Safety News Roundup for April

Safety News Roundup for April

10th April 2020

April promises to bring us new challenges in terms of health and safety at work. The situation is changing on a daily basis, but a round-up of the main issues shows that businesses and workers are starting to come to terms with their new reality.

COVID-19 Construction Safety Guidelines Issued

The Los Angeles Department of Building and Safety has become one of the first authorities to provide specific safety guidance for construction workers that is aimed at cutting the spread of COVID-19 between construction workers.

They have called on all contractors and employers to limit the exposure that workers face on sites. This includes introducing a range of sensible measures such as social distancing, symptom checking and decontamination procedures.

The importance of good hygiene and appropriate training has also been mentioned in their report. Every site should have a designated COVID-19 supervisor on site at all times, although it can be any on-site worker who carries out this additional role.

Any zones where workers may be forced into close proximity, such as hallways and elevators, should be identified and controlled. It has been reported the LA authorities could step in to close down any construction sites where these measures aren’t being put into action.

Safety When Working Alone

One of the key issues facing many workers this month is in dealing with working alone. Social distancing measures have led to a high percentage of the global population being forced to stay at home all day long.

In most cases, lone workers work online using a computer or mobile device, rather than at height or in other potentially dangerous situations. However, as the lockdown continues, it is possible that businesses will need to find new ways for their staff to carry on working.

The key piece of advice for lone workers is to raise any concerns with their employers as soon as possible. No one should carry out work alone that they haven’t been trained for or that they feel may be unsafe for any reason.

For their part, employers need to listen to staff issues and do everything that they can to ensure a high level of safety at all times. It is also good practice to arrange for staff to check on each other at set times, such as at the start and end of each day, to quickly identify any possible problems.

Using the Right Equipment

The likes of face masks and gloves have now become standard safety equipment for most of us. Yet, it is important to remember to continue to use the usual protective safety wear provided.

Fears over the coronavirus pandemic don’t supersede the already identified safety issues that we have always taken great care over. A hard hat, work boots, harness and fixed access ladder are all still essential when working at height in the construction industry, for instance.

One worry here is whether using the new safety gear can be done safely while maintaining the same high standards as before. For example, could you carry out construction work on a tall building while wearing a face mask that protects you from infection, or would it prove to be impractical for longer periods of time?

It is clear that there are still some major safety issues to be addressed in the coming months, as the situation evolves and new guidelines are issued by the relevant authorities.