Introduction to Construction Safety for Building Occupants

Prepared by RDH Building Science Inc.

Occupant Safety

Building occupants are often thrust into remediation projects without a full appreciation of what they are about to experience. Living in a construction site presents many challenges and occupant safety is particularly important. In order to promote occupant safety, it is imperative that owners and tenants be aware of sensible safety practices. The following guide should be observed at all times – not just during work hours.

  • Scaffolding
    A scaffolding system is essential for access to the building exterior. Many workplace accidents are scaffolding related.
    • At no time are building occupants to climb the scaffolding. Sections may be in a stage of dismantling and not be safe.
    • Do not remove or adjust any component of the scaffolding. Scaffolding is quite often an engineered system and cannot be altered without approval of the design engineer.
    • Do not allow children to play on or near the scaffolding.
  • Ladders
    Ladders are a source of potential danger.
    • Do not climb any ladder used on the site for construction purposes. It may not be secured from falling.
    • Do not remove ladders or alter them in any way. A worker may not be aware that the ladder has been altered or left unsecured. It is a requirement of the WCB regulations to restrain a ladder from falling.
  • Debris (loose, flying, and falling)
    Debris will be removed from the construction site on a continuous basis, but occasionally it will accumulate. It is always a hazard.
    • Watch for falling and flying debris. As materials are removed from the building they are sometimes difficult to contain.
    • Watch for wood or boards with protruding nails. If rusty nails break the skin, they can cause severe infection.
    • Loose debris and materials can be a slipping and tripping hazard. Do not walk on or through accumulated construction debris.
  • Caution Tape and Signage
    These are widely used on construction sites to warn people of potential dangers. Respect all caution tape and signage.
  • Materials Storage Area
    This is where construction materials used to repair the buildings are stored. Some may be hazardous materials; others may be stacked items.
    • Do not allow children to play in material storage areas. Hazardous or poisonous materials may be in the storage area.
    • Stacked materials such as lumber can sometimes fall, especially when prompted to do so by being knocked or heavily jarred. Maintain a safe distance.
    • Respect designated storage areas.
  • Tools and Equipment
    Many tools and equipment will be used to repair the building. These tools and equipment can maim or injure if used by unqualified personnel.
    • Do not use or borrow tools and/or equipment.
    • If a tool or piece of equipment is inadvertently left unlocked after workers have left the construction site, turn it in to the building manager.
  • Waste Containers
    Waste containers are necessary for removal of debris from the construction site. They will be present for the duration of the project.
    • Do not climb into the waste container. There are nails, sharp wire, hazardous materials and many other dangers present.
    • Do not park in the immediate vicinity of the waste container. Materials and debris are routinely thrown into the container, sometimes missing. Vehicles parked too close could get damaged.
  • PrivacY
    Privacy is a significant concern while construction proceeds on residential buildings. There are a few simple ways to maintain privacy.
    • Keep drapes or blinds closed while work proceeds in your area of the building.
    • There will be times when construction crews may require access into suites to do repairs on drywall and for touch-up painting. These times will be arranged with occupants in advance.
  • Security
    The use of scaffolding will make it easier for people to access all parts of the building exterior. During the construction period homeowners should be aware of an increased risk of criminal activity.
    • Keep doors and windows locked at all times.
    • If suspicious activities are observed contact the construction representative for confirmation.
    • Contact the police if circumstances warrant it.
  • Areas of Work
    During the course of construction all decks and balconies will be likely be dismantled and restored. Do not explore these areas while they are under construction. Supporting members may have been removed and/or guardrails may be unfastened and not secure.
  • Insurance
    Building owners should review the insurance provided by the contractors (under the terms of the contract) and consult with their insurance agent with respect to obtaining additional forms of insurance during the course of construction.
  • Special Needs
    Identify any tenants with special needs that may be relevant to the contractor, i.e.: wheel chair access.
  • Emergency Accident Procedure
    If a serious accident is witness during construction, follow the procedure outlined below. A serious accident would be defined as one in which the injured person (worker or tenant) is unable to help themselves.
    • Call 911 and state the address.
    • 911 will require a brief description of the accident. Tell them what is known.
    • Try to contact the site first aid attendant and project superintendent.
    • If able, go to the area where emergency crews will arrive and direct them to the accident scene or have another person do this.
    • Before going to the accident scene to help the injured person assess the area to ensure it is safe.

It is very important that children or adults with impaired judgment be closely supervised once construction work commences.

Published by

Your PP2 Residential Committee

PP2 President until June 2, 2022.

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