Attention all contractors and construction professionals: We know construction sites can be dangerous, and disasters-whether they be extreme weather or faulty machinery-can be unpredictable. Based on OSHA recommendations, from developing emergency preparedness checklists, to training employees, implementing severe weather plans, and more, read on for five job-site safety tips for mitigating damages caused by a disaster, and what to do in the aftermath.
Identify All Risks
It's important to remember that no two job sites are the same. While one construction site may be prone to flooding, another may pose fire risks. Step one is identifying all the possible risks and worst-case scenarios that can occur-from natural to human-caused incidents. Think severe weather, like hurricanes and earthquakes, or man-made disasters caused by fire, or even criminal activity.
Develop a Disaster Preparedness Checklist
Once all potential risks have been identified based on the job site, it's time to create a disaster preparedness checklist. Each list should include specific details on what to do in case an emergency strikes-and who on the team is responsible for what. In addition, consider including areas and equipment that need protection, like cranes, generators, and other tools.
Within your checklist, be sure to discuss an evacuation plan with your crew, the appropriate emergency service departments that may need to be contacted (fire, police, etc.), and any other safety information your crew needs to know-like where to find fire extinguishers. Review the checklist in great detail with all construction crew and team members beforehand so there is no confusion should there be a real emergency on site.
Prepare for Severe Weather
As mentioned earlier, no job sites are exactly the same, and weather patterns in one area may be completely different from another. Be sure to check the forecast before starting a project, and remember, in some instances, it may take you by complete surprise, so have a backup plan.
Included in your checklist should be a plan for earthquakes, hurricanes, wind hazards, heavy rain, thunderstorms, lightning, hail, drought, heat, ice, snow, and more. Supplies, tools, and procedures may differ based on site-specific risks, and understanding your needs can help you prepare for the unexpected and prevent loss or injury.
Establish a Safety Zone
As part of your preparedness checklist, construction companies should establish a safe zone off-site if a disaster strikes. This is where all crew members know to go to seek safety and can access reference materials, such as the emergency plan, blueprints, and contact information easily and efficiently.
Train Construction Crews
In addition to reviewing a complete checklist, inclusive of evacuation procedures and emergency contacts, employees should be fully briefed on how to mitigate risks-and what to do in the aftermath of a disaster. While having a plan will help to keep your crew safe, it doesn't wipe away all risks. Keep your crew up to date with all safety procedures and reinforce practices through consistent training, drills, and courses. Invite safety professionals and emergency response teams to host seminars. Ensure all employees are familiar with resources like FEMA emergency management tools, OSHA safety efforts, and guidelines for additional job-site best practices. Your response to these emergency scenarios can save timelines, money, and even lives.