The list of possible construction site injuries is endless. The dangers are exacerbated when the project involves multiple levels, such as on high-rise construction sites. Are you a construction crew member working at such a site? If you are, it would be a good idea to familiarize yourself with the safety precautions your employer must put in place to protect you and the rest of your crew.
The California Division of Occupational Safety and Health mandates that a competent person must assess potential safety hazards even before the workers set foot on the site. Hazard assessments must be a part of the project planning. Based on those assessments, they can allocate workers with appropriate skills and ensure the necessary safety training. You and your co-workers are entitled to be made aware of all the potential hazards and how to mitigate the risks.
Falls top the list of dangers
Falls from heights form a significant percentage of construction site fatalities. Therefore, if you work on a high-rise project, your employer must have a fall prevention plan in place covering the following:
- Fall arrest systems for all the workers, adequately fitted to each person
- Demonstration of the proper way to wear it
- Demonstration of the correct way to set up the equipment
- Safety training in the use of the harness, anchors, lanyards and other parts
Safety training should include the importance of inspecting the fall arrest equipment before each work shift and recognizing damage, defects or wear on any part of the system.
If your employer disregards safety training, complacency might be an added hazard.
Other essential PPE
Based on the hazard assessment done during the planning stage, other essential personal protective equipment must be identified and made available on site:
- Hard hats for lower-level workers to protect them from dropped objects
- Hard hats for all workers in areas on-site where overhead equipment like cranes move building materials
- Protection for eyes, hearing, hands and feet
- Respiratory protection if you are involved in scaling, sandblasting, paint removal and other tasks that free up dust or lead-containing materials
Working at heights in fair weather is dangerous, but adverse weather multiplies the fall risks. Knowing the risks allows you to mitigate the following dangers:
- The higher you work, the higher will be the dangers posed by extreme weather conditions.
- If you dress in too warm clothes on hot days, it could lead to dehydration.
- If you do not dress warm enough on cold days, impaired movements could cause sprains and strains.
- Carrying loads and gripping tools in high wind conditions could cause you to lose your balance.
A fall on a high-rise construction site could cause spinal cord damage or brain injuries that might end your career. However, the California workers’ compensation program will have your back. Benefits typically cover medical expenses and lost wages, but the severity of your injuries might make you eligible for permanent disability benefits. You might also receive vocational rehabilitation to learn new skills to prepare you for a different career.