Construction site safety is an all-important facet of the construction industry. It is important to ensure the safety of the workers and staff on the construction team, whether it is building a new structure or demolishing an old one. It is crucial that they are protected from hazardous and toxic wastes. Construction site safety also involves taking steps to prevent accidents, injuries, and falls.
Although construction sites can be dangerous places, and statistics certainly prove that, taking meticulous and disciplined steps to ensure safety can prevent a lot of problems that are common now.
Even if a construction worker is not exposed directly to any hazardous waste, he could be exposed to it indirectly as part of his job. Any danger to the worker would depend on the duration and extent of the exposure to the hazardous material.
The kinds of dangers and illnesses and injuries that workers are exposed to on construction sites would differ from industry to industry. For example, brick masons could be prone to developing cement dermatitis and postural changes due to the heavy loads they carry (as do stonemasons).
Electricians could be exposed to solder fumes which contain heavy metals or asbestos dust. Insulation workers could be exposed to asbestos and other synthetic fibers that are harmful. Roofers can be exposed to roofing tar and excess heat.
There are different hazards for which construction site safety must be taken seriously. There are chemical hazards and physical hazards. Chemical hazards occur due to inhalation of vapors, gases, fumes, etc. Examples of this are bronchitis, asbestosis, silicosis, etc. It can also occur when chemicals get into contact with the skin, as in contact dermatitis and skin allergies. Those exposed to liquids and solvents could get neurological disorders. This is especially common among painters. Physical hazards could be due to heavy loads, noise, extreme cold or heat or barometric pressures. There can also be exposure to UV rays and radiation from welding. Strains, sprains, musculoskeletal disorders, etc., are common physical side effects. Falls, injuries and accidents are also common in construction sites.
In summation, here are a number of ways in which safety can be enhanced in construction sites, including the following:
- Wearing well-designed protective clothing.
- Wearing suitable footwear that can protect against unstable footing or slips.
- Safe scaffolding.
- Proper ventilation in sites. These would have to be mobile so that they could be taken anywhere, such as dust collectors mounted on trucks with their own power source, filters and fans. Measures such as these can reduce the exposure to toxic fumes and other hazardous gases.
- Using material that absorbs sounds or reflects it will help to prevent noise-induced hearing damage.
- Exposure to extremes of heat can be avoided by working at night, taking frequent breaks, drinking plenty of water, wearing sunscreen and sun-protective clothing, etc.
- Emergency drills, first aid provision, and standby medical teams on site can help to provide immediate aid in the event of an accident and potentially reduce fatalities.