Construction sites contain many pieces of large moving equipment that can be hazardous as you walk through the job site. Jim discusses these hazards and provides recommendations to avoid being struck by vehicles and equipment.
- We've covered quite a few conditions that can be safety hazards on construction sites. We've looked at trip and fall conditions, hazards related to working at heights, hazards from overhead that fall into that struck by category we discussed at the beginning of the chapter, and hazards from things like traffic, equipment, vehicles. But before we wrap up this discussion on safety hazards we need to look at a few more obstacles that we tend to encounter on many sites. I've mentioned cranes a couple of times already, but I want to revisit this piece of equipment that's very common on construction sites.
They have some unique properties that you need to be aware of. Cranes come in all types and sizes from truck mounted boom cranes to heavy lift cranes to tower cranes, and all of these tend to have some features in common when it comes to hazards that we need to be aware of. When I talk to people on construction sites about cranes the first thing I try to make them aware of is the fact the operator will not be paying attention to you no matter who you are or what you're doing unless you're the one person that's signaling that crane.
That operator is trained to watch the signaler and the load that they have suspended, and that's it. This means that if you're standing or walking near a crane it's your responsibility to be aware of its movements. Many cranes have what we refer to as a large swing radius, and that radius can extend outside of the space that's occupied by the crane's supports. Standing inside that swing radius would fall into that caught in between hazard category.
In other words, there's a big potential to get crushed between the crane's counterweight and the crane's outriggers. Yes, obviously the best safe practice here would dictate that this entire swing radius area be barricaded off, and it should be. But everyone should be aware of the hazard and understand just how large some of these crane movements can be and how fast they can happen. And cranes aren't the only thing with an extended swing radius, either. Many types of lifts, including reach lifts for personnel, have a counterweight that sticks out and gives it a large path to travel that would be extremely dangerous to anyone standing in its way.
These personnel lifts are typically operated by somebody up in a basket who is trying to move and get into position to get their work done and they don't always look down to see who is in the way. Again, proper practice says they should barricade off their work area or use a spotter on the ground but they don't always do that, so people need to know not to stand near this equipment. While we're navigating our way around the job site let's talk about trenches and excavations. Many sites are going to require the installation of underground utilities, and that means we're going to have to dig a trench.
Again, just like fall protection, trench safety could take up an entire course and anyone working inside a trench needs to have that very specific training in trench safety. This will usually include things like how to classify soil types so we know when the sides of the trench need to be shored or how far back we have to slope or bench a trench to avoid the risk of getting caught in a cave in, and that's all a little beyond the scope of this particular course. But I do want you to recognize trenches and excavations as hazardous areas and recognize the fact that if you haven't been trained in trench safety you shouldn't be inside of one on a job site.
Let's look at one last obstacle you might encounter while you're walking around the project. On any site we're going to need materials to build with. Sometimes these get delivered and moved immediately into place, but many times they get delivered and stockpiled. Stockpiles of materials can present another caught in between hazard because sometimes they're not always stacked very well and these piles might not be completely stable. Again, the common threat here is knowing where it's safe to stand and walk.
Don't assume that every pile of materials on the site is perfectly stacked and stable. Things move and shift, and sometimes the piles get bumped by equipment causing them to come tumbling down, and when the piles get stacked really tall an equipment operator on the other side might not even know where you're standing. Learn how to recognize these hazards and obstacles. If you need to walk around the job site to find something and you're not sure where you should or shouldn't be, ask somebody. No one wants to see anyone on a project get injured.
Keep yourself safe by getting the proper training for your task and by not playing those odds. Keep others safe by helping them to do the same and by being proactive when you see something that isn't safe. We've covered quite a few safety hazards on job sites. Now stick with me and let's continue on and look at some common health hazards that we might encounter on a project.
Throughout this course, Jim highlights some of the most notable safety and health hazards in the industry—including fall hazards, traffic accidents, and respiratory hazards—and shares strategies for integrating safety, quality, and productivity. He also explains how to leverage technological advancements such as digital drawings to help your team work safer and smarter.
- Recognizing health hazards in the industry
- Integrating safety, quality, and productivity
- Creating a culture of learning
- Recognizing leading indicators
- Using digital solutions to improve safety
- Using BIM to identify hazards early