Construction Worker Safety Tips during COVID-19
What are some safety tips for construction workers during COVID-19?
- Wear protective gear
- Minimize physical contact
- Practice proper hand sanitation
- Clean tools thoroughly
- Limit in-person meetings
- Regularly clean work areas
COVID-19 has drastically altered the way industries conduct everyday operations and processes. There has been a renewed focus towards constant sanitation, as well as prioritizing the health and safety of everyone. Since quarantine restrictions began easing, some industries, including construction, have started operations, albeit at limited capacity. With this in mind, every employee should have been made aware of the proper construction worker safety tips during COVID-19 especially if people are working in closed-spaces or open-air locations. Continue reading to learn more.
Wear protective gear
Construction workers are no strangers to workplace accidents that occur daily. They’re constantly operating different tools and machines — not wearing the right kind of protective gear can easily make a worker vulnerable to different construction site hazards.
A contractor or a manager of a construction company should be able to provide the workers with adequate personal protective equipment, or PPEs. These can range from face shields, face masks, sterile gloves, goggles, and the like. PPEs should be worn on top of the standard construction site gear that workers are already making use of.
Face masks, for example, should be worn alongside woodworking goggles. However, soft PPEs should not take the place of hard hats, hearing protection, or safety boots that the employees need when working with a vast medium of tools. This is so that they will be protected from both falling debris and dangerous air particles.
Minimize physical contact
Social distancing should also be applied in construction sites. Traditional practices that require face-to-face interaction are no longer feasible because of the fear of cross-contamination of the virus. With this in mind, another workplace safety that construction workers should follow has to do with minimizing physical interaction with other people.
Ensuring the safety of a site should be a collaborative effort among management, employees, and clients. A simple way for the workers to maintain social distancing would be to follow floor markers that are strategically placed around the worksite. As much as possible, only a few people should be working in a particular area. Construction companies should meticulously study the layout of the site to determine the right techniques to apply social distancing.
Practice proper hand sanitation
As many people begin returning to work, companies should begin considering investing in critical, low-value items. Aside from PPEs, they should be able to supply their employees with a consistent stock of sanitation materials such as wipes, tissue, hand sanitizers, alcohol, soap, and other types of disinfectants.
The construction workers may not necessarily be able to provide their own personal sanitation items such as the ones mentioned above. Worksites should have these items at the ready, ensuring that they’re easily accessible by all the workers who are on the job. Apart from this, building owners should ensure minimum standards regarding building utilities. Running water should always be available for everyone as a good practice of proper handwashing.
Clean tools thoroughly
The sharing of tools is something unavoidable in construction sites. Even if workers are already wearing protective gloves when working on materials such as pipes, planks, or drills, these tools should still be spotless before and after every use.
There is a wide availability of cleaning implements on the market that are suitable for worksite tools. It’s typically advised that each tool be washed with a mild soap that won’t corrode the material, or distort its quality. After rinsing, the tool should be cleaned with a damp cloth. Construction workers should be well-informed about this measure beforehand and should be reminded as they’re on the job. On another note, it’s also important that heavy equipment such as forklifts, bulldozers, tractors, and the like, be also cleaned.
For best results, it’s advised that the employees also avoid sharing and passing around the same tools. Contractors should supply them with sufficient materials and equipment for the workers to do their job safely and efficiently.
Limit in-person meetings
Living in the new normal is all about adapting to the current pandemic situation. As much as possible, construction workers shouldn’t be exposing themselves to the outdoors. They’re already at risk of contracting the virus by simply being present on the site. Keeping this in mind, they should have the freedom to opt-out of in-person meetings that may very well endanger their health.
Companies should provide their workers with the right kind of resources if meetings are to be conducted online. They hold the responsibility of providing the worker with equipment such as laptops, phones, computers, or internet service, if necessary. All of these are essential in conducting safer remote meetings, without sacrificing the employee’s health.
Regularly clean work areas
Cleaning work areas should also be another priority when it comes to cultivating a healthy construction site environment. Aside from standard practices like sweeping, or vacuuming, there should also be a focus on disinfecting the work areas.
Utility carts, woodworking tables, and other industrial-grade machines should be inspected before and after usage to ensure they’re safe for handling. More than one person will likely be making use of a working area — cleaning it for the next person assures that no contamination and exposure to hazardous substances will take place.
Some construction worker safety tips during COVID-19 that should be followed include reducing physical contact, wearing the right PPEs, and constantly sanitizing each working space. All of this is essential in attaining worksite safety, especially as operations begin resuming at a small capacity.
As mentioned before, employee safety is a collaborative effort among stakeholders, clients, contractors, and management. Since the workers are the ones who are risking their lives just to work, they need to be accommodated with the right safety practices for the duration of their employment.