Without the right safety procedures, a construction site can be an incredibly dangerous workplace. Ensuring that you’re operating a safe worksite is vital for the safety of your workers, nearby pedestrians and traffic and for the efficiency operation of your business. It’s also a legal requirement. Failing to adhere to the various workplace safety regulations can end up costing your business hundreds of thousands of dollars, lead to serious legal trouble and end up irreparably damaging your business reputation.
So, let’s have a look at some of the key ways to keep a construction site safe.
Ensure Workers are Adequately Trained
Different worksites will require different levels of training and qualifications. It’s essential that all onsite workers and visitors have the requisite safety training and qualifications before coming onsite.
All workers onsite must have a valid white card proving they have completed the general OH&S construction induction training for the industry.
If your workers are operating high-risk machinery, like cranes or heavy vehicles, they should also have the appropriate licenses and experience. Understanding how to safely use this machinery, particularly around others, can significantly reduce onsite risk.
Workers should also be taken through a site induction before starting work. This should give them a comprehensive understanding of the worksite, including high-risk areas, like where heavy machinery is being used, and what to do in an emergency.
Workers should also know how to safely handle high-risk materials, such as asbestos and chemicals, to avoid endangering themselves or others.
Minimise and Manage Risks
Not all risks can be completely eliminated, but you can take plenty of steps to minimise and manage them. A great way to start is by conducting regular site safety assessments. As part of these assessments, encourage all workers to report any risks they encounter. You can then assess these risks and address them as needed.
You can also manage risks by keeping everyone informed. An easy way to do that is with clear signage. It should be obvious to everyone where hard hats or hearing protection should be worn, for instance.
In addition to this, everyone should have access to all necessary safety equipment. This includes PPE (personal protective equipment), like high-visibility vests, hard hats and safety glasses. Further, specialist safety equipment, like scaffolding and fall arrest systems, may be needed for some projects.
While it’s essential to minimise risks, you should also be aware that accidents will happen from time to time. Being prepared and trained for these accidents will help to minimise their severity. Make sure you have trained first aid officers onsite and that all workers know who they are and where to find them. You should also ensure that you have fully stocked and easily accessible first aid kits, fire extinguishers and other necessary safety equipment.
Keep the Site Secure
All construction sites should be secured to ensure only authorised personnel can access the site. Security fencing, hoarding and warning signs should be used to discourage unqualified personnel from entering the site.
Vehicle access to the site should also be strictly managed. You should have a clear traffic control plan in place, including separate entry and exits for machinery and vehicles, as well as designated turning and reversing points. Pedestrian and vehicle zones should be separated where possible and shared areas should be clearly signposted and monitored.
As part of your traffic management planning, you should also have appropriate traffic control measures for nearby roads and footpaths. You may need to have trained traffic management personnel directing traffic and pedestrians to stop when vehicles are entering or exiting the construction site.
For full details on managing construction site safety, visit the WorkSafe Victoria website.