Controlling Risk at Construction Sites - Workplace Safety

In the field of construction, there is always a chance for risk for safety. An accident can happen at any time in a construction site. An injury is a consequence of an accident. What cause accidents? Accidents are the direct results of unsafe activities and conditions both of which can be controlled by the management of the construction site. The management is responsible for the creation and maintenance of the working environment and activities, into which workers must fit and interact. The management must develop safe systems of work and correct unsafe work conditions and practices. Unsafe acts and conditions are immediate and primary causes of accidents in the construction site.

Unsafe Acts:

  • Failure to warn others of a dangerous condition
  • Leaving equipment in dangerous condition
  • Using defective equipment
  • Allowing workers to work without Personal Protective Equipment (PPE)
  • Lifting loads improperly
  • Using the equipment at improper speed
  • Using wrong equipment for the task
  • Overloading of vehicles
  • Smoking in the areas where smoking is banned
  • Use alcohol or drugs while working

Unsafe Conditions:

  • Fire hazard
  • No sufficient light to do the work
  • Defective tools and equipment
  • Improper housekeeping
  • Inadequate Fire Warning Systems
  • Excessive noise
  • Missing platform guardrails

All the above stated acts and conditions are deviations from safe work practice. The management usually controls the risks by taking corrective actions. Some corrective actions are very effective and some are ineffective to control the risks. Hazard elimination is the best way to control the risk. The management can use alternatives or make design improvements and eliminate the risk. Substitution is another way to control the risk. The management can replace a chemical with one with lesser risk or replace the defective equipment with safer equipment. Using of barriers is the third way of controlling the risk. A noisy area can be isolated using a cabin. Using a procedure is another way of controlling the risk. The management can limit the exposure time or dilute the exposure to eliminate the risk. By using warning signs, the management could control the risk. Warning signs can include but not limited to signs, instructions, labels, notices etc. If the above measures are not suitable, the management could use Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) to control the risk. Regulations require that PPE should only be used if there is no immediately feasible way to control the risk by more effective means. The demerits of PPE include the interference with the ability to carry out the task, the PPE may fail and expose the wearer to the full effect of the hazard and continued use may mask the presence of the hazard and may result in no further preventive actions being taken.

The management must monitor the risk assessments to ensure their validity or when reports indicate that they may no longer be valid.

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