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Construction workers face numerous dangers on the job site, such as collapsing scaffolds, head injuries, electrocution and falls, to name just a few. To help construction-site managers mitigate these potential hazards, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has published a safety checklist. OSHA is a branch of the U.S. Department of Labor. It keeps track of occupational safety data across numerous industries. [See ref 1, “Safety Checklists”]
Workers should wear face protection such as safety glasses or face shields when they are grinding, nailing, welding, cutting, working near electrical hazards or using any material that could fly up and hit them. Workers should wear helmets when there is danger of falling objects. Shoes should have reinforced toes such as steel tips and should resist sole punctures. Finally, workers should wear thick gloves for certain tasks, such as welding and electrical work.
Scaffolds and Ladders
Collapsing scaffolds and falls from ladders are serious hazards on construction sites. Workers should routinely inspect scaffolds and ladders to make sure they are in proper working condition and are not exceeding the manufacturers' recommended weight restrictions. Workers should set up scaffolds and ladders only on sound footing. For exterior construction, OSHA warns workers not to use scaffolds or ladders within 10 feet of power lines or during bad weather conditions, such as on windy or rainy days.
Electrocution is a constant risk on construction sites. To avoid problems, workers should only use electrical devices and cords recommended for heavy-duty use. OSHA also offers the following suggestions: Always shut off power to systems before working on them. Clearly identify all live power lines to prevent mishaps. Replace frayed or broken cords and devices. Also, use grounded-type (three-pronged) electrical devices and extension cords.
Other Safety Issues
Due to the complexity of a construction site, always guard against hidden dangers by taking proper precautions. For example, heavy equipment, such as cranes and forklifts, requires experienced and competent operators. Other suggestions OSHA offers are to keep a list of any hazardous materials on-site and clearly mark them with the appropriate warning signs. Train workers who use hazardous materials to deal with any emergency situations. Also, be sure to cover any large openings in floors to prevent falls, and set up guardrails in high areas that do not have walls.
Stan Mack is a business writer specializing in finance, business ethics and human resources. His work has appeared in the online editions of the "Houston Chronicle" and "USA Today," among other outlets. Mack studied philosophy and economics at the University of Memphis.