The construction industry’s accidents and fatality rates stands at more than that of the all other sectors. But, surprisingly most of the hazards associated with a construction sites are well known, and employers/ management takes appropriate actions to take care of employees, visitors, and those that may be affected by their activities, via implementing adequate accident prevention measures.
Listed below are few of the critical health and safety hazards/ risks, that are encountered on a typical construction site;
Working at Height
The construction of buildings or demolition works, frequently requires workers to work at height. The risks associated with working at height are often increased by failure to restrict access. Training, including awareness and usage of appropriate control measures (fall arrests, hand rails, scaffolding erection and inspection by competent personnel, work permits, etc.) are essential for workers required to work at height.
Construction sites can get quite complex with constantly moving vehicles/ machineries and workers, shifting heavy loads with overhead lifting equipment, etc. Controls shall be established for vehicle/ machinery movement (inspecting condition of vehicle/ machinery, competency of driver/ operator, speed limits, etc.), workers (demarcating walking paths, eye contact with moving machineries, etc.), lifting equipment (demarcating area where heavy loads are lifted, testing lifting equipment, operator competency, etc. ) appropriately.
Noise is a major hazard within the construction industry. Repetitive and excessive noise causes long term hearing problems and can be a distraction, which causes accidents to take place. There are situation where source of the noise generation, can be controlled (e.g. sound proofing, noise barriers, replacement of machinery with low noise generation, etc.). But when it is not practical, have to assess the level of noise and to use appropriate PPEs (earplugs, ear muffs, etc.).
Materials and equipment are being constantly lifted and moved around on a construction site, whether manually or by the use of lifting equipment. Where employee’s duties involve manual handling, then adequate training shall be provided on manual handling. Where lifting equipment is used for material handling, in addition to the training on material handling, the competency of the machinery operator and the condition of the machinery shall be tested to ensure the safety.
Airborne Fibres & Materials (Respiratory Diseases)
Construction sites are full of activities which kick up a lot of dust, and often invisible, fine, toxic mixture of hazardous materials and fibres, that can damage the lungs, leading to chronic diseases such as asthma and silicosis. PPEs (masks and respirators) can be used to minimize the inhalation of airborne fibres & materials, in addition to the control measures on dust generation.
One of the major cause of accidents with electricity are due, incompetent workers who are engaged with electrical works. Controls shall be established, to ensure that only competent electricians are performing electrical works, so that the workplace id safe from electrocutions. Further, special attention shall be given to works which are performed near overhead power lines.
Hand Arm Vibration Syndrome
Hand arm vibration syndrome, is a one of the serious industrial diseases of blood vessels, nerves and joints, triggered by the prolonged use of vibratory power tools and ground working equipment (drilling machines, rammer, etc.). This could be minimized by job rotation, limiting working hours, maintaining the conditions of equipment, equipment selection, etc.
The risk of an unintended collapse is generally more associated with excavations, trenches and demolition with inappropriate precautions. The appropriate methods to avoid accidental collapse, shall be planned prior to the commencement of the work.
Slips, Trips, & Falls
Diverse range of activities going on at a construction site at any one time (buildings at various stages of completion, scaffoldings, stored materials and equipment, etc.) make the site an hazardous workplace. Therefore, efforts shall be taken to maintained the site in more organized way and make aware workers on potential slips, trips and falls and hence to request workers to perform their works consciously.
Almost every organization in the construction industry, performs hazards identification and risk assessment, and determines appropriate control measures to eliminate/ minimize the risks. But, most of the organizations are failed to review that the established control measures are whether practiced consistently and effectively. Therefore, paying enough attention to review effective implementation of predetermined control measures, will enhance the health and safety performance, considerably.