Protecting Workers from Elements out of Your Control

There are many aspects of a job site that can be controlled.  You can control what safety gear (PPE) workers wear, you can ensure all your workers complete safety training and know how to work safely before even setting foot on the site.  However, there are some aspects and elements out of your control.  That can be anything from weather to drunk drivers to third-party violence or theft.  Employers should know what their responsibilities are when it comes protecting workers in regards to these things out of their control.

The Heat

When it comes to weather, heat can put a lot of burden on a project.  The summer months are fast approaching and the health of your workers out in the heat should be considered.  In extremely hot areas like Arizona, many projects get moved to night time operations.  Even at night during the summer Arizona can be in the high 80s.  But, without the sun beating down on you, it’s more bearable.  Drinking a good amount of water while working during the hot months is very important.  Dehydration can be just as dangerous as heat stroke.  Taking care of yourself and avoiding over exertion during the summer months can keep you on the job and earning.

Drunk Drivers

Working at night can avoid the heat, but it includes an inherent danger that is also out of your control.  Working at night, specifically highway work crews are at risk of being hit by a drunk driver.  In fact, according to “the Federal Highway Administration’s Work Zone Management Program, there were 669 work-zone crash deaths, almost two per day and 2% of all roadway fatalities nationwide.”

You cannot control if there are or how many drunk drivers are on the road at night.  But, you can control the safety measure put in place.  For example, Skanska USA Civil takes the safety of their workers very seriously.  Positive protection is used to route traffic through a work zone.  They use things such as concrete or ballast-filled barriers, shadow vehicles, or devices that will absorb a crash.  The positive protection measures create a buffer between traffic and the workers.

Photo credit: Halo Light by Illumagear
Photo credit: Halo Light by Illumagear

Visibility is a concern, drunk driver or sober driver.  At night, even with the standard reflective gear a vehicle may not see the worker until it is too late to make a course correction.  Skanska USA Civil uses a Halo Light from Illumagear that provides a 360-degree illumination.  They’ve also advocated for stricter safety rules.  There was a time when hitting a construction worker with a car in California was only a $300 civil fine.  However, now it is an assault that comes with a higher fine and possible jail time.

Outside Crime and Theft

Job site crime is another concern that is out of the worker’s control.  Employers do have a responsibility to protect their workers and that “owners of the premises have a common-law duty to keep the job site safe from reasonable and foreseeable risk.”  However, this can vary from state to state.  Measure can be put in place to protect workers from outside crime.  If the site is in a high-crime area the owner of the project could utilize security guards or surveillance cameras.  The cost of the two are much less than damage to equipment and workers or loss of property.  It’s smart to consider these measures during every stage of the planning process.

The simplest way to avoid crime on the job site is to communicate with the community.  The likelihood of violence directed towards workers decreases when the locals are hired to work on the site.  Furthermore, a good crime deterrent is to have a consistent policy of prosecuting violent offenders or theft.  This makes your site much less attractive to criminals.

Weather, drunk drivers, and outside theft/crime are all elements out of your control.  However, with some consideration and planning you can put preventative measures in place to avoid them.

 

Original sources: ConstructionDIVE and NPR

Header image source: Pensar Development