It’s the nature of the job; street construction is a hazardous environment! Work crews face many risks for injury under ever changing conditions that may present without warning.
Here at TraffiCorp, we keep the topic of safety at the forefront of our conversations to better ensure the safest and most efficient traffic management for the communities we serve.
Maintaining safety starts with our crews in the field. Slips, trips, and falls are the most common causes of injury which can often lead to lasting damage such as sprains, bruises, muscle tears, and fractures. The most catastrophic falls happen from height, but surface level injuries are quite common due to a number of factors. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, in 2018, 27% of the 900,380 nonfatal work injuries resulting in days away from work were related to slips, trips, and falls. This is a staggering amount and warrants some talk about preventing such injuries on the job.
What the work crew needs to know
Worksites offer countless distractions, ranking high on the list of causes to work related injuries. Environment, physical factors, and condition of the worksite can affect your attention, balance, and decision making abilities to the task at hand. Observation and evaluation is essential to discerning the ability of crew members to properly and safely complete a task.
Reduce the environmental impact of slips
Slips happen when there isn’t enough traction between your footwear and the surface you are on. Wet, slick, even dry surfaces and transitions from one kind of surface to another are all causes to lose traction. Loose gravel, debris, and stepping up/down from a vehicle or equipment are other factors to consider. It’s more a matter of when than if you find yourself on a slippery slope.
Eliminate factors for trips
Trips occur when stepping up or down levels or uneven surfaces or when your feet/legs impact an object. It isn’t just the wet or loose surfaces that can be hazardous. When the ground dries after large vehicles or equipment have left their tread when it was wet, large tracks can harden and create ruts, posing a serious trip hazard. Other trip risks include wires, cords for lighting and equipment, construction materials such a wood and metal, uneven surfaces such as ledges and cut-outs in asphalt, and many other ground-ridden objects.
Increase safety measures to reduce falls
Falls result from weight shifting too far off your center of balance and often involve some duration of whole-body free fall. Severe injury and fatalities are of the highest risk with falls. Any number of factors can influence a fall including weather, worksite conditions such as high elevations and pits, and physical factors such as illness and fatigue.
What the crew needs to do
A memorable way to retain what you need to do when arriving can save you some headache (pun intended) and takes just a moment. Do a walk-through and take a “S.I.P” of your worksite to make a pre-job brief:
- Scan – for debris, uneven surfaces, equipment, etc. on site to determine the working environment.
- Identify – potential hazards and make yourself mindfully aware of them.
- Predict – what kind of slip, trip, or fall could result from present hazards around the jobsite.
Prevention means attention
Once you have taken a S.I.P. of the construction site, determine what you and your crew need to do in order to reduce or eliminate hazards in the area for a lesser likelihood of an injury occurring.
- Always use proper footwear and secure laces well
- Walk the area and clear walkways for foot traffic
- Designate the walking areas with your crew
- Keep all gear and personal items such as lunchboxes in a designated area
- Move slowly and mindfully, keeping aware of surroundings
- Mark hazards with tape, cones, signs, and flags as needed
- Evaluate the need to travel wet or loose surfaces. If necessary, mark the area and adjust the pace before traversing
- Eliminate as many distractions as possible
- Keep an open dialogue with and a watchful eye on fellow co-workers