Dealing With Hazards Toolbox Talk

In this toolbox talk, learn how to identify hazards on a construction site and how to control them. Plus, learn the most common hazards of a construction site and how to avoid them.

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Hazard Identification, Recognition & Control Safety Talk

Because of the nature of the job, construction work is much more dangerous than almost any other line of work possible—you are constantly dealing with hazards such as heavy machinery or potentially dangerous chemicals. These hazards add up, and if not handled properly, can cause bodily harm to you and the people around you. In this toolbox talk, we will discuss how you can recognize and control the safety hazards at your job site, as well as some common construction site hazards to look out for.

How To Recognize & Control Hazards Properly

One of the worst things a supervisor or site manager can do is task employees with working around a hazard rather than addressing it properly. Unfortunately, this happens far too often in the construction industry. These issues should be addressed immediately, not thrown on the back burner.

Here are some examples of safety hazards and adequate controls:

  • A piece of metal is sticking up out of the ground in a work area on a construction site. An employee lets his fellow workers know of the presence of the metal; however, that is all the action that is taken. Anyone walking through that area still has to deal with that hazard. A more effective response would be to call a piece of heavy equipment over to remove the metal from the ground.
  • A leaky pipe is causing a wet spot on a factory floor. The leak was spotted months ago, but the only response was to put a sign up warning personnel of slick conditions. Taking the time to fix the pipe properly ensures employees do not slip on the wet conditions.
  • You see a coworker backing up in a skid steer every time they do a certain work task without a spotter. Being more experienced, you know that he is backing up blindly and if anything or anyone would be in his path of travel, they would definitely be struck. You make a mental note to avoid his work area. Instead of just making a mental note to yourself to stay away, take the time to have a conversation with the individual to discuss a safer and more efficient way to complete the task.
  • The point is, you shouldn’t just "deal" with hazards. You should make a concerted effort to completely get rid of hazards altogether. Simply relying on our co-workers to avoid the hazards themselves is a recipe for disaster.

    Common Construction Site Hazards

    As we mentioned above, working constriction is dangerous by nature. Many workplace hazards can be dealt with before they cause issues, but some hazards simply come with the job. It’s up to both the employee and the company to successfully recognize and control these hazards through training and attentiveness. Some of the most common hazards of a construction site include:

    Heights

    According to recent research, over a quarter of worker fatalities were from a heights-related fall, making working from heights the most common cause of fatal injuries to workers. If you are a supervisor, you need to be sure that all of your employees who work at height are thoroughly trained and experienced to do the job. You also need to be sure the proper equipment and fall protection measures are involved. Here are some of the ways you can avoid a heights-related accident:

  • Avoid working at height where possible. For example, if something can be assembled on the ground level, do it there.
  • Use equipment with an extra level of safety to reduce the risk of a fatal fall. For example, a scaffold with a double guard-rail.
  • Minimize the consequences of a fall, for example by providing a safety net.
  • Moving Objects

    Another unavoidable risk is moving machinery. It's unavoidable in the sense that this machinery will always be on the worksite. Accidents caused by moving machinery can be avoided if proper precautions are taken. Heavy equipment such as supply vehicles, lifting equipment, and diggers can all pose a threat. Here are some of the ways you can deal with that threat:

  • Avoid working close to the moving object.
  • Be vigilant of their surroundings, especially if the object does not have lights or beepers.
  • Wear Personal Protective Equipment (PPE), such as a high visibility jacket, to ensure they are seen.
  • Slips, Trips, and Falls

    Slip, trips, and falls are a danger no matter where you work. For example, a wet floor at an office job caused by a recent mopping can lead to slippage. Climbing the stairs can lead to falls. These risks become more apparent when working in construction. Here are some common causes of slips and trips and how you can avoid them:

  • Uneven surfaces – The risk of these can be reduced by providing walkways that are clearly designated as walkways, having good conditions underfoot, and being well lit.
  • Obstacles – Instances of slipping and tripping over obstacles can be dramatically reduced by everyone keeping their work and storage areas tidy and designating specific areas for waste collection.
  • Trailing cables – Cordless tools should be used where possible. If this is not possible, cables should be run at high levels.
  • Wet or slippery surfaces – If a surface is slippery with mud it should be treated with stone, and if it is slippery with ice it should be treated with grit. Any areas that are slippery should be signposted, and footwear with a good grip should be worn.
  • Noise

    Unfortunately, many construction workers are unaware of the long-term damage noise can cause until it’s too late. Hearing protection PPE is required on the worksite to prevent noise induced hearing loss. When you are working with heavy machinery and heavy materials, loud noises are bound to happen. Without proper equipment, these loud noises can take a toll over time, leading to hearing loss or tinnitus. Make sure your ears are always protected when you’re on the job.

    Hazard Recognition Starts With You

    Working in construction is dangerous. You don’t need us to tell you that. Unfortunately, so many of these workplace injuries can be avoided with proper safety protocols. Recognizing the dangers of construction work and taking steps to mitigate that danger is required.

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