Construction is considered to be the most dangerous land-based work sector in most parts of the world. In Europe it is second in danger only to the fishing industry. Construction safety statistics in the European Union show that the fatal accident rate in the construction industry is almost 13 workers per 100,000 as compared to 5 workers per 100,000 in the all sector average. The United States fares no better with 6% of workers in the construction industry but 20% of the fatalities.
In the United Kingdom the construction industry represented over 40% of the total number of fatalities which were reported among the major four industry sectors.
Safety standards employed by most of the industry players in South Africa in the construction sector (which is the fastest growing in the economy) are way too low and they fail to provide workers with adequate protection. Safety barrier fencing should be used at all times in conjunction with other safety measures.
A sub-Saharan regional director of DuPont, Carlman Moyo, a market-driven science group, said recently that while there were pockets of excellence in safety on local construction sites, the level of construction safety in South Africa was generally low compared with world standards.
The problem with construction safety is that it is not that the hazards and risks in the workplace are unknown but that they are extremely difficult to control in a constantly changing work environment.
What are the hazards to construction workers?
Leading safety hazards on a construction site are falls from height, excavation accidents, electrocution, machines, motor vehicle crashes and being struck by falling objects. Health hazards on a building construction site are asbestos, solvents, manual handling activities and noise.
The leading cause of injury in the construction industry is falls from heights. It is essential to use fall protection in the form of solid safety barrier fencing for the protection of workers in areas and activities that include ramps, runways and other walkways, hoist areas, excavations, formwork, leading edge work and holes. Other hazards include unprotected building sides and edges, roofing, precast erection, wall openings, residential construction and other working and walking surfaces and these areas should also use solid barrier barricade fencing for the protection of workers and the public.
Fall protection can be provided by safety systems including the Protect-in system developed in Spain and now in South Africa. Protect-in construction safety barrier fencing is eco-friendly, it is reusable for up to 2 years and it can also be used as a surface on which to advertise and brand your own company or as a means to earn extra income by allowing other companies to advertise on the barrier. The system is lightweight and easy to assemble and to pack up when moving to another construction project.
All employees should be trained to understand the proper use of any system and to identify the hazards. One other advantage of the Protect-in system is that it is possible to screen-print safety rules to the barrier making it visible to workers at all times.
Ensure your construction company takes care of safety and health on site by employing safety rules and by using a construction safety fence.