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Safety issues at construction site involves safety during excavation, scaffolding, formwork, working at heights, material handling and stacking, housekeeping works. The recommendations mentioned for safety in construction is based on Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA).

Major Safety Issues at Construction Site

The major areas considered for safety considerations at the construction site are:

  1. Excavation work at Construction
  2. House Keeping
  3. Scaffolding Issues
  4. Working at Heights

1. Safety Issues for Excavation and Trenching Works

Serious hazards can  be provided to the workers involved  in the trenching and excavation works. The major risk are during the cave-ins which is severe than any excavation issues.

Before entering the trench, it must be assured that adequate protections are provided to prevent the cave-in hazards. Other issues associated with the same are hazardous atmosphere, falling loads and safety issues from the mobile equipment.

Safety Practices in Excavation and Trenching Works

  1. The sides of excavation work must be sloped and benched for easy movement. This avoids further collapse. A slope not steeper than 1and half to 1 is safe for any form of soil.
  2. The sides of excavation must be supported.
  3. The side of the excavation and the working area must be separated by means of a shield.
  4. Protective barricades can be used to avoid falling of soil or rock over the workers. Any other equivalent form of protection can be provided.
  5. When the mobile equipment or machines are working adjacent or near the edge of excavation, proper warning system have to be provided.
  6. Keep the workers away during the loading and unloading of the heavy materials. This protects the life from falling materials or any spillage.
  7. As the trenching progress, OSHA recommends the professionals to check the air quality levels during the cave –ins. Presence of depleted oxygen levels will ask the workers to wear respiratory protection equipment depending on the severity of hazardous atmosphere.
Benching Excavation Safety

Fig.1: Benching Excavation Safety;Image Courtesy: Aspenrentall

2. Safety Issues with Housekeeping at Construction Site

Housekeeping practice in a construction site means keeping the work area neat, orderly and avoid slip and trip hazards. Poor housekeeping can result in

  • Slipping wet or dirty surface
  • Accidents from falling objects
  • Presence of loose objects on floors, platforms and stairs.
TMT rods not properly stacked - fail in Housekeeping

Fig.2: TMT rods not properly stacked – fail in Housekeeping

Good Housekeeping practices in Construction site

  1. Proper maintenance of the building area and the working equipment is the primary safety practice. This ensures that the building, equipment and the machinery are safe and efficiently working.
  2. Regular cleaning during the work shifts
  3. Proper waste disposal
  4. Unused materials can be removed
  5. Proper inspection of the work area by a competent person
  6. The access and exit for the construction site must be safe and clear
  7. General safety signs must be erected and placed in order
  8. There must be safe and neat storage spaces for the materials and the plant
  9. Maintain a neat and orderly workplace environment.

3. Safety Issues with Scaffolding Works

Improper scaffolding works will result in hazards. Fall hazards are occurred if the scaffolds are not properly erected or used. As per OSHA about 2.4 million construction workers work over scaffolding. Following the safety practices during scaffolding works helps to prevent injuries and fatalities.

The figure-3 below shows scaffolding erected without any base. This will result in collapse of the scaffolding and danger to the worker working over it. Every scaffolding must be erected with strong foot bearing plates to avoid collapse.

Scaffolding Provided Without Foot bearing Plates

Fig.3: Scaffolding Provided Without Foot bearing Plates

Safety Practices in Scaffolding Works

  1. The scaffolding must be erected on a solid footing with proper foot bearing plates
  2. The scaffolding used must be strong and rigid
  3. The scaffolding must carry its dead weight and almost 4 times the maximum load coming over it. This must be carried without any form of displacement or settlement.
  4. Scaffolding must not be supported by means of boxes, loose bricks or any other unstable objects
  5. Any repair or damage to the scaffolding accessories like braces, screw legs, ladders or trusses have to be repaired and replaced.
  6. Access to the scaffolding is provided through ladders and stairwells
  7. The natural and synthetic ropes used in suspension scaffolding must not interrupt with heat or electricity producing sources.
  8. A minimum of 10 feet have to be maintained between the scaffolding and the electric lines.
  9. Scaffolding construction must be inspected by a competent person. The unit must be erected, moved or dismantled with the guidance and supervision of this competent person.

4. Safety Issues in Working at Heights

The major safety practice that is to be provided when the workers are at heights are to provide sufficient fall protection. Greatest fatalities in the construction industry are caused due to falls. The major reasons involved  in falling are:

  • Unstable working surfaces
  • Failure to use fall protection equipment and accessories
  • Human errors
Workers Not following Safety Practices - No Safety Helmets and protection

Fig.4: Workers Not following Safety Practices – No Safety Helmets and protection

Safety Practice when Working at Heights

  1. Use of aerial lifts or elevated platforms to provide safer working surface
  2. The holes in the floors must be covered
  3. Personal fall arrest systems or safety net systems must be used
  4. Provide guard rails
  5. Warning lines or control lines can be installed
  6. Proper training of the workers regarding safety working practice
  7. Make workers aware about the use and maintenance of Personal protective equipment(PPE)
  8. Check the working condition of the equipment working at heights.

About Anurag Mishra

Anurag Mishra who is a civil engineer from S.R.K.R Engineering College .