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Safety Matters

Construction workers are involved in many activities that could expose them to dangerous hazards, such as unguarded machinery, falling from rooftops, ladders and scaffolds, being hit by heavy equipment, electrocutions, silica dust, and asbestos.

Regardless of developments in construction safety equipment, technology and training, the construction industry continues to face high rates of fatal and non-fatal injuries and accidents among its workers.

Recently, New York City’s “zero tolerance” safety sweeps resulted in thousands of violations and nearly 1,500 stop work orders issued at construction sites across the five boroughs to prevent worker falls and other injuries. Safety inspectors visited about 7,500 building construction sites. They issued more than 3,600 violations to contractors for failing to keep sites safe. The sweep came after seven fatalities at New York City construction sites happened in the first five months of this year.

Ensuring maximum safety requires investment in appropriate education for workers. For example, techniques like “3 points of contact” help reduce falls, which are the leading cause of death and injury among construction workers. In the meantime, an accurate understanding of equipment, like aerial lifts or cranes, is vital to avoid accidents involving falling objects or collisions. Lastly, better communication, whether with a safety plan, or particular communication like hand signals.

OSHA recommends that every single employee receives sufficient and comprehensive training to learn how to follow OSHA compliance requirements. Employees should be able to access the OSHA construction safety manual for future reference and receive a personal copy of all policies, procedures, and safety rules that the company enforces.

Ask yourself the following questions at work:

- Do I know the safety procedures for this job or task? Are they adequate? Do I really understand them?

- What personal protective equipment do I need? Is it in good condition? Is it adequate?

- What tools and other equipment do I need to do the job safely? Are they the correct ones? Are they in good condition? Do I know how to use them?

- Are there other risks to my safety or the safety of others? What if something happens quickly or unexpectedly? Do I know how to respond to avoid injury?

The human mind is one of the fastest processors of information. We should be constantly thinking about safety.

-Michael Weber


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