It should be a golden rule for safety hazards on a construction site to be boldly labeled so that the constant need to comply with safety guidelines when working is never dismissed. It’s not uncommon for the topic of site safety to stay on the back burner when your team’s priority is completing a project on time. This guide will help construction professionals rethink what is important on a construction site and promote site safety and health from start, to finish.
Site Safety Basics: Before stepping foot onto a construction site, workers should know the standard safety guidelines to follow and hazards to check for before carrying out a task. Workers play a vital role in ensuring the foundation for a safe workday is laid. Before getting to work, ask yourself:
- Who is the site safety supervisor right now, and where can they be found if you need them?
- Do you have PPE, and if not, where is it accessible?
- Construction sites need to follow COVID regulations like social distancing and low density, is this site up to par?
- Have you seen the project house plan and know how to navigate the field?
- Sites have the equipment all over the place– do you know what equipment on your site requires training? Are you equipped to operate everything your leader expects you to?
Answering these simple questions before starting work on a construction project can help you prevent several disparities, accidents, and fines due to incompliance while working.
Knowing the Law: It’s understandable if workers aren’t entirely clear on the essential standards and governance of construction, being there are many and they are always changing. We believe that knowledge is power, and knowing construction laws, standards, and requirements give everyone involved the ability to control health and safety and avoid violations. Below are some highlighted requirements that affect construction workers in NYC:
- A registered construction safety superintendent is required on any development under 9 stories tall. A certified site safety coordinator is needed on any construction development up to 14 stories high. A certified site safety manager is required on any construction development over 15 stories tall.
- In NYC, workers must receive their OSHA 30 training if working on any site with a superintendent, site safety coordinator, or site safety manager. Not meeting these requirements can lead to severe penalization.
- No later than March 1st, 2021, workers will need to complete an additional 10 hours of site safety training for 40 hours to meet site safety regulations. If they have not completed any training at all, they must complete all 40 hours by March of 2021.
- All NYC projects hold records of their safety standards to demonstrate that they keep up with city regulations whenever they are inspected. If you can, get familiar with these records so you can help enforce safety standards.
- Noncompliance will cost you! Failure to provide an SST card upon inspection can result in up to $15,000 in fines per untrained worker ($5k to the owner, $5k to the permit holder, and $5k to the employer if different from the permit holder).
Thorough Understanding of Protocols: We know that construction workers are human beings that will make mistakes just like the rest of us, and accidents are bound to happen. Knowing how to react when a mishap does occur is fundamental to preventing unforeseen accidents on a construction project. Workers play a detrimental role in honoring site safety and should make themselves responsible for knowing what steps to take if things take a turn for the worst. Somethings you should ask yourself to encourage site safety are:
- All construction sites should have a “Safety Plan” that workers can turn to as a guide for obeying safety on their job site and learn what the plan is in case of an emergency. We know that construction can be unpredictable, so review your site safety plan regularly to stay prepared.
- Falls are the leading cause of injuries in the construction industry, and one of the main areas construction workers need training in. Workers should always observe the different height levels on a site and ensure the proper placement of protective equipment as required. Is netting needed under a scaffold? Noticing these things beforehand can make a significant difference.
- Workers should know how to recognize safety hazards beyond physical injuries and always be prepared to conduct appropriate procedures to resolve them. Do you know what to do if exposed to lead on-site or inadequate levels of oxygen? These are protocols workers should know, as there’s no telling what can go wrong until it does. If you don’t have this knowledge, speak to a higher-up about getting the training you need.
Open and Clear Communication: As we mentioned earlier, all construction projects require some safety supervision level to comply with the city. Assigning this role to someone that can openly communicate with staff and takes their responsibility to share vital information seriously is ideal but doesn’t always happen. The best way to achieve seamless construction site safety is if everyone is on the same page about what that looks like. Here are some suggestions for communicating about safety needs on a project:
- Form a connection with your site safety supervisor so that you know who to turn to with questions or concerns. It also helps them get to know you if they need someone to call on for particular tasks.
- Construction sites have posters with general worker information, including safety guidelines (because the DOB requires it). Explore your site and read all of the information posted as a refresher on how construction site safety should work. The DOB requires all posters to be available in the languages spoken by workers. So, if you can’t read something on your site, bring it to your higher-ups’ attention.
- Know who your coworkers are, what they are trained in, what they excel at, and what they have no business doing. While workers without appropriate training shouldn’t be on a construction site, we’re no fools and know it still happens. Knowing someone is not trained can prevent them from being assigned a task they are underqualified to complete.
- Many things can go wrong on a construction project, one of them being things breaking, being misplaced, or postponed. Sometimes a project is incompliant due to factors beyond control. Open communication about anything going on on a construction site that shouldn’t be, but is out of control, is essential to keeping everyone out of trouble with DOB, OSHA, and whoever else wants in on the action.
With all of our team’s years of experience, we know what construction site safety should look like on a project and how it should be executed to result in the best outcome. This checklist may not break down the components of site safety, such as scaffold use or fall prevention, but it does give workers a general idea of what to look for and prioritize to help protect the health and safety of all involved on a project. By going through this list, workers are pushed to be alert and focused on safely and efficiently completing the task at hand.