Do you know what to do if there’s a construction accident on your project? Does your crew know what to do if there’s an accident?
It’s terrible when there’s an accident on a construction project, especially if someone is seriously injured. None of us really wants to think about an accident so often we and our crew are unprepared when an accident strikes. Yet being prepared for the worst, and having our crew prepared for an accident may just be the difference between life and death for someone.
Construction is an inherently dangerous occupation and regrettably, accidents regularly occur on construction projects and they strike unexpectedly, even on safe and well-managed projects.
Often time is of the essence when there’s an accident. Emergency services must be contacted and they must have directions to get to the scene of the accident as quickly as possible.
What to do when a construction accident happens
1. Contact emergency services
Does everyone on your construction project know who to contact in the event of an accident? Some projects are spread over large distances – can crews contact emergency services in the case of a construction accident? Sometimes small crews are left after hours to finish off work – will they be able to call for assistance if there’s an accident? Work crews must have access to a working telephone or radio. Note that some projects in the country, particularly in hilly areas, may have parts of the project without mobile telephone reception so always ensure that workers can communicate in the event of an emergency.
Providing every worker with a safety card of emergency numbers, including the contact details for company managers, which they keep in a wallet or pocket will mean that emergency numbers are always close at hand. Add the project address to the card so the person can immediately tell emergency services where they are. Even have new project workers input these numbers into their mobile phones during their inductions.
2. First-aid facilities
Fully equipped first-aid kits must be available at key points on the project. These locations should be clearly signed so they can be found in an emergency. Unfortunately frequently items are removed from first-aid kits and they aren’t replenished, so the temptation is to lock the kits away. However, it’s vital that first-aid kits are easily accessible in an emergency, even after hours. It won’t help if the first-aid kit is in an office on the ground and the crew is working on the fifteenth floor of a high-rise building, or the kit is in a vehicle that has left the project on an errand.
Of course, it would be terrible to open a first-aid kit in an emergency to find that it is incomplete and critical items you require aren’t there. It’s therefore important that first-aid kits have a list of their contents. The kit must be regularly checked and missing items replaced.
Some products have expiry dates and these should be checked and expired products replaced. Preferably there should be a first-aid register to record treatments given and the products used. This register could be key to tracing treatments provided should the treated person’s condition deteriorate. It also serves as a way to track what products have been issued from the kit.
There should be at least one trained first-aider on all projects and preferably only they should draw items from the first-aid kit. The work crew should never be allowed to take items from the first-aid kit unsupervised unless it’s an emergency. Anyway, all items removed should be recorded.
Why don’t you attend a first-aid course? Your new knowledge could save a life – at work, even at home, or anywhere at any time. Don’t stand helplessly when there’s an accident – an understanding of first-aid could help you save a life.
What to do when there’s a serious accident
All workers on construction projects must attend a project induction. One of the topics discussed should be what to do in the event of an accident and who to call. In most areas, the hospital, doctor or ambulance crew will require details of the company’s health insurance, so it’s vital to have the necessary documentation handy so that the injured person can speedily receive the best treatment.
In the event of a serious accident the injured person should be removed from immediate danger. Emergency services should be contacted. Someone should be sent to meet the emergency services, possibly to the project entrance or nearest road intersection, so they can direct the ambulance or fire tender to the scene. Emergency first-aid should be applied.
Shut down operations in the area. Ensure the area is safe. This could include shutting down power and gas supplies. If the accident is on a road set up warning signs and barricades to stop or divert the traffic.
Before the ambulance leaves find out where they’ll be taking the patient. Secure the injured person’s personal effects so that nothing goes missing.
Management should be notified. The client should be notified. Always take photographs of the accident scene as soon as the situation is under control. Note the names of witnesses. For serious accidents and incidents cordon the accident area off. When there are serious injuries and death the authorities will have to be notified, which could include the police and the department of health and safety.
Where the injured person is a union member their union will have to be notified. Insurers should be notified where there’s damage to a building, equipment, or someone that doesn’t work for your company is injured. The next of kin of the injured should be notified of the accident and which hospital the person has been taken to.
After the accident
The status of the people involved should be checked, and management and the client updated on their health and recovery. If it’s somebody in your crew visit them in hospital and ensure that they are being looked after.
All serious incidents and accidents should be properly investigated.
Only a designated company spokesperson should talk to the media so that there’s one version of the events. Your crew should not talk to the media.
Conclusion – good treatment is essential and time is of the essence
Having people trained in first-aid with access to a fully equipped first-aid kit will enable first-line medical treatment to be applied promptly until the emergency first responders arrive. Getting the emergency services to the scene of the accident as quickly as possible is essential. Knowing what to do in the event of an accident will save time and it could save a life.
Of course, even minor injuries should be treated properly because untreated injuries can become infected, and some injuries may even be more serious than first thought. All accidents and injuries should be recorded and reported.
Have you had a serious accident on your construction project?
Does everyone on your project know what to do if there’s an accident?