10 Safety Tips for Workers in Construction
- By Jonathan S. Damashek
- Aug 25, 2021
Since its establishment in 1970, OSHA has produced safe environments for employees by holding employers accountable to specified guidelines they establish. Yet, as conditions change, there is always more room to improve and maintain a high standard for workplace safety, particularly considering the pandemic.
Preventing the Spread of Covid-19
OSHA’s general duty clause requires employers to “furnish each worker employment and a place of employment, which are free from recognized hazards that are causing or are likely to cause death or serious physical harm.” To remain in accordance with this clause, employers have taken great lengths to prevent the spread of Covid-19, including:
- Increasing ventilation in enclosed spaces
- Avoiding ride-sharing to job sites
- Providing paid leave for employees to get vaccinated
- Staggering arrival and departure times
- Decreasing crew size on the job site
- Staggering break times
- Incorporating PPE if it is not already necessary for the particular job
Although employers are making efforts, you can also do several things to stay safe on site. Here are the top ten tips.
1. Avoid “Choke Points”
There may be multiple people out on a job site at once. Even if your crew size has been reduced, there are still areas where workers can experience an increased amount of contact. These areas are called “choke points,” and they can make for a high-risk situation if you end up in one.
A good tip here is to be patient. If you see several people crowded around the restroom, just wait it out until it is safe for you to go.
2. If You Feel Sick, Let Someone Know
This may seem obvious at this stage of the pandemic. However, it may be hard to step out and say you are sick for many reasons. You may not want to cause anyone to panic, or maybe you think you are not “sick enough” to miss work.
However, failing to take responsibility for your health only puts you and others at risk. Besides, it is better to err on the side of caution and go home. Your employer should compensate you if you are out of work due to Covid-19. This will also provide management with the information needed to track Covid-19 infections within the workplace.
3. Attend Training Online
If you are new to the construction industry and require training, online safety training is available to you, especially if it is unwise to attend in person. This training will benefit you by avoiding the risk of infection altogether through an at-home program.
This training will also enable you to be proactively safer on the job and limit accidents that are non-related to Covid-19, such as falls, trips, and slips.
4. Sanitize Before, During and After Work
Before you come into work, be sure to disinfect and sanitize appropriately by washing your hands or using hand sanitizer. That way, you do not end up carrying anything into work that could lead to infection or the spread of the disease. During your workday, you could potentially share equipment or be in close contact with co-workers depending on the level of risk involved on your job site. Be sure to sanitize after using equipment or after you were in close contact with an employee.
Your employer should have many areas with sanitizer where you can quickly disinfect. If you are not near any of these areas or you employer does not have them, carry some disinfectant wipes just in case.
5. Keep Alcohol-Based Wipes with You
Several employers have taken proactive steps to increase the accessibility of sanitizer and disinfecting wipes. However, certain jobsites may be an increased risk level and access could be limited. This means you need a backup plan if you are trying to limit the effects of exposure at work. Alcohol-based wipes are portable and effective. A good tip is to always keep a few with you to make sure you are covered out in the field.
6. Observe the Level of Risk Involved
There are four risk levels that measure the exposure to Covid-19 on a particular job. These risk levels include:
- Low Exposure
- Medium Exposure
- High Exposure
- Very High Exposure
Most construction jobs fall in the category of high exposure risk due to the high frequency of contact with others. However, levels of exposure depend on the task and what is required. These characteristics include:
- Amount of close contact required
- Number of workers on site
- Number of visitors to the site
It is always good to know the level of risk involved in any job you are heading to and make sure that you are prepared.
7. Avoid Ride-sharing
As stated above, many employers have already limited ride-sharing to job sites to remain socially distanced. However, it is essential to abide by these guidelines to and from work, as well. If you and a co-worker typically ride to work together, it is wise to avoid this for the time being to make sure you are safely distancing yourself during work hours.
8. Bring Your Own Water Bottle
If you do not already, it is essential to bring your own source of drinking water while you are on the job site. This will limit the need to use a common source of drinking water and limit your chances of spreading and being exposed to infection.
9. Use the Same Equipment
Make sure that you have your own designated equipment if you can. Although you may need to share specific equipment requiring you to constantly disinfect, having equipment that is only used by you can further prevent infection.
10. Observe Additional OSHA Standards
Educate yourself on other standards OSHA has that work to provide a safer environment for employees. Be on alert for potential issues and if you see any, be sure to say something. It could save your life as well as someone else’s. Also, if you see obstructions such as equipment or debris that could cause an accident, be sure to remove them. Maintaining best practices like this can ensure a safer work environment for everyone. It also takes little to no effort to perform and can go a long way in avoiding injury.
Be Proactive About Your Safety
The truth is, safety is everyone’s responsibility, and when taken seriously, it creates an environment where people produce their best work. Whether it is disinfecting equipment or staying home when you are sick, both types of tasks will aid in helping prevent potential hazards.