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Construction sites have a reputation for being dangerous places to work.

It’s true that construction sites are inherently hazardous environments. Carelessness is also one of the root causes of a vast majority of onsite accidents. Simple mistakes can have a huge impact. 

But with a healthy and resilient approach to onsite safety, you can minimise risks and ensure that workers are as safe as possible.

Scruffs, one of the UK’s leading experts in innovative safety wear have outlined some of the most common construction site mistakes. With the right Personal Protective Equipment (PPE), and with a lot of common sense, you can do your part to ensure your own safety, and the safety of your team.

Not Taking Adequate Precaution When Working Up High

Many onsite accidents involve falling from ladders, platforms, roofs, and scaffolding. The best way to address this is to only work in high places when necessary. If an item can be assembled on the ground before being hoisted up, you should always choose this approach over the alternative.

You should also keep both your raised surfaces and the area immediately below as free from clutter as possible. It’s all too easy to trip on a messy scaffold platform, while the slightest bit of clutter below can make a bad fall even worse.

Beyond this it comes down to the equipment you use. It’s impossible to even estimate how many lives are saved each day by guardrails, toe boards, safety nets, and harnesses.

Careless Use of Ladders

You should never use a ladder if you can use a sturdy and secure mobile lift instead.

But if you must use a ladder, take care where you put it and how you use it.

It is understood that you should never place a ladder on a slippery or uneven surface, and that includes placing them on top of scaffolding platforms to make them higher. 

Also, when using the ladder, you should always aim to have three points of contact – one foot and two hands, or two feet and one hand. This means you should carry your equipment in a tool belt, so that both of your hands are free to provide support.

Carrying Heavy Objects by Hand

Use trolleys, lifts, and wheelbarrows to move heavy objects like tools and machinery. Carrying these items by hand can be dangerous in itself. But if you should trip or slip while carrying something heavy, you can make a bad injury much, much worse.

Poor Pathfinding 

Take the time to identify the safest route from A to B, and make the path clear to everyone using lighting and signposts. A safe path will avoid uneven surfaces and areas where dangerous work routinely takes place overhead. This will reduce the risks of slipping, tripping, and being struck by falling objects.

Insufficient PPE

Hard hats and high-visibility vests are a given, but the correct approach to PPE will provide you with head to toe protection.

For instance, your safety shoes need to tick a lot of boxes. They need to be comfortable, secure, durable, and as weatherproof as you need them.

All safety footwear comes with its own set of safety ratings. Learn and understand what the various ratings mean and you should have no difficulty finding the right shoes for the job.

For example, S3 rated shoes are antistatic, resistant to fuel oil, energy absorbent, fully waterproof, and offer midsole penetration protection. 

Neglecting to Carry out Routine Inspections

Everything you work with should be inspected regularly to check that it’s still in good working order, and that it doesn’t let you down.

Take your tools, for instance. If you don’t get into the habit of regularly examining your hammer, then there’s every chance that its head might one day fly off while you’re using it. 

And if you’ve got any vehicles onsite, never take it for granted that the brakes are in good working order. Because if they’re not, you’ll only find out when it’s too late.

Remember – onsite safety is everyone’s responsibility. Do your bit and encourage your team to do theirs.


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