How to Eliminate Common Hazards on a Construction Site

A construction site changes nearly every day, making it a dynamic environment that can seem hard to control or predict. Yet, by identifying common hazards on a construction site, companies can help foresee potential risks, regulate operations and ensure a safe workplace for everyone on the job—regardless of the varying tasks at play. Some common risks that companies should consistently address include fall, struck-by, electrical and fire hazards.

Fall Hazards

Planning is key for eliminating fall hazards and it involves proactively thinking about uneven ground levels, employees working at heights, the different types of fall protection equipment being used and the individual tasks that will be performed throughout a job. This also means being aware of risks that are often overlooked, such as falling short distances below the standard threshold for fall protection. Simply using guardrails, fall harnesses and lanyards can make the difference between completing a task safely or experiencing a serious injury. In addition to providing safety gear, companies should prioritize training and communication to ensure that everyone knows how to use their equipment properly. This conversation invites workers to think about what potential risks might be present during a job and how they can personally ‘gear up’ for these risks to exceed safety protocol.

Struck-by Hazards

With a range of heavy equipment, vehicles, and loose materials during construction, struck-by-hazards are common across most job sites. Properly stacking materials and tool tethering are a couple of the easiest ways to prevent these types of accidents. Additionally, workers should avoid working underneath suspended loads and wear the appropriate hard hats, eye wear and face protection at all times. It is important to keep in mind that removing safety gear for even a brief moment could result in a serious or fatal injury.

Electrical Hazards

Electrical risks are possibly some of the most overlooked issues on a construction site. While people use electrical outlets every day of their lives, the dangers of the cords, outlets and tools involved are often disregarded. Therefore, it is critical to train employees to recognize the dangers associated with damaged cords or tools and to understand electrical risks, including buried electrical lines, before starting a job. This is especially important for new employees that may need additional familiarization with energized tools.

Fire Hazards

Small engines and flammable materials are common on construction sites and cause a risk of fire. Quick tips for preventing fire hazards include storing combustible materials in the proper containers to avoid spills and ruptures, as well as ensuring those containers are vented and stored in areas away from heat and direct sunlight. Employees being in a hurry can also be a cause for concern, as many workers are focused on working quickly. A more general way to overcome fire risks involves slowing workers down to allow meticulous decision-making and thoughtful execution. For example, workers may refill a hot engine with gasoline, without waiting for the machine to cool down first. This rushed process could cause a fire and have a major impact on the site and its workers.

About the Author

Michael Barnes
Michael Barnes is the safety director for Hoar Construction’s Florida Division. He holds a Certified Safety Professional credential from the Board of Certified Safety Professionals. Barnes has supervised a variety of projects in mixed-use retail, hospitality and major theme parks in Orlando, Fla.

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