Construction sites are often crowded and busy work environments. Large construction projects, in particular, typically have large numbers of contractors and subcontractors working on different tasks simultaneously. It’s already challenging to keep so many people in compliance with safety regulations, so when site visitors are introduced, the headache often multiplies.
Suppliers, financial managers, project owners, and others who visit construction sites are often not aware of the safety regulations in place on-site. That means that on-site managers are responsible for ensuring that everyone is using the right safety supplies and obeying regulations. In this piece, we’ll discuss seven key tips for keeping visitors safe on your construction site.
- Provide in-person guidance for visitors who need it.
One of the most important things you can do for visitor safety is to provide an appropriate level of in-person guidance to visitors. Some visitors, such as building inspectors or project owners, will likely expect to receive this guidance anyway, so it’s important to establish procedures for who will take on the responsibility of guiding them.
This can be particularly important if your visitors aren’t familiar with the typical workings of a construction site. By providing visitors with effective guidance, you’ll help prevent them from injuring themselves or others. One key tip is to schedule visits as far in advance as possible to ensure that appropriate guides are available.
- Make it easy for suppliers to drop off materials quickly and safely.
Materials suppliers typically don’t want to linger on a job site, and it’s in your interest to make sure that they don’t have to. By ensuring that suppliers can offload their orders as quickly and safely as possible, you can reduce the number of people on your job site and help suppliers do their job more efficiently.
Typically, this will involve setting up a designated materials offload zone and marking how to get there. Try to minimize the distance that a supplier has to travel across the job site to drop off materials and provide them with a path that’s as free of hazards as possible. Finally, create a check-in process for suppliers that provides them with clear directions and warnings about potential hazards.
- Ensure that job site guests are wearing the proper PPE.
Every visitor to your job site needs to be equipped with the correct protective gear. For most construction sites, this will include some combination of the following:
- Hard hats
- Work gloves
- High-visibility vests
- High-visibility jackets
- ASTM safety toe footwear
- Hearing and eye protection
PPE requirements will vary widely by job site and the type of work being performed. Additionally, make sure to keep extra PPE on hand to ensure that it’s easily available when needed. Preparation is a key part of safety on any job site, and part of how you should prepare to host visitors is by preparing spare PPE.
- Be aware of COVID-19 regulations and implement appropriate precautions.
As the world struggles to get back on its feet from the COVID-19 pandemic, construction sites need to do their part in preventing further spread. One crucial part of that is obeying all relevant pandemic-related precautions to reduce the chance of spreading infection through visits to the site.
COVID-19 precautions that your job site may require include:
- Enforcing social distancing procedures and creating reminders through signs and decals
- Requiring visitors (and possibly workers) to wear face coverings
- Regularly sanitizing high-touch surfaces
- Requiring the proof of vaccination for visitors and/or workers
Of course, the pandemic situation continues to evolve, so pay close attention to messages from local health authorities and tailor your rules to fit this guidance.
- Keep the job site as clean and tidy as possible.
A cleaner, more organized job site is a safer job site. Good organization and tidiness minimizes unpredictability and opportunities for accidents, which means it’s critically important at any time, but doubly so when visitors are present on-site.
These are some basic steps that will help you create a tidy job site:
- Provide multiple conveniently located waste receptacles so that workers don’t have to wait to dispose of waste.
- Create systems to organize the storage of tools and materials.
- Keep an eye out for snag points like exposed rebar ends or protruding nails.
- Remove obstructions from stairs and walkways.
- Maintain restroom facilities in a clean and hygienic condition.
- Secure your job site to keep out unauthorized personnel.
No job site needs “visitors” who aren’t supposed to be there in the first place. If your job site doesn’t feature controls to keep out unauthorized individuals, it can create hazards that affect the safety of legitimate visitors, workers, the general public, and the individuals entering the site. These are some of the most common precautions that you’ll find on most job sites to prevent unauthorized access:
- Check-in procedures and identity badges
- Chain link fences, sometimes with privacy barriers
- Barbed and/or razor wire on top of fences
- Alarms and/or motion sensors
- Paid security guards
- Secure, out-of-sight storage for any equipment or materials that make attractive targets for thieves
- Know the unique conditions of your job site and be prepared to address them.
Every job site is different and comes with different hazards that need to be accounted for. Managing visitor safety involves identifying these hazards and making sure that visitors are aware of them. Some hazards that are commonly present on construction sites include:
- Extremely cold or hot weather
- Falling object or flying debris hazards
- Open pits, ledges, or other fall hazards
- Heavy equipment and material loading zones
- Hazardous materials such as caustic chemicals
- Open flames from welding
- Exposed electrical elements
This list is far from exhaustive, so every site manager must conduct a job site hazard analysis and pinpoint areas of concern. Remember also that the hazards present on a construction site will likely change throughout the stages of the project, so periodic re-evaluations will often be necessary.