Managing risks on the job site is a contractor’s prime responsibility — both to keep workers safe and healthy and to protect the entire project’s bottom line. Every year, workers suffer serious injuries or even tragic fatalities due to preventable incidents.
To keep productivity high, mitigate risks and avoid unnecessary accidents, contractors need to have the right safety procedures and protocols in place to ensure everyone plays a part in keeping the worksite safe.
This ultimate guide to construction safety will cover some of the most essential areas of safety and hazard prevention, ensuring you keep everyone healthy and committed to protecting themselves and others. Here's how you can start improving your worksite:
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The foundation of a safe construction site starts with the quality of its safety training programs. Every worker needs to be fully up to speed on basic safety requirements and expectations, and they should make an ongoing commitment to protecting themselves.
According to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), safety training programs are highly effective. Since OSHA was enacted in 1970, occupational injuries and deaths have dropped by 60%. Despite this success, there’s still a shocking number of workplace injuries and fatalities that occur every year, partly due to the growing number of people joining the workforce. This phenomenon creates a higher risk of incidents.
In 2018, the Bureau of Labor Statistics recorded 4,779 private industry worker fatalities, and over 21% of these incidents involved the construction industry. Over half of these construction industry fatalities were attributed to what OSHA calls the “fatal four.” By eliminating these top common hazards, we could save nearly 600 lives every year.
As the statistics and case studies show, construction safety training isn’t optional.
OSHA sets the standards for expectations in construction safety training. However, how the training programs are implemented is up to each respective management team. When creating your worksite safety training program, consider these essential components of a successful initiative:
All operators must learn the basics of operating construction equipment safely. Even if your operators are incredibly experienced, it’s always a good idea to stick to the basics to avoid becoming complacent. If you’re managing a construction site, it’s important to have a standard expectation of all equipment operators, as well as those employees on the ground.
Here are some critical basics on operating construction equipment safely:
Personal protective equipment is a must for construction workers, contractors, suppliers and anyone visiting a construction site. These products protect the individual worker's health and safety. As opposed to rules and procedures that inform a worker’s behavior, PPE provides a direct defense against hazards should they threaten the worker’s immediate physical health or safety.
PPE is worn to prevent accidents. When safety rules and procedures break down, PPE keeps you safe from injury or fatality. OSHA prescribes five main categories of PPE that address critical aspects of personal health:
Each PPE category contains specific types of products that keep you safe. In addition to these main groups, you also have access to other personal protective equipment that prevents injuries from different hazards, including falls and struck-by hazards. Here are the vital pieces of construction personal protective equipment workers should have or may need:
Though summer is the best season for construction, it can also be the riskiest to worker health and safety. According to OSHA, thousands of workers every year become sick from occupational heat stress injuries. A sudden change from spring to summer carries a unique set of hazards that construction supervisors need to understand and plan for. During the summer, temperatures and worker well-being should be closely monitored to prevent a range of heat illnesses.
Overexposure to heat is uncomfortable, but it can also be deadly. Everyone on a construction site should understand the severe consequences of heat exposure and its signs. Here are the common heat illnesses that put workers at risk:
Heat hazards can be severely debilitating if not properly managed. Managers and supervisors must know what the risks of heat illness are and how to prevent them. Here are some ways you can promote better construction safety in hot weather and protect you and your workers from heat hazards:
Workers need to be concerned about more than just the heat. When temperatures plummet, the risks of severe injury and illness increase, too. Depending on the climate, winter weather can last months, meaning some workers will be exposed to the cold for extended periods. Without proper precautions, workers can develop a range of cold stress illnesses, particularly when there’s a sudden temperature drop or an increase in the wind chill.
If you manage construction projects in a cold climate, you should know about the hazards of working in winter weather:
Cold stress is completely preventable as long as you prepare for it. Workers with the right cold protection gear can continue performing most of their regular duties, weather permitted. If you’ve got construction jobs to run in the winter, here are the appropriate ways to protect workers from cold hazards:
Cat® equipment is expertly engineered with the highest commitment to safety. Caterpillar continuously improves safety features and technology to provide the ultimate reassurance to our customers and workers around the world.
When renting any piece of equipment, always refer to the operation and maintenance manual to understand the full scope of safety features available on our Cat machines. Knowing what the basic safety features are and how to use them will keep you and your workers safe and productive every day.
As part of your commitment to construction safety, you must ensure the construction equipment you use is well-maintained. For that, you need an equipment rental dealer you can trust. The Cat Rental Store and authorized Cat rental dealers adhere to the highest standards in construction rental equipment.
By partnering with your local Cat Rental Store, you’re guaranteed a safe and reliable machine — one that has been expertly maintained and is available when you need it. Thanks to our extensive Cat dealer network, you’ll always have access to high-quality construction equipment. To learn more about construction equipment rentals, browse our rental inventory online, or contact a Cat Rental Store location near you.