Workplace Safety Month: Keeping Your Construction Team Safe

Did you know that June is National Safety Month? Safety is so important for your construction employees that an entire month is dedicated to increasing awareness of the issue.

Working construction in Summer increases the need for additional safety measures. More sunshine, heat, and humidity means you need to take additional precautions to protect your employees.

Implement the following tips to increase safety for your construction employees during hot weather.

Guard Against Heat Exhaustion 

Heat exhaustion is caused by the body becoming overheated to the point where it cannot cool itself down. This can turn into heat stroke if left untreated.

Symptoms of heat exhaustion include the following: 

  • Intense sweating 
  • A rapid or weak pulse  
  • Low blood pressure 
  • Cool skin with goosebumps despite the heat 
  • Muscle cramps 
  • Nausea  
  • Headaches  
  • Fatigue, dizziness, or fainting

Protect Against Heat Stroke  

Heat stroke can occur when the body is exposed to excessively high temperatures for an extended time. The body’s natural temperature regulating mechanisms fail, causing a fever and the potential to lose consciousness.

Symptoms of heat stroke include the following: 

  • A core temperature of 104 degrees Fahrenheit or higher 
  • Change in sweating patterns 
  • Rapid heartbeat 
  • Headache  
  • Red skin 
  • Confusion, agitation, slurred speech, or delirium  
  • Nausea or vomiting 

If left untreated, heat stroke can lead to muscle, kidney, heart, or brain damage or death.

Monitor Your Employees’ Work Schedule

Try to avoid having your employees work during the hottest hours of the day. For instance, have your employees begin work earlier in the morning, before the sun has had time to increase the temperature. This can reduce the time spent working outside during the midday heat. Also, if parts of the job require indoor work, consider having your employees work inside during the hottest hours and outside when the temperature is less extreme.

Provide Regular Breaks

Ensure your employees take frequent breaks. Continuous engagement in demanding work increases the odds of your employees becoming injured or ill. This is why they need additional breaks as the day gets hotter.

Remind your employees to sit down in the shade during breaks. If there are no trees or other natural sources of shade, you may need to put up tents, awnings, or other items to create shade.

Provide Water 

Remind your employees to drink lots of water throughout the day. Staying hydrated in the heat is vital for your employees’ health.

You may want to make available large coolers packed with ice and water. Also, ensure your employees are drinking water at least once every 15 minutes throughout the day. This applies even when employees don’t feel thirsty. Regular hydration promotes proper sweating to regulate the body’s core temperature.

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OSHA Updates for 2022

OSHA 2022

OSHA 2022OSHA compliance is critical for construction employers. Staying current on OSHA changes and programs helps you take action to increase protective measures for the safety of your employees. Although much of recent OSHA update coverage has focused on vaccine mandates, there are many other ongoing OSHA programs aimed at maintaining a safe work environment.

The following OSHA programs will impact your construction employees throughout 2022.

National Safety Stand-Down 

The National Safety-Stand Down increases fall hazard awareness to reduce the number of injuries and fatalities among construction workers.  

  • This voluntary event encourages employers to talk with employees about company safety policies and goals, the importance of fall prevention, and the use of protective methods.   
  • Conduct a Safety Stand-Down during a toolbox talk, safety equipment inspection, development of a rescue plan, or discussion of specific job hazards.  
  • Provide feedback about a Safety Stand-Down and download a Certificate of Participation from OSHA.

Heat Stress Emphasis Program 

A federal heat standard regarding heat injury and illness prevention in indoor and outdoor work settings is being formed.  

  • A reduction in the number of workers who die from job-related heat stress continues to be a growing priority.  
  • A program with national emphasis is being developed to protect workers from hot environments to reduce ambient heat exposure.  
  • A National Advisory Committee on Heat Injury and Illness Prevention is being formed to better identify the challenges impacting worker safety.

Other Programs Impacting Construction

  • The OSHA Fatality Inspection Procedures to Victim’s Family facilitates the exchange of information throughout the inspection and settlement process. This keeps the family informed of the status of the inspection, preliminary findings, any issued citations, proposed penalties, settlement, and closure of the case.  
  • The Combustible Dust program reduces combustible duty hazards such as explosion prevention and mitigation controls.  
  • The Lead Exposure program includes a system to measure lead exposure during inspections.
  • Trenching and Excavation emphasizes the reduction or elimination of workplace hazards related to these operations.

Programs with Regional Emphasis Impacting Construction  

Each of OSHA’s 10 regions may have programs that emphasize specific issues related to the construction industry.  

  • Seven regions, including the entire country east of the Mississippi and the Pacific Northwest, have programs regarding noise hazards in the workplace.  
  • All federal regions other than the Kansas City region and the South Pacific islands are focusing programs on fall hazards. 
  • New England, the Pacific Northwest, and Texas and the contiguous states are focusing special attention on construction cranes.  
  • Regions stretching from New York south to Virginia and west to Minnesota have programs focused on demolition.  
  • Nebraska and Kansas have programs emphasizing commercial and residential construction after severe weather. 
  • The Rock Mountain region has a program focused on asbestos abatement. 
  • New York, New Jersey, Puerto Rico, and the Virgin Islands have programs related to heavy highway and bridge construction.

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Spring Construction Safety Tips

spring construction

spring construction

As Spring nears, so does construction season. The longer hours of daylight provide more time to work. However, the unpredictable weather conditions can lead to an increased risk of accidents on the jobsite. This is why you need to be increasingly aware of how to reduce the odds of injuries.

Implement the following tips to increase safety while working on a construction site this Spring.

Wear Personal Protective Equipment

Spring construction sites can be wet, muddy, and windy, making it easier to slip and fall.
Wear waterproof boots with good traction.
Wear a high-visibility raincoat and gloves with a slip-proof grip to increase awareness of your presence in areas with vehicle traffic.
If you wear a hood, turn your head to look for vehicles and people in your peripheral vision.
Use anti-fog spray on your safety glasses to keep your vision clear.

Wipe Away Mud

Before mounting the equipment, clear any mud from the steps, the rungs, and your boots.
Mud can make the equipment slippery, which can lead to injuries.
Slow your pace to reduce the odds of getting hurt.

Increase Safety with the Excavator

Implement safety measures to reduce of odds of injury while using an excavator.
Check the ground for stability before moving an excavator across it. Soft ground can cause the equipment to tip or roll over.
Wear a seat belt when operating an excavator.
Use in-vehicle video cameras, proximity detection devices, tag-based systems, or a spotter to detect whether someone is behind you when backing up.

Wear Fall Protection Equipment

Spring winds and rain can make working at heights more dangerous.
Know how to properly fit a body harness. Have a partner check to ensure that all parts are properly in place and working.
Know the safe anchor points for a personal fall arrest system.

Maintain Scaffold Safety

Scaffolds may be used only when the weather permits, not during rain or high winds.
Make sure you are properly trained to use the scaffold.
Wear personal protective equipment such as safety glasses, work gloves, safety shoes or boots, and fall protection.
Know the weight capacity of the scaffold.
Be aware of any coworkers above, below, or next to you.

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