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Construction Sites: Types, safety & tips

In engineering, construction is a method that involves assembling infrastructure using a detailed plan and different materials. Other than materials, design and use case influence the type of construction site that a project adopts. So, what happens on a construction site? This article will discuss the different kinds of construction sites and activities that take place in these sites.

What is a Construction Site?

A construction site refers to land where all physical construction activities related to a proposed structure take place. Many people typically use the term building site is to refer to a construction site. However, the term building site refers to a site where only housing projects occur, whereas a construction site is an umbrella term for all kinds of construction. 

The landscape properties such as soil and vegetation are modified to provide a suitable environment for professionals to continue their fieldwork. A piece of land turns to a construction site when land is handed over to a contractor to commence construction works.

A construction site does not imply radical changes in a built-in environment.  Even small projects with minimal changes qualify as construction sites. Construction sites need to comply with the relevant building regulations as these regulations govern the extent of a construction site.

Types of construction sites

There are different ways to classify construction sites. The most common classification is either a building site or an industrial site. Construction sites can also be classified by the type of owner, building type, and fire safety. This article will discuss some types of construction sites and where they are applicable.

Residential

These are construction sites for apartments, condos, and housing projects. Different countries and states have various rules governing residential construction sites. Most residential constructions take place in cities, bringing about more stringent laws protecting other residents and pedestrians.

A residential facility with multiple units is classified as a commercial project. Other facilities such as parking lots and swimming pools are also classified as part of the residential project if their location is within the confines of the construction site. Multiple contractors can also work on a project provided all their services are within the confines of the delimited construction site.

Institutional / commercial

Commercial construction projects refer to any projects constructed for commercial purposes. They include hospitals, restaurants, office buildings, skyscrapers, hospitals, universities, and such. On the other hand, institutional projects refer to educational facilities, hospitals, prisons, and nursing homes.

Another segment of a commercial site is the industrial construction site. This is a small segment of projects in the construction industry; they include refineries, power plants, manufacturing plants, and solar wind farms. The terms industrial construction and commercial construction are used interchangeably. These projects operate in the same manner when it comes to contractual and payment terms. The only difference is in the building occupancy.

Power generation

The most common energy sources for most countries are hydroelectric power, solar energy, and wind energy. Other forms of energy are coal, oil, and gas. The construction of infrastructure hydroelectric and solar power generating plants differs from that of coal and gas projects. The building of power generation plants involves constructing, installing, and maintaining conductors and shields for power generation.

Waste

Waste management plants are found adjacent to cities due to the dense population. These sites are connected by sewerage systems that link the sites to the waste management systems. In the waste management construction sites, the activities include classification, recycling, and destroying hazardous residues. Sometimes water purification plants are close to waste management plants as the water is purified and reused for secondary purposes like irrigation.

Heavy construction/transport

Heavy construction projects are big projects that fall neither under building or highway projects. Examples of such projects include dams, sewer lines, flood control projects, dredging, and water treatment plants.

Special Industrial Construction sites

Industrial construction sites involve large-scale projects with a high degree of complexity. Examples of such specialized industrial sites are steel mills, chemical processing plants, oil refineries, and nuclear plants.

Gas & oil

Gas and oil sites are heavily secure due to their volatile nature. There's usually a considerable distance between entry to the construction site and where the actual works occur. This flammable and explosive nature is a threat thus needs to be handled carefully.  As gas and oil are some of the most significant energy sources, they need to be away from human settlements because if a person interferes with the supply, they will affect the energy supply to major cities.

things to know on a construction site

5 Things to Know on a Construction Site

Construction sites are dangerous places of work. Many accidents occur in construction sites, and employers need to take necessary precautions to curb the risks in construction sites. There are several plans employers can put in place to keep projects on track. Below are some of the things you need to be aware of on a construction site.

Be aware of health and safety rules 

Every construction site is governed by health and safety rules documented in the Workplace Safety and Health guidelines. However, these guidelines are only practical if all the employees are aware of them and adopt them. Therefore, one should be mindful of these rules, and most employers spend time educating employees about their responsibilities and how they should carry them out. The management also ought to listen to employee concerns and effect appropriate protocols for safeguarding the workplace.

The scenarios in construction sites are constantly shifting, and it is necessary to evaluate safety plans and implement new ones.

Have your paperwork in place

For smooth operation of the programs on-site, you need to have proper documentation of the work done on-site. There are legal hoops in permissions and licensing that one needs to jump in before engaging in a construction project. Besides licensing, the contractor and project manager should appropriately document all financing and labor documentation to assess whether a project's progress is on track.

Licensing in a project takes time. You should therefore send your applications early to avoid hiccups in your project. The subcontractors and supervisors tasked with complex tasks such as licensing should have the necessary certifications.

Documentation on environmental considerations should be a top priority too. In 2019, the Singapore government heavily fined two construction firms for releasing a lot of silt into waterways leading to water pollution.

Arrange equipment and staff

Construction workers equipped with improper gear are likely to make terrible errors on site. The project foreman should ensure workers arrange the equipment to suit the task at hand. The construction firms also have a responsibility to ensure the equipment is maintained correctly. The equipment that is not necessary for the project at that particular point in time should be cleared from the site to avoid obstructions.

Remember the amenities 

There are necessary amenities that make the environment easier for the staff. Good construction equipment ensures some level of safety within the construction site. The construction site should also make water available, toilets, washing areas, changing rooms, and erect temporary structures for shade to avoid dehydration and other illnesses related to exposure. Many contractors often overlook these amenities, but they minimize the chances of unwarranted incidents in the construction sites.

A construction site should also have storage areas for keeping the place organized and tidy,

If you don't know the answer, ask!

If you are unsure what you need to do, do not venture into guesswork. If you think something is not going to plan, stop, countercheck, and ask. It might be challenging to put things right after they go wrong. Always ask your supervisor if you feel things are going wrong.

construction site safety

How to ensure construction site safety

Starting a construction project is exciting and equally stressful. One always has a lot to learn to ensure the success of a project. Nothing can replace real-life experience, but we will share below some essential tips to make your project a success.

Adequate training

It is a legal requirement that no worker commence work on a construction site without site-specific training. There are no similar construction sites, and therefore the training is always unique to a particular construction site. The training is always site-specific. It points out high-risk areas in the site, emergency protocols, and the operation of site-specific equipment. Site-specific orientation also accompanies the training. This orientation's objective is to ascertain that everyone has a common purpose on site. Other goals of the orientation include: -

  • Assessing site safety and reporting any new hazards noted
  • How to work safely amidst the identified hazards
  • Understanding the contractor safety requirements on site
  • Understanding safety procedures on equipment theft

PPE 

According to the OSHA Act, anyone entering a construction site should be equipped with the necessary PPE (Personal Protective Equipment). PPEs are the last line of defense when someone encounters hazardous situations on site. High visibility vests make you easily visible, helmets protect your head, and safety boots give you grip and reduce your chances of slipping. Other PPE equipment includes gloves that prevent workers from cuts and safety glasses that prevent workers from debris in the atmosphere. Specialized construction might need one to wear protective gear such as hearing protection and face shields. PPE cannot protect you if you do not wear it, and you should therefore always wear it on site.

Know the construction work's code of practice

Every construction site has a code of practice approved under law. For safety purposes, everyone on site should be acquainted with the code of practice. It offers guidance to identify and manage risks on site. In some locations, you might come across workers whose first language is not English. These are referred to as Culturally and Linguistically Diverse (CALD) workers, and they might need special training on the construction site's code of practice.

Machinery maintenance

The more frequently machinery is inspected and maintained, the less likely it is to fail. Unexpected component failures can lead to dangerous working conditions that present environmental hazards. Preventive maintenance also curbs the expensive downtime brought about by the extra time needed for repairs. Machines in proper working conditions increase operator confidence, extend service longevity, and reduce costly litigation times.

Tidiness

In construction sites, workers face many dangers, such as working with power tools and at considerable heights. Having a cluttered work environment only works to increase the risks in construction further. For instance, a fall next to shattered glass or a pile of steel bars would be more detrimental than a fall next to a clean site. It is also easy for people to move around, but a site hampered with tools makes navigation risky.

Follow safety signs

Due to the numerous potential dangers in construction sites, they should be appropriately marked for workers with signs proper signages. This warns anyone nearby to take the necessary precautions. Safety signs are a cost-effective way of reducing accidents if followed well. Signages with notices around the site remind the staff of their professional responsibilities. They give vital information such as emergency kits, first aid kits, and fire extinguishers. In the case of an emergency, everyone can act to the best of their ability.

construction site equipment

Common construction site equipment

Construction projects use a lot of specialized equipment. The equipment used depends on the type and scope of work in the project. Without equipment, building structures would be a tedious and risky endeavor. Civil engineers also use specialized equipment for mapping out geographical locations and performing detailed design. Below are some of the heavy machinery used in a construction site.

  • Bulldozer
  • Backhoe
  • Grader
  • Tower crane
  • Trenchers
  • Dragline Excavators
  • Compactors
  • Dump trucks
  • Pile boring machine
  • Pile driving machine
  •  Telehandlers
  • Pavers
  • Loaders
  • Wheel tractor scraper

Proper equipment for a project makes construction more straightforward and faster.

FAQ

Due to the complex nature of construction sites, there are common questions that pop up. Below are some of the answers to frequently asked questions in construction.

What is construction site planning?

Construction site planning is the specific process whereby a construction manager lays down the plan for building a project from start to finish. It involves the design, scheduling, and actual construction.

Summary

Construction sites are exciting and vibrant. Many activities take place, but it is essential to be wary of the surroundings on site. Being of the work taking place around you reduces the risk of potential accidents. Communication is also necessary to notify managers and team leaders of the potential risks.