The safety of every worker on a job site should be a key concern for a supervisor as important as getting the job done correctly, on time and on budget. But with so many risk factors at any site it's not just supervisors who need to be aware of them – technicians and labourers do too.
Because workers' health and safety needs to be a top concern, proper information and training for every job is crucial. Here are 10 of the most common hazards seen on job sites, though each unique project will likely bring other risks to account for.
Many job sites will have at least some aspect that requires professionals to work several metres or more in the air. Even small heights can be dangerous in certain situations. Using proper safety equipment, like harnesses, is a must, and so is effective training for every technician who will be working at height. This will help you not only understand the risks you may face, but also recognise when equipment isn't in good shape or hazards may be developing.
Even if you aren't working at height, slipping and falling – or tripping over an object left on the ground – can lead to more serious injuries than you may think. It's vital for everyone on a job site to collaborate and ensure every area is kept tidy, with little to no debris on the ground that could trip someone up. This is a relatively easy task when everyone takes responsibility.
3. Electrical hazards
Any time you're working with electrical wires, there's a shock risk. Even low voltage shocks can be dangerous and training for how to deal with them is vital. Even a small mistake around potential electrical hazards can lead to a shock, so even people who aren't going to work with wiring of any kind should receive proper training.
And don't forget the electrical risk posed by the extension cords that often run all over the job site.
4. Improperly built structures
If your job site has scaffolding or trenches for labourers to work in, they must be inspected before every use not only after they're first built. After all, wear and tear and natural elements may weaken parts of these structures and increase safety risks.
General rules about how strong scaffolding must be and the best accessory equipment to install them must be followed. Scaffolding should be able to support about four times the weight of the load it's intended to bear. Guardrails and toe boards are two of the most important accessories.
5. Lack of effective protective gear
While many workers may wear safety gloves, goggles, heavy-duty footwear, hard hats and more on the job site, supervisors have to make sure all that equipment is in good shape. If not, replacements must be readily available to ensure no one is working without the proper protection for the job. It's also important to stress that workers wear all relevant gear no matter how simple they may think their next task is. Even one incident without proper protection can lead to a serious accident.
6. Improper use of tools
It's also vital for supervisors to ensure everyone is effectively trained and certified to use the equipment they will be operating on the job site. Here, too, even a minor mistake can lead to a big safety or health risk, so everyone who's using equipment from power tools to heavy machinery needs to be up to speed on best practices.
7. Repetitive motion injuries
This issue doesn't arise due to a single mistake or accident, but just from the work some labourers have to undertake over the course of days or weeks. Nonetheless, it's something to watch out for. Supervisors should strive to create a culture of accountability around reporting when they feel an issue with their knee, back, wrist or elbow. Simply getting the problem checked out may help ensure there are no workplace injuries of this type.
Heavy machinery like bulldozers, forklifts and other vehicles on job sites, can collide with people, structures, fences or other hazards. That can increase injury risk considerably, so it's vital that everyone is extra vigilant when these vehicles are in use. Anyone operating these vehicles must also have the required training and certification.
9. Falling and moving objects
When people work at heights and use heavy machinery like cranes to manoeuvre heavy objects around the job site, workers must be aware when they're in potential danger zones. Posting signs will help reduce the risk of this type of accident. Well-trained workers and effective safety equipment (such as tethers or netting) are even more important to reduce injury risks.
10. Hazardous materials
On any job site, potentially hazardous chemicals – including asbestos – can present danger to all who work near them. Proper training to deal with such materials is necessary for anyone who might come in contact with them.
Beyond those risks, it's also a good idea for everyone at your site to have first aid training so that they can help if a coworker is injured on the job. In some cases, that preparation can save a life, but more often it keeps things under control and limits the extent of a workplace injury or accident.
NECA Education & Careers can provide the safety training that you need to keep your job site as free of injury risks and health hazards as possible.