Sun | Jul 25, 2021

Health and safety during construction

Published:Saturday | May 31, 2014 | 12:00 AM
Workmen carrying out construction on a section of the Portmore leg of Highway 2000.-File

A lot of us build our homes from the ground up and many make modifications to existing structures. We do this to fulfil the dream of having a comfortable dwelling of our own. The construction process can have significant health and safety implications for ourselves and loved ones, so it is important to take some precautions.

Some persons may start living in houses before the construction process has been completed in order to cut living expenses. Typically, essential sections are prepared for occupation while the construction process continues. This arrangement will, of course, negatively impact on each other (the construction process and the occupants). Steps should be taken to reduce this negative impact.

When construction is going on, there may be unsecured construction tools, equipment and supplies around, and these may serve as a health hazard. This is especially important if there are young children or elderly relatives in the household.


Loose blocks, hammers and shovels, may fall and injure unsuspecting persons. Loose nails may impale those walking around the construction area. Children may want to climb on to construction equipment not suitable for such activity, and they may fall, injuring themselves. Incomplete electrical wiring may pose an electrocution and tripping hazard.

Construction often requires digging holes that persons can fall into. These holes may even collect water, which adds another dangerous dimension to the situation for unsuspecting persons.

Another danger posed by the construction process is exposure to chemicals, including paints and solvents. Again, this may be of greater importance if young children are around. Some persons are even very sensitive to cement dust and can develop eczema, respiratory problems, and allergies.

There are many ways to reduce the risks posed by the construction process. It is very important to be aware of the potential dangers and the need to protect the most vulnerable in the household, i.e., the very young and the elderly.

The construction manager should be someone experienced in keeping the environment safe for all involved, and is close to the construction area. The areas should be made as secure as possible. If areas could be sealed, that would be ideal.

It would probably be best to conduct the construction activity when members of the household are not present. Equipment, chemicals, supplies, waste generated, and tools should be locked away when not in use. Elevated areas and open holes should also be secured.