The old saying goes that April’s showers bring May’s flowers. However, these springtime showers may not be so great for your worksite. The weather of spring can wreak havoc on an outdoor worksite, unless you’re prepared for it.
The best way to keep your workers safe and your work area as hazard-free as possible to be aware of the best practices and risk management tools associated with springtime worksite safety. You should also be sure that your workers are educated on the topic, as well. You may want to enroll them in safety training programs on a regular basis. Once everyone involved knows how to keep a site protected from common springtime hazards, everyone on the site will benefit. Implementing the following tips could spare you from a lawsuit – even more importantly, doing so could prevent one of your workers from getting badly injured on the job.
- Wear the Right Safety Gear
When they’re on a worksite, workers should always wear the right kind of safety gear (generally known as personal protective equipment, or PPE). Depending on the nature of your worksite, proper safety gear for the head and face might include safety googles, a hard hat or helmet, and a face shield. PPE for the legs and feet may include protective leggings and safety shoes with toe guards. To shield the arms and hands, people on a worksite may need to wear protective gloves. Fall protection gear is also essential if employees are working from any height at all. PPE to offset falls could include safety belts, safety harnesses and lifelines.
All of the safety gear that should be worn anyway may be particularly useful during the springtime. If an electrical hazard should occur due to the weather, a worker who is properly protected could be saved from irreparable harm. The right kinds of safety gear may also protect your workers from the dangers of flooding and other weather-related issues.
- Prepare for the Weather Hazards of Spring
Springtime weather can be dangerous. Depending on where your worksite is, your workers may experience the effects of lightning storms, tornadoes and floods. Create an emergency action plan for your employees, and be sure that every worker on your site is fully aware of this plan.
Make sure your employees understand that a lightning storm should be taken very seriously. If thunder and lightning are on the horizon, your workers should take cover immediately. Any person left standing on a roof, a scaffold or on open ground could be struck by lightning. This could lead to serious injury or even death. In the event of such a storm, your workers should either seek shelter in a building that is enclosed or in a vehicle with no windows open.
If the area of your worksite is prone to tornados, being prepared is one of the most important things you can do to limit damages. If underground shelter is nearby, that is the best place to stay during a tornado. If this type of shelter does not exist, then workers should get inside the closest building that contains a small, windowless room or hallway. If no such building is available, workers should get into a vehicle as quickly as possible, fasten their seatbelts, and drive the vehicle to the nearest building that can provide them with shelter.
As spring showers rain down on your worksite, your employees need to know what to do in the event of a flood. Be aware of the evacuation guidelines provided by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) – and make sure all of your workers know them, too. For everyone’s safety, evacuation procedures should be practiced as a matter of routine, and only properly trained workers should be involved in the cleanup of hazardous materials spilled in a flood. If any workers need to drive somewhere immediately after a flood, they should know that many flood-related fatalities happen in vehicles. Be sure they know never to drive a vehicle into standing water – if water begins to rise while your workers are in a vehicle, they need to exit immediately.
- Emergency First Aid
No matter how carefully you prepare your employees and your worksite for the potential problems caused by spring weather, mishaps can still occur. Always have plenty of first aid supplies on hand, and be certain that your workers know where they are and how to utilize them properly. OSHA recommends that one person be put in charge of obtaining and maintain the first aid supplies for a worksite. The minimum requirements for a worksite first aid reserve may include items like bandages, skin wash, and antiseptic treatment applications. The full list of requirements may be supplied at the website for the American National Standards Institute (ANSI), and the guidelines and best practices associated with first aid may be found at the OSHA website.
Keeping your workers safe should always be a top priority. By implementing a few tips on proper safety gear, emergency preparedness, and first aid, you could help your employees to stay free from harm. Be sure to invest in good construction liability insurance, as well – because unfortunately, some accidents and disasters simply cannot be avoided.
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*Allied does not deem this blog entry as a complete and thorough listing or overview of the above topic, and does not recommend it be primarily relied on. It only highlights some common issues and resolutions. For a thorough overview, please contact Allied’s Risk Engineering Division.