10 Tips for Working With Hazardous Materials on Construction Sites

Construction sites are the foundation for how buildings and structures come to fruition. They are some of the most critical areas for safety, too, as they have various potential hazards. It is important for workers to take precautionary steps to prepare for any situation.

The hazards at construction sites include sharp materials and edges, chemical substances, debris and more. As workers venture into these sites, they must have the proper training and knowledge to handle a dangerous situation.

Here are 10 tips for working with hazardous materials.
1. Procedures and Protocols
One of the first steps of any job is learning the responsibilities, duties and tasks that come with each role. These protocols should be easily accessible for workers so that everyone can follow their proper roles.

Following procedures with materials and tools is crucial, too. Workers should only use materials for their intended function. With everyone on track with their corresponding responsibilities, the site will run productively.
2. Training
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A worker will follow their protocols most efficiently after receiving thorough training. Proper training is key for all employees to understand how to best complete tasks safely and productively. Every scenario requires training.

With instructions and guidance on how to handle hazardous materials or even regular tools, workers are more likely to avoid errors and work smoothly. Training is an ongoing process, too, as things change and adapt depending on the situation.
3. Fall Protection
Falling is one of the top hazards at construction sites. Falling can entail a number of different outcomes, too. For instance, surfaces that have sharp or harmful edges can injure someone in a fall.

Some precautions include safety nets, guardrails and harnesses that hook onto secure platforms. If a worker were to fall with toxic materials, that could worsen the injury as well. Ensuring protection around every corner is the best way to prevent this hazard.
4. Face Protection
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Another form of required safety preparedness is protection for the face and eyes. With safety goggles, workers can ensure the protection of their eyes from things like dust, particles, chemicals, liquids, acids and more.

Some workers may require additional face protection if they have different needs or roles. If someone is welding, for instance, they will require a welding helmet.

Face protection includes breathing as well. Pre-1990 buildings may have asbestos, so workers will want to stay informed about all things asbestos and other related hazards.
5. Head Protection
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Welders' helmets are not the only form of head protection on construction sites. Regular helmets or hard hats are standard safety necessities.

Hazardous materials could be any number of things. From airborne materials and particles to electrical arcs and debris, workers need headwear to protect themselves from it all. Make sure all headwear is intact and usable, too.
6. Proper Storage
The workplace consists of two areas: the construction site and the home building. Handling and storing all materials properly requires attention to the classifications. Workers will need to make sure all hazardous chemicals and materials have proper labels.

They also need to make sure they read the labels and store everything under the proper conditions, temperature-wise. Adhesives, paints and cleaning fluids may call for different storage.
7. Safety Protocols
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General job protocols show workers their responsibilities and roles. However, safety protocols differ in that they are specifically for guiding employees through handling and storing tools and hazardous materials.

Keeping all areas clean and washing hands are two basic steps that can go a long way. Safety protocols should be available physically and digitally for easy access at all times.
8. Emergency Procedures and Equipment
When safety protocols aren't enough, emergency procedures step in. These explain protocols for situations involving fires, spills, evacuations and more. An emergency is just that, so emergency procedures can help skip the anxiety over what to do in-the-moment.

Some emergencies require medical assistance, too. Site protocols should reflect each possible emergency scenario. This way, when things go wrong, workers will know what to do to help diffuse the situation.
9. Exercise Caution
Construction sites can be dangerous places. The best thing to do in any situation is to exercise the utmost caution. A worker can never be too careful. When in doubt, be cautious and ask questions.
10. Communication
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Communication and feedback are the foundation for any company and workplace. Between supervisors, coworkers and bosses, communicating back and forth will foster the best and safest environment.

Workers should feel comfortable communicating what's working, what's not and what the company can improve upon. With constructive feedback that works both ways, the construction site can become as safe as possible.

With these fundamentals in mind, your construction site can become as safe as it is productive.

About the Author: Emily is a green tech writer who covers topics in renewable energy and sustainable design. You can read more of her work on her blog, Conservation Folks.

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