Yesterday, I read an article which provided several basic construction safety tips. The author begins by citing the Construction Industry Cost Effectiveness Project’s estimate that approximately $8.9 billion dollars are spent each year in the U.S. as a result of accidents at construction sites. I have not studied those numbers. So, I cannot question their accuracy. However, most accident cost evaluations I have reviewed far underestimate the actual costs for several reasons. These include the fact that many injuries go unreported. Also, most cost estimates do not consider many of the huge costs that families dealing with significant injury and disability face.
The author then provides his 7 tips for construction site safety. They are:
- Review OSHA (Occupational Safety and Health Administration) safety procedures.
- Be aware of your surroundings.
- Use proper equipment.
- Lift safely.
- Enter and exit heavy equipment properly.
- Use safety when loading and unloading equipment.
- Test the strength of support structures.
These are excellent tips. They certainly should be followed on every construction site. However, I always go back to what I believe should be the essential requirement number 1 on every project. What is that requirement? It is a JOB HAZARD ANALYSIS. When a job begins (and before each new phase), management should conduct a job hazard analysis. This is a process that should look at all the activities and equipment involved with that phase of construction so that the entire process can be evaluated for safety. Management should include the workers in the process. After all, they will actually be performing the activities. When this analysis is completed, everyone on the project will have a clear view of what will be done and how it will be done safely. Sadly, management is often unwilling to devote even the small amount of time needed for this process. I believe the quickest way to eliminate disabling injuries is to plan for safety well before any worker faces the pressures of the actual work.
by Jeff Blackwell