The work of Construction workers is one of the riskiest jobs. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), United States, has also ranked Construction Industry amongst the most hazardous industries. Although the minor and major risks associated with the industry cannot be entirely eliminated the frequency of the accidents can be drastically brought down by little awareness.
It is legal as well as the ethical duty of the employers of the construction workers to provide them a safe environment and the safety equipment. Some accidents do happen due to the recklessness of the worker himself but here we will discuss only the responsibilities of the employer towards the construction workers’ safety.
Provide Fall Protection System – Falling is one of the leading causes of accidents and deaths of construction workers on site. So, it is the duty of the employer to provide all possible fall protection systems. The employers need to provide the protection system at any walking or working level that is 6-feet above the normal level. The fall protection system may include – personal fall arrest harness, guardrails and safety net system. While talking about fall protection it should be noted that the employer is not only responsible to provide safety measure to prevent the worker from falling. It also includes keeping the construction worker safe from falling objects. For this purpose, employers need to provide the workers with hard-hats and toe-boards etc.
Follow the safety requirements of all scaffoldings – Almost 65% of construction works are done using scaffoldings and this is one of the riskiest equipment at the construction site so it needs to be given special attention. The scaffoldings should be designed, erected and disassembled only be the competent person who has an expertise on matters related to scaffoldings. It should always be erected on solid footing that is fully planked and is at a minimum 10-feet distance from power lines.
Appoint a Safety Monitor – All employers either supervise the construction work themselves or appoint a supervisor or an on-site manager to ensure workers doing their job efficiently. Likewise, they should also appoint a safety monitor or safety manager whose principle work should be to ensure the safety of the construction workers and provide all possible helps in case of an emergency. The safety monitor should see if all the workers have worn a hat, gloves, and other safety accessories. He must check all safety standards before the work starts and keep an eye on the ongoing work and warn workers at any sign of danger. If an accident occurs somehow he should immediately provide first-aid help and call an ambulance if needed.
Provide Safety Training to the Workers – It is the duty of every construction contractor or the employer to periodically provide safety training and education to the Construction workers. The workers should be trained about their responsibilities towards their own as well as the co-worker’s safety. Every construction worker should know his one small recklessness can result in a fatal accident for him or his co-workers. They should also be trained well for using aerial lifts, getting on and off scaffoldings, operating cranes or any other heavy risk machinery before getting the task to work on them.
Provide Personal Protective and Life Saving Equipment Free of Cost – It is the duty of the employer that all the workers are well-protected so it is his duty to provide them with personal protective and life-saving equipment. And, no employer can charge the worker for these things directly or indirectly. Providing the equipment is not a one-time duty; the employer needs to make sure all the employees are protected with the equipment when they are at the construction site. If any of the equipment gets damaged then it is his duty to replace them immediately.
Conduct Periodical Inspection of Tools and Equipment – The employer needs to conduct a periodical inspection to make sure tools and equipment are in proper working condition. The inspection needs to be done only by a competent person who knows the tools and risks associated with damaged tools. If any damaged or non-compliant tool is found it should immediately be marked and taken out from the construction site. Not only the tools but also the Personal Protective Equipment of the construction workers should be inspected periodically to make sure they are not damaged.
Arrange Periodical Medical Examination for the Construction Workers – While working on construction sites the workers are exposed to many hazardous chemical compounds, the most common being the asbestos, which can prove fatal for their health. So, the employer needs to arrange a medical examination for the workers to make sure they are not suffering from any health complications due to exposure to hazardous chemicals. The contractor also needs to educate the workers about the risks related to the chemicals before exposing them to such works.
You can read more about the major problems with construction site safety here.