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Essential tips for site safety

02-08-2012

Construction sites are some of the most dangerous places to work. The nature of the work, and the tools used to carry it out, means the potential for accidents is always high.

Some of the tips on this list are required by law, but they're well worth reminding yourself of every now and again. There is no such thing as being too prepared.

Keep a fire extinguisher nearby

Having a working fire extinguisher on hand at all times is required by law (in the UK at least) but it's one of those simple things that can easily be forgotten. Although it may seem like a small thing, having it on hand should anything go up in flames will make the difference between a small incident and a potential disaster.

Put a first aid kit with it

On the same note, access to a first aid kit, and hopefully someone with first aid training, can prevent an accident from turning into a serious, perhaps even life-threatening injury. If it's a large site, make sure there are a number of first aid kits so one is always close by.

Always use protective equipment

Again, much protective equipment is mandatory by law, such as hard hats and steel capped boots, but some, like extra gripping on work boots, is not. No one's life was saved by fulfilling the minimum requirement. Err on the side of caution and ensure all protective equipment that can be worn, is worn at all times.

Make sure all workers are accounted for, at all times

Particularly important on a large site, it's essential to know where all workers are at all times. It could be the difference between an injured worker receiving fist aid within those crucial first 15 minutes, or him laying undiscovered for some time.

Operating a 'buddy system' is a good way to keep track of all workers on-site.

Keep a tidy site

It sounds simple enough, but it's easy to let things slide and get messy. Be strict about putting tools back in their respective places at the end of the day, not leaving cables trailing, and keeping walkways clear. More than just common courtesy, it's about preventing trips and falls – the most common workplace accidents.

Regularly maintain and test equipment

Before work begins, ensure all equipment is tested and any required maintenance is scheduled appropriately. The type of equipment used on construction sites can cause serious harm if faulty or damaged.

While you're at it, testing the fire alarms before work starts would also be an excellent idea.

Assign dedicated smoking areas

From a health and safety perspective, dedicated smoking areas are obviously important to prevent the harmful effects of passive smoking, but on a construction site they are particularly important.

Depending on the type of work being carried out, there may be toxic elements or highly flammable materials that, needless to say, need to be far away from the sparks of cigarette lighters or butts. As such, the smoking area should be set well away from the construction site itself.

Workplace safety is an important issue wherever you work, but on a construction site safety should always be at the forefront of your mind.

Nick Lewis is writing for Universal Platforms, cherry pickers hire and training in London. Find out more at www.universalplatforms.co.uk

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