Construction Safety: What Can Singapore Do?
Construction safety in Singapore’s reputation has recently been tarnished by fatalities. What can companies do to keep workers safe and move forward?
In light of the recent construction incidents, construction safety has been a major concern at the multiple construction sites across Singapore.
In fact, the Ministry of Manpower (MOM) had carried out an inspection in as many as 214 construction sites, and they found that 191 of those sites violated workplace safety rules.
Most of the cases mainly involved not installing guard rails and not barricading the open sides of the buildings.
This puts the workers at risk of either falling off of buildings or being struck by falling debris and tools.
Tan Chuan-Jin, Manpower Minister revealed that Singapore’s workplace death rate fell to its lowest ever in 2014 – 1.8 deaths per 100,000 employees, down from 2.3 in 2013.
But this still meant that 60 lives were lost in 2014. He urged businesses to do more and get that number down to zero.
No doubt, construction work is a dangerous job, but with proper precautions and following construction safety rules, you can be protected at your workplace.
We’ve compiled a list of few things that people working at construction sites in Singapore can follow.
Using Tools Correctly for Construction Safety
Tools and various construction equipment are at the core of any construction sites. Using them correctly will ensure that you’re safe at your workplace.
- Always use the tool that is intended for the task and not a makeshift one.
- If you use poorly designed or inadequate equipment, it can lead to health hazards like carpal tunnel syndrome.
- Tools that have cords or hoses need to be handled with care. Always ensure that they are far from sharp edges, water, heat, and oil. Also, never carry or yank a tool by their cords or hoses.
- You need to protect your ears and eyes from intense vibrations and noises. If possible, opt for power tools that have lower vibrations, muffled noises and longer trigger tools.
- While using hand tools, ensure that they don’t conduct electricity or heat.
- You always need to be aware of your surroundings. Look out for any overhead lines, low clearances, obstructions, underground utilities and other such obstacles that could be a lethal hazard or a nuisance.
- Your workplace’s safety program is issued for a reason. Understand and follow it at all times for your safety.
- If you feel that a tool is damaged, don’t use it. Always examine the tool that you intend to use and ensure that it’s clean and in proper working condition.
- Consider investing in construction safety programs for your employees to keep them safe.
Ensure Construction Safety on Scaffoldings
Considering that a majority of the construction workers spend a lot of time on scaffoldings, it’s imperative that they are as safe as possible for the workers.
Putting up the scaffolding:
While putting up the scaffolding, always ensure that it’s on a solid surface. The scaffolding itself must be robust, rigid and have a high weight capacity.
It should be enough to support its own weight as well as 4x the maximum anticipated weight!
- Don’t support the scaffolds on uneven surfaces, planks or unsteady and portable objects like concrete boxes, loose bricks, and barrels.
- Ensure the scaffolds are at least 10 feet away from any power lines.
- A supervisor qualified to oversee the putting up and dismantling of the scaffold must be present on the site to ensure it’s done right.
- No matter how strong the scaffolds may seem, never make a mistake of overloading them.
Check the scaffolds before putting them up:
If you feel that the scaffolds have weakened or are damaged, don’t use them. You can ensure the solidity and safety of the scaffolds before using them by following the below construction safety tips.
- The platforms need to be tightly planked. Preferably with scaffold plank grade material.
- Ensure the mid rails, toeboards and guardrails are sturdy.
- Before any changes and shifts, a qualified supervisor should inspect the rigging to check for any damages.
- The natural and synthetic ropes of suspension scaffolding should be kept away from any heat.
- Any weakened, damaged or unstable supportive structures like ladders, trusses, braces, ropes, rails, and brackets should be replaced immediately.
One of the most crucial things that you need to remember is that everyone is in danger around scaffoldings.
So always look out for yourself, your colleagues and anyone below!
The risks of falling off or being crushed by something that is falling truly exists in this arena. So keep your eyes and ears open at all times.
Climbing Ladders and Stairs on Construction Sites
Construction sites are not the final structures. Hence, they are more prone to accidents than any other workplaces.
If you let your guard down, it can be hazardous not only for you, but also your colleagues. You’ll benefit from keeping the following things in mind:
- Before stepping on stairs or ladders always inspect them. If you feel that something appears damaged, defective, weak, worn or loose, don’t step on them.
- Whenever and wherever possible choose elevated platforms or aerial lifts instead of balancing yourself on a ladder. These are much safer options.
- However, if you do need to use ladders, use safety net systems and body harness if chances of slipping and falling exist at the location.
- While installing guardrails, ensure toeboards, control line systems, and warning lines are always in place.
- The steps should always be kept clean, clear and dry.
- The ladder that you use needs to be at least three or four feet taller than the spot that you need to reach.
- If there are things that you can’t easily reach from the ladder, never try to overreach them. You can easily lose your balance and fall off.
- While climbing and descending ladders, wear a tool belt and keep all the required tools in it. You need to keep your hands free at all times.
Since construction sites are primarily a dangerous workplace than most other workplaces put together, it’s crucial that all the employees undergo basic and specialized training where applicable.
If you’re looking to improve your productivity on your various construction projects, you can check out the construction machinery suppliers’ listings and select products that can enhance the safety and productivity at your workplace.