Danger can come from all angles when you work on a construction site. Yet maintaining a constant 360-degree awareness is incredibly difficult when you need to focus on the task at hand.
Employers need to realize this and do all they can to keep their workers safe. They need to constantly assess how activity or changes in one area could affect someone in another.
Work at height can affect those below, and work below can affect those at height
An employer telling someone to work at height must take steps to safeguard anyone who might pass below. Examples could include mandating that climbing workers attach their tools to their belts with leashes in case they drop them and erect netting or boarding around scaffolding to prevent debris from falling to the ground and injuring someone below.
Employers must ensure a safe area around the base of a ladder or scaffolding to prevent someone on foot or in a machine or vehicle from bumping into it.
Upslope work can affect people downslope and vice versa
If a digger accidentally knocks materials stacked at the top of the site, where might they end up? Could something roll downslope into a ladder or scaffolding or onto workers standing below?
Where will the water go if someone cuts through a water pipe? Could it seep through the soil and destabilize the walls of a trench people are working in downslope?
What if a machine operator digs out more than they should, weakening the upslope wall of a hole or trench and causing it to collapse? The loss of the earth might cause a minor landslip upslope, which could be enough to destabilize and topple a scaffold tower with workers on.
An employer’s failure to consider every element of a site could leave you needing to learn more about your compensation options.