Construction managers use many metrics to determine the success of a project, and safety is one of the key factors in the equation. Even if a project is completed on time and on budget, if there is just one safety incident, the project cannot truly be considered a success. For projects that require heavy equipment to access remote sites, maintaining a safe work environment around that equipment is an additional element that must be considered during the planning process.
The Importance of Safety in Site Access Jobs
Heavy equipment introduces a specific kind of hazard to a project site, and it is essential for all people on the site to have a healthy respect for it. This includes not only operators but also other crew members, subcontractors, clients, and visitors to the site. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) reports that an average of 15 people die every day at construction sites. With 20 percent of worker fatalities attributed to the construction industry, it remains one of the most hazardous private industries.
When you need heavy equipment to access the site, it is critical to understand all of the risks involved and take all possible steps to mitigate them and avoid preventable mistakes. When workers have unsafe access around heavy equipment paths, injury is always a potential result.
How to Maintain a Safe Work Environment with Heavy Equipment at Access sites
The best approach to safety is a proactive one. By ensuring that all people on-site have a solid understanding of the risks associated with heavy equipment on projects sites, planning ahead, and implementing safeguards, you can effectively prevent safety incidents.
1. Implement risk controls.
The first step to reducing risk is to eliminate all possible hazards. Of course, certain projects can’t be completed without the use of heavy equipment. When the risk can’t be entirely eliminated, it must be mitigated through risk controls. Always follow all applicable regulations that pertain to risk controls, including:
Posting clear signage about risks and how to avoid them
Ensuring crew members wear the appropriate personal protective equipment
Requiring workplace behaviors that contribute to a safe environment
Providing detailed standard operating procedures (SOPs)
Using verbal communication at crew meetings to reinforce the risks of working around heavy equipment
2. Create a culture of safety.
Minimizing safety incidents requires every single person on the job to be committed to creating a safe work environment. To do this, you need more than just training and compliance—you need commitment. Workers should feel empowered to speak up when they see a potential safety issue and participate in solutions. This type of behavior-based approach leads to greater compliance and a culture that keeps safety top of mind.
3. Communicate about potential hazards.
The conditions at work sites are dynamic, so it’s important to continually communicate as situations evolve. When it comes to heavy equipment access, keeping these communication tips in mind will help keep workers safe:
Share the plan: In order to stay out of the way of heavy equipment, the people surrounding it need to know what the operator plans to do.
Use eye contact: When approaching heavy equipment, workers should make eye contact with the operator to ensure mutual awareness.
Use hand signals: When radios fail or the surrounding environment is too noisy to effectively use verbal communication, predetermined hand signals can prevent a potential safety incident.
Post signage around hazard zones: Clearly mark the hazard area(s) where workers could be in danger because of heavy equipment.
These are just a few of the many communication tips and tools safety personnel can employ to maintain a safe work environment during access projects utilizing heavy equipment.
Safety Matters at YAK ACCESS
Creating a culture of safety also includes working with vendors and service providers that have the same mindset. You want to feel confident that everyone working on your site has the same commitment to safety that you do. At YAK ACCESS, we provide more than just materials and services. We provide a team that is committed to protecting one another when it comes to utilizing heavy equipment on construction projects and much more.
If you’re searching for access mats or a team that can prioritize safety, learn more about why safety matters at YAK ACCESS and how that mindset positively influences every project we touch.