10 Safety Essentials for Your Construction Site Workforce
A good boss values their workforce and understands they are integral to the success of the business. If your employees work on a construction site you’ll also understand how important it is that they wear appropriate clothing and equipment – not just for their safety, but to ensure that your business doesn’t hit the headlines for the wrong reasons. You’re no doubt aware of the many potential dangers on a construction site – falling objects, slippery surfaces and so on. But are you making sure your employees are adequately protected from these hazards? According to Safe Work Australia, the construction industry has the third highest fatality rate in the country. Some of these fatalities were caused by workers not wearing the right safety gear. So read on for 10 items your employees shouldn’t be without.
It is vital that your employees can be seen when working in a hazardous environment. One in three fatal construction site accidents involve people being struck by moving vehicles, so providing hi-visibility and reflective jackets will mean the risk of these accidents are minimised.
Most eye injuries can be prevented by wearing appropriate eye protection, often being due to dust or airborne materials. This normally results from activities such as drilling stone and brickwork, cutting metals and cutting out bolts. When there is the potential for an eye injury workers should be provided with strong goggles, which can provide defence against medium impacts by means of their toughened glass design. Face shields also provide protection against impacts, liquids and splashes from molten metal. Some face shields integrate eye, head and respiratory protection.
What you may not realise is how damaging noise can be to your workers. If noise is continuous at a level of 85-90 decibels it can seriously impair hearing. Thankfully, earmuffs or ear plugs can provide proper protection. Such essential gear does not impede speech or any warning signals, but will reduce unwanted noise. Hearing protection should be regularly checked and maintained to ensure it remains effective.
On a construction site there is the potential for your workers to be struck by falling objects. Even a small bolt or tool which falls from 15m above your head can lead to serious injury or death if appropriate gear is not worn. Hard hats protect the head against these hazards and should be worn in clearly signposted hard hat areas. A standard hard hat will be reinforced on top, have a rain gutter around the sides and be comfortable.
There is always the potential for falls from scaffolds, ladders or access platforms on construction sites, so wearing a safety harness is vital for preventing serious injury or death. You must ensure that workers wear a safety belt or harness according to the requirements of the specific work being carried out. These must be able to withstand a persons’ weight and be attached to a sturdy supporting structure.
Harmful dust or gas can be found on sites due to activities such as paint spraying, sandblasting and rock crushing. If there are toxic substances in the environment then respiratory equipment must be worn, and disposable paper types will only be effective against nuisance dusts. Filters or dust masks are available for protection against dust or gas, or both.
Tough work boots
If foot injuries do occur on a construction site they tend to be either as a result of falling or sharp objects penetrating the sole of the foot. Tough work boots with a steel toe-cap and impenetrable soles are an essential item. The main types of safety footwear are rubber safety wellingtons for protection against chemicals, safety shoes for heavy-duty work and light shoes for jobs that require climbing.
This work wear should be provided in cases where your employees spend time in adverse weather conditions. Modern waterproof clothing allows for moisture to escape and will be light and usually hi-vis. By providing your site workers with such equipment you can ensure they are able to work in a range of weather conditions.
Construction workers’ hands are susceptible to damage on a daily basis when on site, with potential injuries ranging from abrasions and dislocations, to fractures and burns. But the proper form of hand protection can prevent such hazards. Hand protection like gloves and gauntlets should be worn when working with toxic or corrosive substances, pneumatic drills and jagged or sharp surfaces. This is a cheap but effective means of protection on any construction site.
This may not be an absolutely essential item but your personnel will thank you for it. Body warmers will help you to remain warm and enable your employees to work to high standards on cold days, still allowing for freedom of movement.
This guest post was written by Richard Keane from Krowmark, a UK based work wear provider.