Safety should be the top priority for all contractors in the construction industry. We all know that hardhats, safety glasses, and steel-toed boots are part of the norm, however what reduces accidents and deaths, and leads to lower premiums, is an efficient and effective safety plan.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that approximately 150,000 construction site injuries occur every year, and almost 19% of all workplace fatalities happen in the construction industry. In construction, detailed precautions can prevent big problems, and creating a safety plan is a great place to start.

1.      Create a Safety Plan

The contractor's first responsibility to it's workers is to maintain a safe work environment. This plan should be comprehensive, memorialized, and issued to every worker at the job site. Your plan should highlight emergency procedures and policies, identify hazards, provide for safety training, and record incidents as they occur. At least one manager should be identified as a “Safety Manager” and have the responsibility of training workers according to the program.

2.      Fall Prevention

The most notorious accident on job sites results from falls, particularly when it comes to the use of ladders. Ladders should be inspected regularly for broken steps, missing bolts, and any damaged parts, and always, without fail, placed on a level area. Workers should be aware of the one-to-four rule, which means the bottom of the ladder should extend about one foot for every four feet the ladder will be extended.

3.      Lift and Carry - Manual labor on construction sites typically involves more precautions when lifting or carrying heavy equipment. Statistics reveal that one in five workers will suffer from a lower back injury during their working lifetime. To help reduce back injuries, have employees bend from the knees while their feet are about shoulder-width apart, and be sure to shift their feet to change direction when carrying objects close to their waist level.

4.      Ergonomic Equipment - To help workers reduce fatigue, avoid injuries and strains, and to increase productivity, construction contractors should consider investing in ergonomic equipment. This would include safety items such as ladder caddies, rubber handled power tools, and seat cushions, which work with the worker's natural movements and reduce the risk of musculus-skeletal disorders than result in back pain.

5.      Heat Stress - Workers should be made aware of the three stages of heat stress, cramps, heat exhaustion, and heat stroke. Workers should be trained to hydrate properly before and during work by drinking 10 ounces of water every 20 minutes. Workers outside in extreme heat should have work tents or umbrellas to reduce the heat from the sun.

6.      Electrical Safety - After falls, electrocutions are the leading cause of construction fatalities. Workers should be instructed to inspect electrical equipment regularly and above all, stay clear of the water when working with electrical equipment. Damaged electrical cords should always be replaced rather than spliced or taped.

7.      Worker Visibility - Workers involved with side of the highway work or directing traffic around a construction site should always be provided with bright orange or yellow clothing or vests. This philosophy is even more important for highway work taking place during nigh time hours.

8.      Natural Hazards - Most workers don't consider an insect bite as a natural hazard until it results in an injury that prevents them from going to work. Insect bites and stings are very common in construction areas and can lead to serious injury if a worker has an allergy to the bite and attempts to continue working.

With many construction jobs, new workers are brought on board that may or may not have much construction experience. These new workers should be thoroughly trained on job-site safety to maintain a safe working environment, and reduce injuries while on the job.

Safety in the workplace will always be the employer's first line of defense when it comes to the cost of workers' compensation insurance. If you have questions about construction contractor safety contact Skyline Risk Management, Inc. at (718) 267-6600 to discuss your concerns.