industrial trucks, with 2,162 violations
  8. Machine guarding, with 1,922 violations
  9. Fall protection and training requirements, with 1,523 violations
  10. Electrical wiring methods, with 1,405 violations

Looking at these two lists makes it more evident where the significant risks are. It’s not an exhaustive list, but it gives you a good foundation for building a comprehensive set of safety guidelines for your job site.

Provide the Correct Safety Equipment

For the most part, the average construction worker will own all the necessary safety equipment to do their job beyond a pair of gloves and a hard hat. However, there’s no guarantee they’re maintaining it correctly and ensuring it is safe to use.

Fall harnesses and fall arrest equipment are one example. Many teams still rely on fall protection belts when working at heights, when full harnesses are safer and more effective. They might be more complicated, but they provide better protection and reduce the risk of injury or death in the event of a fall. 

Ensure your construction company is providing sufficient safety equipment, and test, maintain and replace it as needed to prevent accidents on the job site. 

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