In the first post of the series on construction safety management, we highlighted the importance of developing a culture of safety in Nigeria’s construction industry. It was important we got the issue of safety culture out of the way before delving into the different construction safety measures to undertake on construction sites. Because without first imbibing the culture of safety in Nigeria’s construction industry, all the construction safety measures in the world would be unimplemented.
Safety measures at construction sites helps to prevent unforeseen accidents. Accidents at construction sites may lead to loss of life and involve huge cost. The occurrence of fatalities in construction sites usually leads to site closure for accident investigation, loss of man/machine hours, loss of output, high labour turnover, loss of corporate reputation, payment of burial expenses/compensation/insurance claims for the dead.
Accident can be defined as an unforeseen circumstance or event which happens abruptly to cause damages to property and injury to the person(s) involved. Any of such occurrences that may interrupt or interfere with the orderly progress of activities in a construction site can therefore be termed as an accident.
6 Safety Procedures to Prevent Accidents on Construction Sites in Nigeria
The main types of accidents which cause death or serious injury on construction sites include falls, incidents with site vehicles, collapsing materials and contact with overhead power lines. To avoid such accidents, the following safety procedures must be observed at construction sites.
1. PERSONAL PROTECTIVE EQUIPMENT (PPE)
These are to be supplied to all the personnel’s working on site and even for the personal who are temporarily visiting to the site.
According to the constructor magazine, Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) can be classified as: Minimum Personal protective equipment (PPE) and Additional Personal protective equipment (PPE). They include the following;
- Hard Hat or Helmet
Hard hat or helmet is issued to each and every personnel working on site. It has to be worn all times at job site.
- Safety Glasses
Safety glasses are required at construction site every time debris is filled in air due to activities on site.
- Hand Protection Gloves
Hand gloves are supplied to all personals to protect against cuts when handling material or equipment’s, during cleaning operations, cutting metal studs or similar works.
- Safety Vests
Safety vests also called as high visibility shirts. Purpose of safety vest is to keep the person always clear in view, even in the dark and he should be visible to everyone.
Safety vests are of different bright colors like red, green, yellow so it’s easy for workers to see and locate each other
- Proper Clothing
Shirts, long pants and hard soul shoes, a 6-inch-high boot is recommended.
- Hearing Protection
It is compulsory to wear hearing protection equipment near any equipment, tool or machinery which makes loud noises. As per standard practice if you are 2 foot away from somebody and you need to shout to talk, putting hearing protection is necessary.
- Respiratory Protection
Sometimes as voluntary respiration policy dust mask is supplied, any employee looking for additional comfort or safety while working with fiber glass, fire proofing, cleaning the floors or handling debris.
- Face shields
A full face shield should be worn along with safety glasses when working in a high debris, operating grinder or any spark producing activity or similar activities or when done on site. An approved welding shield is compulsory to wear during all welding operations.
- Safety Harness
The safety harness is an attachment between a fixed and mobile object and is usually fabricated from rope, cable and locking hardware.
Full body safety harness to be used as a procedure for fall protecting system, ignorance can result in severe physical harm. Safety harnesses keep workers safe and are helpful in freeing their hands for work even while hanging on the side of a building.
2. MATERIAL STORAGE
Material on the job site should be stored properly when not in use to prevent injury and wastage of materials. Ensure proper storage and good housekeeping.
Proper storage can prevent the falls of the materials leading to material damage and accidents. Weight of the material stored should be within safe loading limits of the building floor.
Keep the passageway always clear for walking of personal and prevent injuries. Always store the material away from traffic.
Store material at least 6 feet away from the openings in the floor and 10 feet from the edge of the floor if the wall is not built on edge of floor.
3. MANUAL MATERIAL HANDLING
The personnel should be aware of his weight lifting capacity and if required take the help of another person if required instead of taking all load himself and use proper lifting techniques. Always need to wear the safety equipment’s while working on construction site.
4. MECHANICAL MATERIAL HANDLING
Mechanical material handling also requires same amount of safety as in case of manual material handling. Equipment Operator needs to take care of the weight lifting capacity of the equipment like forklifts, cranes and other similar to avoid accidents.
Ground personnel should be in machine operator’s vision always and should be aware of the safety procedures while working around the heavy mechanical equipments.
Basic Safety Precautions at Construction Site
In any construction project for basic safety precautions to be implemented are:
- Guard rails to be installed at open scaffold areas, all openings in the building floor, in the excavated areas, at mobile elevated platforms.
- Yellow stickers with safety notes to be pasted where necessary.
- All the working platforms should be stable, properly braced, should not be overloaded and safe for the working personnel.
- All the working areas and passageways should be free from waste or debris or any of obstruction like stored material.
- The site should be clean all the times and the material should be stored safely.
- There should be proper arrangement of collection and disposal of waste materials.
- First aid should be available at all times on site for cuts burns or any mishaps.
- Fire extinguishers to be placed on site on proper locations in case of any fire.
- That should be proper lighting arrangements on the site especially when the work is carried out during the night stand.
5. HEALTH AND SAFETY TRAINING
In order to promote safety awareness on maintenance site, the operators of the site at all levels should be trained for the safety and health on site. This training programme are to be arranged at least once every month and must be compulsory for all site operators.
The issues to be treated are listed below;
- Causes of accidents
- Cost of accidents
- Accident preventions
- Health and safety regulations
- Duties and responsibilities of participants
- Emergency procedures
- Machine and equipment testing, inspection and maintenance
6. HEALTH AND SAFETY POLICY
This a legislative instrument put in place to ensure that at all times , the safest and healthiest working conditions is provide at a work site using measures of international standard. It also states the responsibilities at the top management to the general to the general workforce. Health and safety methods will ensure the construction site has good design, good planning and uses tried and tested safety techniques.
The H & S policy should include the following;
- The management will make known all the risk and health hazard as far as the construction site is concerned.
- The management of the firm will ensure a qualitative training of personnel as regards safety on site.
- The maintenance manager / safety manager will identify the main hazards on the construction site and set additional rules and regulation.
- In the case of accidents, the procedure laid down for accident reporting will be followed and the result of accident analysis will be available to management and the health and safety committee.
Safety and precautions should therefore be an integral part of the operations of each construction site. The entire managerial staff of the company is to initiate and contribute to the support necessary to keep the site operational at all times.
There is simply no excuse for slacking or cutting corners when it comes to health and safety in construction. Poorly implemented health and safety techniques, design and management can result in accidents, illness and even death.