The construction sector is a major component of Kenya’s economy. According to statistics, the Kenyan construction industry contributed 5.6% to GDP in 2019 and employed 222,000 people. With economic growth averaging over 5% per annum over the past ten years and oil production underway, the Kenyan government was on the cusp of rolling out an expansive infrastructure development program comprising 80 public-private partnership projects. Since the outbreak of coronavirus, the government’s infrastructure development plan hangs in the balance. Despite its importance in economic growth, construction site health and safety is very poor.
There is a lack of health and safety at construction sites that deals with both the physical and psychological well-being of workers on construction sites and other persons whose health is likely to be adversely affected by construction activities. Health and safety is, therefore an economic as well as humanitarian concern that requires proper management control. It should be a primary concern to employers, employees, governments, and project participants.
Construction workers are two to three times more likely to die on the job than workers in other industries while the risk of serious injury is almost three times higher.
At Eco Concrete workplace safety is one of our major concerns. We have the moral obligation to help our clients to ensure safe workplaces rather than unsafe sites that can lead to serious legal and financial consequences for them.
Safety in the Beam and Block flooring system defined.
As a Beam and Block flooring company, we deal with a large variety of building sites, from self-building owners to large multinational construction sites. Sadly, on too many sites we witness that there are no measures at all. Our mission is to help our clients understand the importance of health and safety on sites and to create awareness of safe practices that ensure everyone goes home safe and sound at the end of the day. We are witnesses to the positive impact that working in safer environments has.
Safer working places results in better employee retention, fewer occupational health cost, less retraining time, and less employee downtime. No one wants to undergo litigation as the result of an accident. This is costly and may take several years in the court system to resolve. Additionally, should there be an accident on site, Government agencies now have the power to shut down the site pending investigations. Not an ideal situation.
Minimum safety equipment
When working with the beam and block flooring system, risks are ever-present. We as a company strive to improve the sites we work on. The minimum safety equipment we request that every site should have:
- Helmet: Beam and block installations typically mean that workers are working at different heights. Helmets are vital to prevent injuries from small debris or loose material that may fall from height. They will also provide protection from larger objects should they fall.
- Gloves: These are an absolute necessity on an installation. The workers are handling rough blocks and beams that often have exposed aggregates. Repeated handling of these materials can cause irritation to the skin, roughen it and cause small cuts or lacerations on workers’ hands. This can lead to them loosening their grip on objects as well as being particularly painful. Rendering them ineffective.
- Safety boots: Again a necessity for all building sites. Every building site has hazards on the floor, from nails to loose debris, to water hazards, etc. in addition to this is workers are physically carrying loads around the site. Any slip or mistake can lead to dropping a significant weight on their foot.
Additional recommended safety and practices
- Working at heights. Do not allow workers to stand untethered on main beams or load-bearing walls. It is safer to build a small working platform from which they can manhandle the Beam and Block into place.
- Clear working areas. Ensure that the working areas are free from trip hazards and that no other workers are working below the installation site.
- Passing of blocks. Blocks should be passed from hand to hand. Workers should not be allowed to throw blocks at each other.
- Alcohol and other Substances. It is imperative that no person should be allowed on a building site under the influence of alcohol or drugs. This also includes legal drugs. Many drugs specifically prohibit the operation or use of machinery whilst under medication. They not only endanger themselves but those they are with.
Advantages of wearing PPEs
- The PPE acts as the last barrier against hazards.
- Helmets are for protecting you against falling objects that would otherwise injure you.
- Safety gloves prevent immediate laceration or other hand-related injuries
- Safety boots with protective soles, thick layer, and steel toe protection protect against lacerations, slippage, and falls.
Disadvantages of wearing PPEs
- PPE costs money.
- Wearing PPE may cause discomfort to the user.
- Extra supervision is needed to see that workers wear the PPEs.
At EcoConcrete Kenya, we have a unique understanding of the dangers and risks involved in the Beam and Block floor installation. We understand that ensuring the safety and well-being of workers in the workplace is very crucial. With the backing of our dedicated team, we can work together into making your construction site safe. If you have a question or suggestion about creating a safe construction site, we would love to hear from you.