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Date PostedSeptember 3, 2012

Working Safely on Construction sites in the Dark


(Photo: Sailom / FreeDigitalPhotos.net)

Most construction workers are accustomed to working on a busy construction site and often working overtime to meet strict deadlines. This sometimes involves shift work and workers often have to work at night. Working at night or in the dark presents a potential hazard to construction workers and is quite different from working in daylight. Some construction sites are naturally dark, even during the day and so certain safety guidelines should be followed in order to maintain safety.

Working on a construction site at night means most often workers are fatigued and the lack of light creates blind spots where workers cannot see.These are the two greatest risks presented.

Overcoming fatigue is often difficult when workers move from a day shift to a night shift. The body’s internal clock is disrupted and this causes you to become fatigued at work, thereby jeopardising your ability to safety work. Sleeping during the day when not on shift is vital to remaining alert at night. Workers should try sleeping in a silent, dark room with no sunlight during the day. Also sleep the same amount of hours as you would at night.

Working in the absence of light, means workers chances of having accidents are increased. This can be overcome by providing appropriate lighting on site and having signage that is brightly lit and visible wherever hazards are present to warn workers.

Employers can also reduce incidents by implementing traffic control and having an awareness of what is located at the site, through training and signage.

The safety plan of the site should include an analysis of potential hazards on site arising from working in the dark. Planning ahead means taking into consideration all the possible dangers that could arise that could harm workers including taking note of blind spots, tripping or falling hazards and dangerous equipment.

Ensure warning signs are well maintained, illuminated and visible at all times. They should also be appropriately positioned to warn of hazards.

Workers operating heavy machinery and equipment may not be able to see behind the vehicle in the dark, these blind spots present a hazard. Employers should try to ensure the equipment on site comes with rear vision video systems or object detection systems that alert the operator to obstacles or people when reversing.

Ensure that the site has all the necessary lighting to work safely at night, including equipment mounted lights, hard hat lights, lights mounted on poles or cranes and spot lights on particular work areas. Fluorescent vests should be worn by workers to make them visible to other workers and machine operators.

Keep workers and equipment separated and ensure heavy machinery remains in specially demarcated zones.  Identify the safest routes for workers to drive equipment through and put up signs to indicate high traffic areas. As a worker, be alert and on the lookout for moving vehicles and equipment. Each night a worker should be assigned as a spotter for heavy machinery drivers.

Also workers should be involved in developing the safety protocols for their site. Management and supervisors should consult staff about the dangers they encounter and together establish ways of dealing with them. Review the sites safety plan on a regular basis.

All workers should have received training when beginning work on the site, this means that workers should have been taught how to work safety and effectively in the dark if the job requires. Although working in the dark presents a visibility hazard, by working together, being informed and vigilant and adhering to safety guidelines, workers need not fall victim to accidents that so frequently occur in the dark.

 

Steven Asnicar is regarded as a leader across many fields of industry. In particular, his specialisation across the health, infrastructure, construction, resource and utility sectors has seen him successfully change the dynamics of these industries through the introduction of new strategic, marketing, training and technical frameworks. Steven works closely with industry peak bodies such as Safework Australia, Australian Logistics Council, National Advisory for Tertiary Education, Skills and Employment (NATESE) and the Council of Australian Governments in the development of new delivery standards and industry specific programs.

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