Construction work is undeniably physically demanding and involves long hours of laborious tasks. Operating heavy machinery, lifting and carrying large objects, climbing ladders, working in awkward positions, and enduring extreme weather conditions are all part of the job.
It’s no wonder that such demanding conditions can take a toll on the health and well-being of construction workers. However, there are certain tools and techniques that can make their lives easier and reduce physical burdens.
This article provides 8 practical tips for contractors and construction companies to enhance the day-to-day work experience for their employees. Taking these steps will not only benefit the workers but also improve productivity and efficiency on site.
Reduce Travel Stress
Traveling to and from a construction site can be stressful for the workers, especially if they have to deal with traffic, harsh weather, or dangerous routes.
Travel stress can affect their physical and mental health, as well as their productivity and performance. Therefore, it is important to reduce travel stress as much as possible. Luckily, there are many ways to do that:
For instance, schedule your workers’ travel arrangements in advance and provide them with clear directions and instructions. Also, inform them of any changes or delays as soon as possible. And if feasible, provide transportation for your workers to and from the site. This can save them time, money, and hassle.
Moreover, look for affordable corporate hospitality housing options instead of booking generic hotel rooms for long-term projects requiring overnight stays. A comfortable living environment can make workers feel less stressed, better rested, and more productive.
Provide Proper Protective Gear
Providing personal protective equipment (PPE) like hard hats, steel-toe boots, earplugs, safety goggles, gloves, and respiratory masks is crucial. PPE protects workers from common on-site hazards like falling objects, sharp tools, hazardous materials, loud noises, and dust.
Ensure all gear meets industry safety standards. Train workers on how to properly use and maintain PPE. Also, conduct inspections to check if workers are using the equipment as guided.
Provide amenities like cooling vests, hydration packs, and tinted safety glasses to make work more bearable in hot conditions. Protective gear significantly reduces injuries and health issues, making work less taxing.
Use Ergonomic Tools and Equipment
Using ergonomically designed tools and equipment reduces strain on the body from repetitive motions, awkward positions, and vibration. Here are some ways to implement this option to make construction work easier:
- Provide hand and power tools with grips and handles that allow neutral wrist postures.
- Invest in construction equipment like excavators, loaders, and cranes that have adjustable seats, joysticks, and controls oriented to the operator’s natural range of motion.
- Ensure tool belts and harnesses distribute weight evenly across hips and shoulders.
- Consult workers to identify problem equipment and modify or replace it with more ergonomic alternatives.
Provide Proper Lighting
Ensure adequate lighting in all work areas, including indoor, outdoor, underground, and night work sites. Use natural light where possible supplemented with artificial lighting like floodlights and portable light towers.
Also, lighting should minimize glare and not create harsh shadows that impede vision. Position lights to illuminate walkways, stairs, ramps, and hazardous areas.
Select cool light sources like LEDs to reduce eye strain. Install emergency and backup lighting in case of power failure. Provide headlamps or flashlights for mobility in dim areas. Proper lighting prevents eye fatigue, headaches, and injuries due to poor visibility.
Implement Proper Material Handling
Manual material handling like lifting, lowering, carrying, and pushing/pulling is a leading cause of strain and injury. Follow these tips to prevent these strains and injuries from occurring:
Use material handling equipment like trolleys, carts, wheelbarrows, hoists, and conveyors instead of manual lifting.
Train workers on safe lifting techniques. Recommend bending knees, keeping back straight, holding the load close to the body, and avoiding twisting.
- Establish clear load weight limits based on the worker’s capability.
- Arrange staging areas to minimize carrying distances.
- Place materials at waist height to avoid excessive bending or reaching overhead.
- Ensure clear walkways to prevent slips/trips/falls when carrying loads.
Offer Comfortable Break Areas
Adequate breaks allow the body to recuperate from strenuous activity. So, provide clean, sheltered break areas where workers can rest, eat, hydrate, and take refuge from the weather.
Allowing short breaks as needed can boost productivity and morale versus strictly scheduled breaks. Offer cool drinking water to prevent dehydration which can cause fatigue, dizziness, and cramps.
Also, provide hydration packs for mobility. Accommodate weather conditions by offering coolers, shade, and misting fans in high heat. A comfortable break area shows workers their needs are valued.
Offer Health Screenings and Wellness Programs
Offer voluntary health screenings to provide insight into each worker’s fitness for duty and any early signs of injury or illness. Screenings can include physical evaluations, vision/hearing tests, bloodwork, etc.
Additionally, provide access to health specialists like doctors, massage therapists, and nutritionists. Implement exercise regimens to improve strength, flexibility, and cardiovascular health.
Train Supervisors on Safety and People Skills
Supervisors have the most direct interaction with workers daily. They need proper training to lead teams safely and effectively. So, teach supervisors to identify and correct hazards, enforce safety guidelines, provide feedback on worker technique, watch for signs of injury/illness, and coordinate tasks to minimize strain.
Moreover, ensure supervisors recognize each worker’s needs and struggles. Keep supervisors informed on assistance programs like EAPs to refer struggling workers. Well-trained supervisors who engage with workers daily play a critical role in making work easier and safer.
Encourage Stretching and Warm-ups:
Implement stretching and warm-up routines to help workers’ bodies acclimate at the start of shifts, after breaks, and during repetitive tasks.
Target major muscle groups like legs, back, arms, and neck that see the most construction work strain. Identify pain points and offer stretches to address them. Or you can consider hiring an on-site massage therapist or yoga instructor.
Construction work inevitably involves physical demands. Yet small efforts by employers to promote workers’ health, safety, and well-being can make a big difference in easing daily rigors.
So, follow these above-mentioned tips to reduce the occurrence of injuries in the workplace and boost morale and productivity. After all, investing in the workforce benefits both workers and the company!