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CONSTRUCTION

Construction spending in the United States topped $1.23 trillion in 2017 with nearly 11.2 million people employed in the construction sector in 2018, according to Statistica. With an ever-growing industry and a significant percentage of those employees completing hands-on infrastructure building, the risks involved become greater as well. Not only does the industry have a responsibility to make construction sites as safe as possible, but they also must comply with the vast set of Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) requirements to stay in business. 

Risk prevention is an important aspect of the construction industry. And it’s not just big construction sites that need to take care; the CDC writes that nearly half of all deaths on construction sites occur in companies with ten or fewer employees. Here we’ll discuss the most common construction hazards and the top 5 preventative measures  construction sites can take to minimize risks to its employees.

Most Common Dangers in the Construction Industry

Just a few of the potential dangers involved in construction include moving objects, working at great heights, falls, material handling, extremely loud noise, and asbestos. Though injuries have reduced drastically in the construction industry over the last 40 years, there is still work to be done. 

The Bureau of Labor and Statistics writes that 5,333 construction workers died on the job in 2019 (or an average of 15 deaths per day). To avoid injuries and fatalities, it’s imperative that construction sites stay in 100% compliance with OSHA regulations

Violations of these regulations not only lead to citations, increased costs and project timeline setbacks, but more importantly they put workers at risk. 

Some of the most common reasons injuries and death occur in the construction industry are due to falls, electrocution, being struck by objects or vehicles, and being caught between objects.

Prevention is key to avoiding these common risks. Read on to find out the five ways construction companies can help prevent hazards that could lead to injuries or fatalities.

Best practices for prevention include:

  1. Utilizing Proper Fall Protection
  2. Keeping a Clean and Hazard-Free Construction Zone
  3. Providing Personal Protective Equipment
  4. Properly Training Workers to Follow Safety Standards
  5. Having Proper Communication in Place

5 Ways to Avoid Construction Hazards

Here we outline the top ways that construction companies (or those self-employed) can ensure a safe working environment.

This is not an exhaustive list and should not intended to be a substitute for following all OSHA requirements. You must follow those to be in compliance. Additionally, you can request a confidential, no-cost OSHA safety and health consultation to create a hazard-free workplace.

1.) Utilize Proper Fall Protection

Falling from high places accounts for most construction injuries and deaths. And according to the OSHA booklet “Falling Off Ladders Can Kill: Use Them Safely,” falls are the leading cause of death in construction and every year falls from ladders make up nearly a third of those deaths.

The rest of the falls that occur are usually associated with wall openings, holes in the floor, scaffolding, roofs or open edges. 

To prevent these falls, it’s important that construction sites have proper fall protection in place. 

Some best practices for fall prevention include:

  • Install guardrails.
  • Follow safe scaffolding guidelines.
  • Avoid using a ladder if you’ll need to hold heavy items while on it, it won’t be stabilized, if you’ll be working at that height for a long period, or if you’d need to stand on the ladder sideways.
  • Consider using personal fall arrest systems for roof workers and provide a harness for each worker who needs to tie off to an anchor. 
  • Choose the right equipment for the job. Whether that’s beamers, retractables, rope-grabs, butterfly anchors, etc. the most important thing is that the equipment chosen aligns with the task for keeping workers safe.
  • Remove anything that may lead to a slip or trip.
  • Keep areas with holes off limits and cover unprotected edges.

2.) Keep a Clean, Hazard-Free Construction Zone

On-site construction managers have an obligation to keep construction zones safe for their workers. This means a sweep of the area to look for any debris or hazard that might impede someone from doing their job safely. Here is how to keep a hazard-free construction zone:

  • Keep all walkways free of messes, spills, debris or cords. Anything that could cause someone to trip and fall need to be removed.
  • Store large materials properly. Out-of-the way areas should be designated for storing tools and materials until they are needed. Anything that could fall should be laid flat or secured appropriately.
  • Remove any protruding nails.
  • Have containers ready for the disposal of waste material.
  • Scan the site regularly for cleanliness or to tidy up anything that looks out of place.
  • Use signage to keep unauthorized personnel out of specific work zones.
  • Keep specific equipment away from other materials that could start a fire or put someone at risk of electrocution.

3.) Provide Personal Protective Equipment

The purpose of personal protective equipment in the construction industry is to minimize hazardous risks such those associated with chemicals, electricity, machine use, loud noise, falling debris, etc. It is imperative that construction workers are provided with proper protective equipment for the job they will be performing. 

Some of the most used PPE that should be readily available include:

  • Gloves
  • Safety Glasses
  • Steel-toed boots and/or Slip-Resistant Shoes
  • Earplugs/Earmuffs
  • Hard Hats
  • Respirators
  • Full Body Suits

Not only should this PPE be on-site and ready to go, but workers also need to be trained on how to use each item properly and know under what circumstances which type needs to be used. Consult OSHA’s publications on personal protective equipment for specific details.

4.) Train Workers and Reinforce Safety Standards 

No matter how big or small a construction company is, it’s important that every person is committed to following proper safety practices and holding others accountable to those protocols as well. 

This starts from the top in showing that a safe working environment is of utmost importance. Safety training should be implemented to educate workers on how to avoid dangerous situations, keep areas clean, and how to effectively use PPE to stay safe. 

Over time, it’s important that construction managers and workers never get complacent and continue to monitor that safety standards are being implemented at all times.

More about training requirements and resources can be found here, as well as a voluntary outreach training program provided by OSHA that provides additional training for workers and employers as an extra layer of understanding of how to keep construction environments as safe as possible.

5.) Have Proper Communication in Place

One of the most important parts of maintaining a hazard-free construction environment is effective communication. This construction industry case study shares how communication plays a vital role in a construction project getting done correctly and safely with the expected timeframe. 

Two-way radios are essential for effective communication in collaborative work such as construction. However, many construction sites are out of cellular range. In this case, it’s imperative that workers have access to satellite devices to stay in contact. A satellite phone with push-to-talk capability is ideal and some sites may need a device that provides satellite internet, as well. 

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Best Satellite Devices For Construction

ICOM IC-SAT100M

The IC-SAT100M is a dedicated push-to-talk (PTT) radio. This fixed-mount solution gives users only what they need and nothing that they don’t. Construction teams can be anywhere on the planet, even in the most remote areas of the world and can communicate with each other with the push of a button.

  • Rugged design with IP67 waterproofing and dust tight protection; main unit – IP54; Mic – IP55
  • Completely functional indoors with power supply capability via Ethernet from main unit to antenna
  • CAT5e accepts up to a 100-meter cable connection maintaining reliable communication
  • Voice recording
  • Built-in Bluetooth capability
icsat100
device-collage

ICOM IC-SAT100 PTT

The IC-SAT100 is the handheld PTT solution. It provides a true land mobile radio experience with an IP67-rated durable housing, large front-ported speaker for loud audio, a top mounted on/off volume selector, talk group selector for “no-look” operation, and a field replaceable antenna. The ability to setup talk groups can be an essential part of keeping teams of construction workers safe in the field.

  • One-to-Many Communications
  • Wide Area Global Communications
  • Real-Time, Low-Latency Communication
  • Built-in Emergency Key
  • Waterproof, Dust-tight and Durable Body
  • 1500 mW Powerful Audio
  • Long-Lasting Battery Life

Thales MissionLink:

Thales MissionLink is a global leader in satellite communications systems and technology. This commercialized, military-grade design is small enough to fit in a backpack, but is perfect for providing reliable voice, text and web communications for out-of-range construction sites.

  • Ruggedized android tethered handset
  • Rack or hull mounted installation
  • IP67 rated single cable antenna
  • 4G LTE ready, softphone application
Thales MissionLINK
Iridium 9555 Satellite Phone front

Iridium 9555 Kit:

The Iridium 9555 is the ultimate go-to satellite phone for all campers. If you are looking for a satellite phone for your basic talk and text needs.

  • Water-tight Hardcase
  • 2 Fully Charged Batteries
  • 12V Charger
  • Magnetic Antenna Mount
  • Wall Charger
  • International Adapters
  • Quick Cheat Sheet Guide

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