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Construction Hazards Lurking on the Jobsite: Can Your Employees Identify Them?

Toby Graham /

Keeping workers safe is crucial for any company, but the stakes are particularly high in construction. At the most basic level, your workers should be aware of potential construction hazards that relate to their discipline. Basic training can give someone a general idea, but all workers should be informed of the hazards specific to a jobsite.

In addition, OSHA requires a “competent person” to be onsite, which is someone who:

  • Is capable of identifying existing and predictable hazards in the surroundings, or
  • Working conditions that are unsanitary, hazardous, or dangerous to employees, and
  • Is authorized to take prompt corrective measures to eliminate them.

Look to the Regulation Topics for Examples.

Excavation standards state, “Daily inspections of excavations, the adjacent areas, and protective systems shall be made by a competent person for evidence of a situation that could result in possible cave-ins, indications of failure of protective systems, hazardous atmospheres, or other hazardous conditions. An inspection shall be conducted by the competent person prior to the start of work and as needed throughout the shift.”

A competent person needs extensive training. A 20-minute module doesn’t cut it when the job hazards can change day to day or even hour to hour. The person must know, for example, how excavation hazards can change on a jobsite when it goes from dry to inundated with rain in the space of an hour. To obtain that level of knowledge may more like a four-hour training on excavation alone.

The Cost of Construction Hazards

The costs related to the inability to identify hazards on the job are the same ones we’ve been talking about—injuries, deaths, time off of work, and lost productivity. You can also incur hefty OSHA fines, especially when the incident involves a death.

How to Help Your Employees Identify Construction Hazards on the Jobsite

Provide proper training for your “competent persons.”

By way of training and/or experience, a competent person is knowledgeable of applicable standards, is capable of identifying workplace hazards relating to the specific operation, and has the authority to correct them. Some standards add additional specific requirements which must be met by the competent person.

Complete a job hazard analysis for every job. Taking the time to preplan can save you lots of headaches. Analyze that specific job: the hazards for that job, how to mitigate them, and what equipment you’ll need. Create an equipment list for that job. Distribute those documents to everyone who will be on that jobsite. Avoid the “No one told me” argument and make sure the right equipment is at the job on day one.

Complete a job hazard analysis for every activity/project/phase. For example, if you’re starting an excavation, conduct a hazard analysis and communicate those hazards to employees, along with specific control measures you’ve taken to mitigate the hazards and the PPE they’ll need on the jobsite that day or for that phase.

Build the cost of training and preplanning meetings into your budget and bids.

KPA Helps Keep Your Workforce Safe

Keeping workers safe is crucial for any company, but the stakes are particularly high in construction, given that the industry is responsible for one in five job-related deaths. That’s where KPA can help. KPA’s got the training, tools, and talent to protect both your employees and your bottom line. Let us show you how >>

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