Assessing The Risks And Managing Health And Safety In Construction

Building sites can be dangerous places. Contractors and crew bosses who aren’t concerned with keeping their workers healthy and safe do not stay in business very long. Not only do they have trouble keeping workers, they will face the legal and financial ramifications of their actions. Managing health and safety in construction isn’t just a good idea. In most cases, it is the law.

Workers in the building industry can be exposed to occupational cancers, like asbestos, silica, and paint and diesel engine exhaust. Nearly four thousand workers die every year from building industry occupational cancers. This amounts to forty percent of occupational cancer related diseases.

Workers are also at risk for lung and other breathing disorders. These are caused by the fumes and dust they inhale. Workers suffer from high rates of skin diseases, like dermatitis, as a result of their exposure to hazardous materials.

There are many physical health risks associated with the building trade. Prominent among them are back injuries and upper body disorders. Manual handling, which includes heavy lifting, lowering, and carrying loads, accounts for a third of the injuries in the workplace. It is the hazard most likely to keep workers away from the job for seven days or more.

It is imperative that contractors and crew bosses require all workers to protect themselves from exposure to harmful toxins. This can include issuing protective gear like hazmat suits when working with demolition, heavy gloves to protect the skin from harsh chemicals, and face masks to prevent inhaling harmful dust particles. Workers must be trained on the correct ways to lift and carry heavy loads.

Building sites are dangerous unless steps are taken to prevent serious accidents. Workers who work at heights, operate cranes, and work with electricity are at risk without comprehensive safety precautions implemented by management. Crews who work with combustible materials, on mobile platforms, and operate excavators face dangers without proper training and expertise. Demolishing existing buildings on sites to make way for new construction is extremely dangerous unless each worker knows exactly what his job is and where he is supposed to be.

It is imperative that the contractor have enough time before construction begins to create a detailed plan for the job that includes identifying all health and safety risks that might be associated with it. Every worker who is hired must show that he has the experience and training necessary to do the work safely. All workers must be apprised of any risks or hazards prior to the start of a job and be given detailed explanations as to how these issues will be handled.

Crew bosses who intend to hire migrant workers need to take special precautions. Many of these individuals don’t speak English at all or have limited ability to communicate in English. If these workers are involved in jobs that have risks or hazards associated with them, there must be an interpreter who can spell out what the dangers are and what workers are expected to do and wear to minimize them.

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