27 Sep 2023

A comprehensive guide to avoiding common safety mistakes in construction

A comprehensive guide to avoiding safety mistakes in construction

As we know, construction sites can be extremely dangerous and hazardous places to work. For example in the US, construction has the second most workplace deaths in all industries, making up roughly 18% of total worker deaths with construction workers making up only about 5% of the U.S. labour force. The trends are similar worldwide and this disparity emphasises the need for a continued push to improve on-the-job safety for those working in the industry. It is very important to be aware of the common safety mistakes and how to prevent them and this article will offer practical strategies to do so.


Lack of Proper Training


Mistake: One of the most prevalent safety mistakes in construction is inadequate training for workers. When employees are unfamiliar with equipment operation, emergency procedures, or basic safety protocols, accidents are more likely to occur.


Prevention: Prioritise comprehensive training programs for all workers, both new and experienced. Regularly update training materials to keep everyone informed about the latest safety standards and practices. Run regular workshops and get togethers and promote safety in signage and communications etc. 


Inadequate Personal Protective Equipment (PPE)


Mistake: Failure to provide, or enforce the use of, appropriate personal protective equipment is a significant safety mistake. This includes hard hats, steel-toed boots, gloves, safety glasses, and high-visibility vests.


Prevention: Ensure that all workers have access to and wear the necessary PPE for their tasks. Conduct regular checks to confirm compliance and promptly address any non-compliance issues. Ensure where appropriate that 5 point PPE standards are imposed and Safety teams have the authority to take action to help ensure compliance. 


Neglecting Fall Protection


Mistake: Falls from heights are a leading cause of construction-related injuries and fatalities. Neglecting proper fall protection measures, such as guardrails, safety nets, and harnesses, can have devastating consequences.


Prevention: Conduct thorough risk assessments to identify areas where fall protection is required. Implement and enforce strict fall protection measures, and conduct regular inspections to ensure compliance.


Poorly Maintained Equipment


Mistake: Neglecting routine maintenance and inspections of construction equipment can lead to malfunctions, breakdowns, and potentially dangerous situations.


Prevention: Establish a rigorous maintenance schedule for all machinery and tools. Regularly inspect equipment for wear and tear, and promptly address any issues to prevent accidents.


Inadequate Communication


Mistake: Ineffective communication can lead to misunderstandings, misinterpretations, and potentially dangerous situations. This can occur between workers, between different trades, or between contractors and the client.


Prevention: Implement clear communication protocols, including regular safety meetings, use of standardised signage, and providing multilingual training materials if necessary. Encourage an environment where workers feel comfortable reporting safety concerns and update the site on how many accident free hours and days there’s been.


Overlooking Housekeeping


Mistake: Disorderly construction sites with debris, clutter, and unorganised tools can lead to accidents, slips, trips, and falls.


Prevention: Enforce strict housekeeping standards, including regular clean-up schedules and designated storage areas for tools and materials. Encourage workers to clean up after themselves and report any potential hazards. Employing a good labouring or clean up team can make sure the site is kept clear and orderly in a timely manner.


Ignoring Weather Conditions


Mistake: Disregarding adverse weather conditions, such as rain, snow, or extreme heat, can create unsafe working conditions and increase the risk of accidents.


Prevention: Monitor weather forecasts and have clear protocols in place for adjusting work schedules or implementing additional safety measures in response to adverse conditions. Build in potential bad weather days into the budget and timeline to negate the temptation to keep working in adverse conditions.


Not utilising the right construction management software that includes a safety module 


Mistake: Everyday safety activities such as document management, permitting, risk assessments and method statement approval can now be digital and streamlined. This can all be supported by powerful real-time reporting.

Prevention: Invest in a construction management software like EIDA that ensures that safety is safely managed, streamlined and digital. It should ensure instant access to safety documentation, have digital permitting that is accurate, created in the field, with built-in logic and have method statement & risk assessment approval that is easy to add, track and answer.

In conclusion, prioritising safety on construction sites is essential for the well-being of all workers and the success of the project. By addressing and preventing common safety mistakes, we can all create a safer and more productive construction environment. It’s important to remember to get everyone home safe everyday and that a safe site is a successful site.

Talk to one of our senior consultants today on how our EHS module could help you with ensuring the highest levels of safety management for your next big project.

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