Advancements are making construction workplaces safer thanks to innovative new designs that learn from the past and the weaknesses of equipment that has been used in construction for decades.
Construction firms that don’t keep up with the latest in safety devices are missing an opportunity to save lives, reduce workplace injuries and avoid costly workers’ compensation and liability claims. Many of these advancements, which have shown to significantly reduce workplace injuries and deaths, have already been adopted by construction firms in Europe.
If you are trying to make your workplace safer for your employees as well as third parties, you may want to look into the following ways to achieve this.
Lifts instead of ladders
Falls (particularly from ladders) are the leading cause of injuries on construction worksites. If possible, mechanized lifts are a safer substitution. Low-level access lifts aren’t one-size-fits-all. There are many options to choose from, whether you need a highly portable lift or an eco-friendly crank lift. These lifts allow you to fit into tight spots and reposition easily.
Safer electrical panels
Most electrical panels have metal doors that close and lock, making it impossible for workers to know if the panel is energized unless they open the door to check. A safer solution is to use windows on the panel so that workers can safely see if it is energized, before commencing work, reducing the chance of electrocution.
Safer fastener systems
Some of these systems drive fasteners into concrete with a tiny explosive charge that produces lead dust. Consider using another system that doesn’t use lead, a heavy metal that is dangerous if inhaled.
Safer steel framing studs
Many steel framing studs have sharp steel edges that greatly increase the risk of workers cutting themselves. In addition, to protect their hands, workers have to use gloves when carrying and installing these studs.
However, there are steel framing studs on the market that have rolled edges. They cost a bit more, but they provide protection against a common injury that can involve going to the hospital for stitches.
Drop-arrest hoisting systems
Using ropes to lift heavy loads is always fraught with danger. It’s not unheard of that material and equipment falls on workers below if the rope is suddenly released. To prevent that from happening, European contractors have increasingly been using drop-stop load arrestors, which will stop a load from falling to the ground if the hoist is suddenly released.
How they work: The drop arrestor’s spring-tensioned cable is connected to the load. If the device senses a fall when the connected object’s downward movement speed exceeds the lock-on inertia rate, the system arrests the fall.
Installing anti-slip floor mats on areas that get wet or are naturally more slippery can significantly cut down on slips and falls, which are one of the most common causes of workplace injuries. While people do fall from heights, the majority of slip and fall accidents are same-level incidents that can lead to long-term work absence and even permanent disability.
Auto shut-off saws
One manufacturer, Oregon-based SawStop, makes table saws featuring a patented automatic braking system that stops and retracts the blade upon contact with skin or flesh. Saws with this kind of system can greatly reduce amputations, which are common among people who use table saws.
While most saws have guards over the blades, auto shut-offs are an added safety measure that can give you and your workers peace of mind.
The above items have been highlighted because they are easy solutions that are within reach, but which many contractors are not taking advantage of. They also address some of the most common sources of injuries in construction worksites.