Thursday, May 1, 2014

Safety: Improper operations of vehicles and equipment on residential construction sites

Safety: Improper operations of vehicles and equipment on residential construction sites

In today’s world of building custom homes safety has become the highest thing that is worried about to the point that it is more important than quality, scheduling and cost.  The rules and regulations regarding construction site safety have changed so much that everyone on construction sites must think safety first, the health and welfare of the construction employee is the most important thing today.

There is a lot of focus at working at heights and guardrails on residential construction sites but not a lot of attention paid to the proper operation of vehicles and equipment on these sites. This can potentially be a larger and more dangerous threat to construction workers then an improper guard rail.

There are several key factors that make residential construction sites dangerous when it comes to the operation of vehicles and equipment;

Residential construction sites are usually smaller then commercial sites. There are more vehicles, workers and equipment packed into a smaller space.

Residential construction sites do not have the luxury of parking enforcement, security guards, parking lots or shuttle buses. This means that it is left up to the individual to find a place to park that will not be in the way of others and construction equipment.

Most goods that are delivered are off loaded by hand by workers.

Residential construction sites usually are very muddy, rut covered and is usually difficult to do snow removal.

Homeowner involvement. Residential construction is one of the few industries where the client routinely shows up unannounced and tours the site, walking wherever they want and parking where they please.

There is an up shift in the amount of heavy equipment that is being used on residential construction sites. Small excavators, forklifts, skid steers and zoom booms are all being used more often to move equipment and material around worksites. In the past these jobs where done by labour but with the rising cost of labour it has become easier to use equipment.

Man lifts such as knuckle booms and scissor lifts are replacing the need and use of scaffolding. This is a direct response to the heightened safety requirements for working at heights. These machines are large and can require a lot of room to move around and reposition.

With all of this going on if the site does not have good policies on when and where people should be parking and what supplies are arriving someone could easily get hurt. This equipment is so large and heavy that one mistake could be life changing.

All heavy equipment where it is a man lift or a machine to move supplies should have a spotter, this will allow the machine operator to concentrate on the operation of the machine and not worry as much about the workers and vehicles that are around them. These machines have large blind spots and almost always require help backing up and turning around.

The best thing to do is to designate one person to be in charge of the site traffic, they do not have to do it all the time, but they need to be able to answer questions for other trades and help out when an extra pair of eyes are required.

Rob Abbott
Operations Manager
Village Builders Inc.

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