When construction and renovation projects are on the agenda, many organizations do not have the option of closing their doors for an extended period. They must stay operational out of financial necessity or the critical nature of their business. Whether at an office, healthcare center, retail space, or any other workplace, keeping both the occupants and construction workers safe must always be a top priority.
MOORING implements a series of best practices that can be applied to nearly any job site where “business as usual” is a must. Here are our tips to help things run smoothly for everyone involved.
TENANT SAFETY CONSIDERATIONS
Unobstructed exits. At all times, exits should be clearly marked and unobstructed for access in case of an emergency.
Temporary containment. One of the most important ways to maintain a sense of normalcy and safety for a building’s occupants is the implementation of temporary containment systems. These systems keep construction dust and debris away from those in the operational portions of a building. There are several types of containment systems to consider depending on specific needs and showcase our recommended options in an in-depth article highlighting the benefits.
Structural work. Any kind of structural work that could potentially endanger the occupants should only be performed during non-business hours. As a best practice, notification should always be sent to the facility manager or other person in charge to ensure that the entire building remains vacant.
Uninterrupted services. The whole point of embarking on a construction project while everyday operations continue inside an already-occupied structure is to keep things as normal as possible for the occupants. Heat, air-conditioning, hot and cold running water, electricity, and gas service should remain uninterrupted during business hours. In the case of facilities that remain open around the clock, a plan should be implemented to keep service interruptions to a minimum. With any other potential inconvenience or safety implication to occupants, adequate notice should be provided with the expected beginning and end time of any temporary utility shut-off.
Adequate signage. Directing the public away from hazardous areas is an obvious but essential way to avoid potential injury to both workers and the laypeople who might otherwise find their way into a work zone. Clearly mark jobsite perimeters with appropriate signage. The use of universal symbols, as well as multiple languages, increases the likelihood of observance of the warnings.
WORKER SAFETY CONSIDERATIONS
Keeping tenants safe and comfortable during a renovation or construction project is only half of the battle. Ultimately, the project will be at least somewhat of an inconvenience to people’s day-to-day, so finishing the project quickly and preventing delays should always be part of the equation as well. In addition to the more obvious factors of project management expertise and logistical proficiency, a company’s safety practices, and track record often factor into its ability to wrap up a project on time. Even the slightest safety protocol lapse or minor jobsite injury can cause delays. When selecting a construction firm, we recommend evaluating contenders on the factors listed below.
OSHA training. Workers (particularly project managers, foremen, safety coordinators and specialists, and field supervisors) should have comprehensive OSHA training to ensure compliance throughout the length of the project. Not only does adhering to OSHA regulations maximize the safety of a site, but it also reduces the risk of hefty fines for noncompliance. Even though training takes a considerable amount of time, the investment pays off in the long run by preventing avoidable injuries and setbacks.
Leadership. Safety training can be rendered irrelevant if the best practices are not prioritized and enforced by leadership. Safety protocols must be maintained and always practiced by project leads as an example to everyone. A top-down approach reinforces the importance of a safe workplace and sets the tone for the entire project.
Reinforcement. As important as it is to train workers, it is equally vital to engage in regular, weekly safety updates and ongoing training. Conducting regular toolbox talks and evacuation drills should be standard practice for your firm.
Take your time, do it right. Leaders should also reinforce the importance of not taking shortcuts that could lead to injury. Knowing and maintaining proper form when lifting heavy items can protect individuals, while team lifting may be necessary in many instances. Using ergonomic tools and properly navigating scaffolding, ladders, and other equipment may seem common sense, but sometimes seemingly innocuous tasks can be the most hazardous if shortcuts are taken.
Neatness counts. Organization and tidiness should not be overlooked or underestimated. Falls remain the leading hazard for construction workers, but many can be avoided simply by maintaining a clutter-free work site. By immediately attending to liquid spills and scattered debris (including dust and dirt), as well as keeping pathways clear of equipment and other obstructions, the likelihood of an avoidable slip or fall can be dramatically decreased.
PPE. Personal protective equipment became a mainstream buzzword in 2020. Every American now understands the importance of PPE, but it has been a necessary precaution taken by those in the construction field in some form or fashion for decades. Helmets, goggles, gloves, elbow and knee pads, and proper footwear are popular PPE used by workers to protect themselves from injury.