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Date PostedJanuary 22, 2013

Attention Construction Workers: Be Prepared for Most Common Hazards on Building Sites

A construction site is one of the most dangerous places to work which is why safety is such an important issue to construction workers. Hazards such as open holes, machinery, tools, equipment and negligent attitudes can cause serious injury or worse, death if safety is not the number one priority. This is why it is important for those working on or visiting a construction site to be aware of what common hazards are andhow to eliminate or minimise the risk of injuries.

Falls

Slips, trips and falls make up a large percentage of all construction site injuries, especially on housing construction sites, as statistics show. They also account for the largest number of deaths on construction sites which is why they warrant special attention and care from both employers and workers. The safety of scaffolding, walkways, ladders and mobile platforms are extremely important. Good housekeeping is also important because untidy areas are extremely hazardous, as building materials or left over waste or debris can cause trips and falls. To avoid potential falls or injuries from them, workers should always use personal fall arrest equipment and maintain proper perimeter protection. Openings should also always be clearly labelled and covered.

falls1

Example of a Fall Arrest System

Diagram Source: http://www.elcosh.org/document/1572/d000145/Falls%2B%253A%2BThe%2BNumber%2BOne%2BCause%2Bof%2BConstruction%2BDeaths.html

Exposure

Construction sites are filled with many materials that are hazardous to workers’ health. Materials such as fiberglass, ceramic and wood dust present a hazard to worker health under certain conditions. Recently there have been some concerns that synthetic products may have similar health effects as asbestos. Although there are still questions around these concerns, workers should rather err on the side of caution and wear proper protective gear when working with these materials to prevent inhalation.

Some non-synthetic products such as wood dust can also cause health problems by getting caught in the worker’s nasal passage and irritating the eyes, throat and lungs. Workers should also be careful while working with chemicals, as they can be inhaled through vapour or absorbed through the skin.

Construction workers may also be exposed to sewage spills which have the potential to cause illness from infectious bacteria and disease.

Fires and Electrocutions

Fires are always a risk on construction sites because of the materials and work processes, which is why flammable materials should be dealt with special care. Electrocutions are also common due to the large number of machinery that is used which is why machinery and equipment should be properly maintained and serviced. Faulty equipment should be tagged and set aside from use until repaired. Portable electric tools should always be grounded or double insulated, while generators to supply power to such equipment and the voltage that is being supplied should always be closely monitored.

Noise

Construction is noisy because of the equipment, machinery, materials and loud work processes which mean that workers should always protect their ears with personal protective equipment such as ear plugs when on site. Overexposure to high decibels of noise can cause permanent damage to the ear drum. It is also vital that site managers monitor the noise levels on site and attempt to reduce the noise produced as much as possible. They can do this by sequencing the order of machinery operations so not all equipment is running at the same time.

hearing PPE

Construction sites are noisy, employers must provide PPE to protect workers from noise and other hazards.

Photo Source: http://www.extension.org/pages/62258/hearing-loss-and-protection-for-agricultural-producers

Peter Cutforth is a Director at Urban E-Learning, a global elearning and web strategy firm based in George St Brisbane. Peter's interests extend to training, safety and compliance, online marketing, and Mobile Apps.

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