How To Provide A Safe Environment For Your Employees When Taking Them On-Site

Construction Site 2

Construction sites are naturally hazardous working environments. Health and safety is the first consideration for the industry and a best practice approach is fundamental to a successful project. When architects visit a site, it’s important to have an understanding of industry-standard process and procedure in order to maintain your own regulatory compliance and meet the welfare requirements of the onsite main contractor.

Staying safe onsite is about mitigating risk. Consideration of the prominent hazards that apply to all construction sites is vital. This knowledge should be complemented by site-specific recommendations (often found in the project’s risk assessment and method statement documentation) and via liaising with the project manager or health and safety manager/consultant.

Staying safe onsite is even more important when taking employees to a live project because you’re not just having to take care of yourself. 21% of all work-related deaths in the USA came from construction with, according to 2018 statistics, the role of the construction supervisor being the ninth most dangerous job based on the number of fatalities per 100,000 (with 134 fatalities recorded last year).

The growth of the industry means an increase in onsite incidents. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OHSA) lists falls, being struck by an object, electrocution and caught in or between objects, as the industry’s leading causes of death.

Though not on the list, another risk for on-site workers is lifting injuries. Heavy lifting can result in health hazards and hospitalizations that could be very costly. Australian lifting equipment company, Stenhouse Lifting, suggests that it would be best to hire professional services for any heavy lifting of equipment on site. 

Aside from ensuring the safety of your workers, they will also guarantee the safety of the equipment. This is crucial regardless of whether you own the equipment or had it leased for a specific period.

For architects and their employees, consideration of these factors will provide a better understanding of how to identify hazards and mitigate risk. While an organised visit will have protections in place – such as a qualified supervisor guiding your party and personal protective equipment (PPE) provided – a pre-visit briefing is beneficial to remind employees of their responsibilities. This can include addressing key advice offered by the OHSA and to detail any site-specific details that may have been provided by the main contractor prior to the visit.

Librarians in Hard Hats
“Librarians in Hard Hats” (CC BY-SA 2.0) by Blue Mountains Library

All site visits should clearly state beforehand factors such as party size and the reason for visit. A site representative should be available to answer any questions and show you around. This representative should also explain where first aid and welfare facilities are located as well as emergency procedures. You must also ensure you sign-in when you arrive and sign-out when you leave so your presence is known.

It’s also vital, as you’re responsible for your employees, that you’re covered against liability in the event of an accident occurring. Ensure you have a policy that covers employees when visiting a live construction project, such as the business insurance at Next Insurance, which offers general liability cover (offering protections due to accidents at work including physical injury and medical or legal fees) as well as professional liability and workers compensation.

When visiting a construction site, safety should be the first consideration. Risk can be mitigated by following the instructions of the site safety representative alongside an understanding on why policies and procedures are in place such as wearing relevant PPE, staying on designated walkways, noting site signage such as warnings and instructions, reading risk assessments and method statements, and possessing business insurance in addition to basic common sense.

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