Construction is one of the most gratifying professions. Whether you are a hot shot engineer or a lowly mason, the work is very satisfying. The reason is that a new creation is brought into the world. Of course, this might not be the motivation for everyone in the construction industry. But if you are into construction, then you should always be proud of the work you do. While it is quite gratifying, construction work is also risky. Whether you are planning to get into construction or already part of it, it is worthwhile to be aware of these hazards.
1. Moving Equipment:
Most construction sites have some or the other heavy equipment in use. But for small to medium sized sites, the heavy equipment is handheld in most cases. For large construction sites, it is common for heavy equipment like cranes, forklifts, dumpers, and loaders being used. Because of their size, the drivers of these equipment have at least one blind spot which even their rear view mirror can’t capture. Also, some cranes also suffer from faulty chains or wire ropes. This could lead to heavy materials crashing down to the ground.
Precaution – People at sites should be mindful of the surroundings. They should maintain a safe distance from heavy equipment. Use of helmets and other protective equipment should be mandatory.
2. Fire and Chemicals:
Many construction industries see the use of very strong chemicals. Not only are such chemicals dangerous for human skin, but they could also cause a fire hazard. There are some paints which cause toxic fumes or smoke to be released. This can be fatal in a closed or semi-open area. The problem with this is that everyone in a construction site might not understand the possible hazard of an innocent looking tin of pain. A pile of combustible material kept at a corner of a site might not raise too many eyebrows. That is why complete and continuous education is the only way to prevent such hazards.
Precaution – Prominent warning boards should be put up at different areas of the construction site. This is especially true where dangerous chemicals and combustible materials are used. The use of personal protective equipment like fire-resistant overalls must be made compulsory for such sites.
3. Electrical Hazards:
A lot of work in any construction work requires the use of equipment which requires electricity. Many of the regular jobs on a typical site release sparks or flames. In a mismanaged construction site, you can see lots of electrical wires lying around. These pose a grave risk in two ways. First, they can cause burning by sparks or they can cause fires to start on the site. This can happen if there are combustible materials lying close to these areas. The second risk is that of electrocution. If the voltage is high enough, electrocution might even become fatal.
Precaution – Fire safety instructions are very useful. They must be displayed in a prominent manner in all areas of the construction site. In places where chemicals are used or stored, necessary instructions must be put up. Workers should wear suitable protective clothing.
4. Falling Workers:
Most construction sites nowadays deal with multi-storied construction. As the height of the building increases, the risk of workers falling off the edges becomes higher. If the building is a few floors high, a fall might result in some bruises or broken bones. But for high rise structures, a fall could be fatal. Usually, three reasons are observed for such falls. The scaffolding on which workers stand while working could become weak and break. Workers might fall off the edges. And finally, there might be gaping holes in some areas through which workers can slip through.
Precaution – There are several good companies to help with this. They manufacture useful equipment to provide rooftop fall protection. High areas where there is a gap must be marked off with caution boards or warning tapes. Scaffolding must be checked on a regular basis. Rotting wood or rusted metal must be changed if necessary.
5. Falling Objects:
We spoke earlier about accidental drops of heavy items from cranes or forklifts. But there are often smaller objects which fall from the top of high rise construction structures. These could be something as innocuous as bricks, boulders or even wooden/metal planks. By themselves, they are too small or light to cause too much damage. But when they fall from a height, the momentum of the falling objects can cause injury or even fatalities. If a falling object hits your shoulder or any other part of your upper body, you might get by with a painful bruise. But if it lands on your head, and you are without a helmet, it could cause serious damage.
Precaution – The paragraph above must have already made it clear that the helmet is the best security precaution for this scenario. Many construction sites also put wire netting around the circumference of the structure. This ensures that falling objects can’t fall to the ground and hit someone.
6. Slips and Falls:
This last one could actually seem humorous when it occurs, were it not so dangerous. Innocuous falls which seem harmless might result in broken bones or even worse. Stairways are an important location where such accidents often occur. Many construction sites also have oil spills in areas over which people walk. Water is another object which is not always given due importance on sites. But it can cause people to slip and fall.
Precaution – Installation of guard rails in stairways is a useful step. They can help people maintain their balance and avoid falling. Wet surfaces (due to oil or water spillage) must be immediately cleaned off, and warning boards placed in the interim. The footwear used by workers on site must also be selected with care. Anti-skid and anti-slip undersoles must be present in the footwear selected.
The cost of taking the precautions listed above is usually not very high. But the cost of an injury or fatality could be very high. That is why basic safety measures are important to know and implement for everyone concerned. This will ensure that no losses are suffered, and the team can be proud of the construction they have completed.