There are a number of specific dangers linked to construction sites; the major hazard is falls from high places, although there are significantly more hazards, including those related to scaffolds, confined spaces, and electric equipments and lines near water sources. Construction workers often put their health at risk as well, with the materials they use and handle, such as lead. The irony is that the protective equipment worn by construction workers to reduce their exposure to lead and other toxic substances can actually increase accidental incidents by reducing vision, clarity, hearing ability, and dexterity, and increasing heat stress.
Even the safety of non-workers in and around construction sites is put at risk—particularly for drivers making their way past road construction sites who can come into contact with barricades and safety signs, causing accidents and injuries.
How can accidents in construction sites be prevented and thus reduced? In the U. S. , safety and health standards in the workplace—including construction—are put in place and enforced through the Occupational Safety & Health Administration (OSHA). Accidents are almost always caused by either unsafe acts or unsafe conditions, so it stands to reason that the best way to prevent and reduce accidents is by attempting to eliminate unsafe conditions and unsafe acts.
Eliminating unsafe conditions begins with a general understanding of what types of conditions can cause an accident, and then removing those conditions. Learning that workers are more at risk for accidents when unprotected and then making sure all construction workers are wearing the necessary protective equipment and gear is an example of becoming aware of an unsafe condition and then working to remove that condition.
Accidents are also caused by workers themselves acting in unsafe ways. Construction workers can help reduce the number of accidents and injuries that occur onsite by working carefully and safely, doing the job right, acting alert, and by being conscious of the particular environment and conditions in which they are working. A construction company can help in this manner by making safety awareness and training a mandatory part of the job both as part of the hiring process as well as on an ongoing basis. If there are safety manuals for certain construction jobs or equipment, have them serve as required reading for all staff.
Construction safety essentially boils down to accident prevention and reduction, and this is best accomplished when construction workers—both as a team and individually—act proactively rather than reactively. Reactive workers only take action in response to a problem as (or after) they occur, whereas proactive workers can anticipate crises and potential accidents before they happen, and then take the appropriate steps to prevent them from happening in the first place.
Always strive to have proactive construction workers and teams. Make every effort to eliminate unsafe working conditions and decreasing unsafe acts to work toward safer construction site environments for everybody involved. Always have a Health & Safety Plan onsite. This HASP can help you comply with OSHA's rules and keep you from having headaches later on.