Construction is huge business in Canada. In fact, the Toronto Region Board of Trade estimates we’ll see a jump of about 147,000 construction-related jobs created in the GTA alone by 2031. With so many new structures going up across the country, it’s more important than ever to take a good look at the unique (and plentiful!) hazards the construction industry faces. Let’s take a look at some of the most common we come across: falls, high noise levels, and hazardous materials.

Falls & Dropped Objects

Construction equipment is parked at the bottom of a pit on the site of a new condominium complex off Redpath Avenue in Toronto, Ontario, Canada.
Falls are the number one cause of critical injuries and deaths of employees at construction sites in Ontario. Workers can be at increased risk of falling due to:

  • Missing protective devices, like guardrails
  • Unsuitable or poorly maintained guardrails and covers
  • Unguarded openings in floors, work surfaces or walls of buildings or other structures, including skylights in existing roof structures
  • Lack of appropriate personal protective equipment (e.g. equipment unavailable, unused or misused)
  • Tools are not tethered to the body, causing potential dropped object injuries
  • Equipment that is misused or in poor condition
  • Poor work practices, like unclear job procedures, lack of training or workers rushing to meet deadlines)
  • Poor lighting, slippery surfaces, inadequate ‘housekeeping’ and other deficient working conditions

It’s essential to find way to control fall hazards on jobsites, and ciritcal that the tools you’re using to do so are maintained and in proper working order at all times. Finding out your SRL doesn’t work when you’re forty stories in the air isn’t exactly ideal. But don’t worry – we can help with that.

High Noise Levels

Noise-related hearing loss is one of the most common occupational health issues, and the construction industry is no exception from this, thanks to the many, many noisy tasks that are part and parcel in construction. Some of the main sources of noise in construction include:

  • Impacting tools, like concrete breakers
  • Using explosives, like blasting or cartridge tools
  • Pneumatically powered equipment and internal combustion engines

Wearing the correct PPE to protect against excessive noise in the workplace is key, but preventing noise-induced hearing-loss it goes much further than that.

In 2016, Ontario’s occupational exposure limits for noise were extended to apply to construction projects. Employers in the industry are required to take every reasonable precaution for the protection of a worker and are encouraged to voluntarily develop a hearing conservation program that includes pre-employment and periodic audiometric testing to detect hearing changes before they occur.

And if you haven’t developed a hearing conservation program yet, what exactly are you waiting for? Let us help you build a custom solution that caters to the individual needs of all your employees based on the specific hazards they face.

Hazardous Materials

A warning sign posted to a fence warns anyone entering the construction site about the possibility of coming into contact with hazardous materials like asbestos.With all the new construction happening in Canada, workers have seen a lot of innovation and tech advances in recent years. They’re also using newer tools, equipment, processes, and materials, finding more and more efficient ways to get the job done. But with all these in advancements in the construction industry, materials that were installed years – even decades – ago, may need to be removed; think asbestos, lead, and mercury. This can expose workers to hazards from the past they may not be aware of, or even introduce new hazards that no one has ever had to deal with before.

Even if you don’t discover long-forgotten hazardous building materials during construction, you may find some other unhealthy substances, including:

  • Microbial contamination caused by water damage, condensation, or bids, bats, and rodents
  • Flammable or explosive materials used during demolition
  • Naturally occurring radon and/or mould

Many hazardous materials are reasonably safe until they’re disturbed by fire, water damage, or renovation and construction. It’s key to ensure construction workers are prepared to find something potentially dangerous prior to starting a demolition or renovation. Not sure if you’ll find asbestos insulation? Make sure you’ve got adequate respiratory protection on before you start working. Will you be grinding or sanding? Then you’ll be producing crystalline silica, which also calls for proper respiratory protection.

Handling hazardous materials is a serious issue that affects not only workers and general contractors on site, but any residents in the surrounding areas that could be impacted by the release or improper disposal of these substances. And if you aren’t absolutely certain you or your workers know how to handle any hazmat they might come across, don’t start the job.

Any worker who could potentially encounter hazardous materials needs to be fully trained and protected. Check out some of our online courses that deal specifically with hazardous materials.

If you aren’t sure about every single hazard that exists on your construction site, you should think about getting in touch with us. We offer safety consulting services across the country, and we’ll help identify all the potential risks on your construction site.

Contact us to get started.

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Eric Huard

Market Segment Manager, Personal Safety

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