Five Top Tips for Keeping Workers Safe

Sept. 15, 2016

Construction workers are still being injured or killed at an alarming rate—1 in 5 work-related deaths in the U.S. occurred in the construction industry in 2015, according to OSHA.

With the industry on an upswing and new, often inexperienced workers joining the fold, it’s imperative to review basic safety tips like these offered by Hickory Construction, an East Tennessee-based building firm with more than 30 years of experience in the construction industry.

Gather the team to go over them, and live by them when working around the home, as well.

1. Strong leadership sets the tone.

Safety standards are vital, but they are meaningless if company and project leaders aren’t committed to upholding them. Careful adherence to safety policy starts at the top. “As an employer, one of our most important roles is setting policies and procedures to help ensure that employees understand the importance of safety on the job site,” says Burke Pinnell, chairman of Hickory Construction.

Do-it-yourselfers also can make sure their quest for efficiency does not trump their focus on following safety procedures, whether they are working on their own or with a group of friends.

2. Training and tracking may be time-intensive, but they’re worth the investment.

It takes time and energy to train employees on safety protocol, but Hickory says it’s time well spent, particularly since 60 percent of construction workplace injuries occur in the builder’s first year of employment, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Employers can work toward the goal of achieving high safety standards by requiring that all employees undergo drug-free workplace protocol, engage in weekly “tool box talks” on safety-related activities, take CPR training and receive thorough equipment training. In addition, it is important to track safety results in order to reward success and refine future practices, Hickory says.

3. Proper form decreases the likelihood of injury.

It may sound basic, but Pinnell says construction workers cannot afford to underestimate the importance of following basic best practices when performing key building tasks. “Simple steps like properly lifting heavy items and using ergonomically correct tools can make a big difference in keeping workers safe,” Pinnell says.

OSHA reports that one in 10 construction workers is injured on the job in each year, and many incidents result from a failure to adhere to well-known safety benchmarks.

4. Good housekeeping makes for good working conditions.

Keeping a work site clean and organized can safeguard workers, too. Sweeping away spills, dust and dirt, keeping walkways clear and moving equipment out of the way minimizes the risk of careless accidents. Falls are the greatest source of fatal project injuries and lead to a large number of nonfatal incidents as well, according to The Center for Construction Research and Training. Making sure scaffolding is sturdy and obstacles are cleared maximizes workers’ likelihood of staying on their feet and returning home safely.

5. Personal protective equipment is a major tool for success.

Helmets, gloves, eyewear and foot protection are vital shields in the fight against injury. Even when workers use their own personal protective equipment, employers are responsible for its adequacy, maintenance and sanitation. Even the smallest precaution can help builders avoid significant negative consequences in the event of an accident, according to the company.

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