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Construction Safety Manual Guidance

There are specific safety guidelines for small business contractors. Learn about construction manual guidelines, here.

According to the Fire Prevention Division, approximately 70,000 to 80,000 fires occur in businesses each year. Fires are among the hazards businesses can prevent using the construction safety manual. Other risks include falls, chemical hazards, repetitive use injury, and electrical hazards.  

These figures serve to show how important it is to have a safety manual, which makes it possible to have fewer hazards cases. The construction safety manual is a sound and flexible framework. It provides for safety and health issues in construction sites.

The focus is on employers, workers’ representatives, and workers. The manual is useful in any construction job however small.

However, its usefulness is more profound to small construction companies. The recommended practices emphasize a proactive approach to occupational safety and health. Previous plans were often reactive.

This means that measures were only put in place after an injury or sickness occurred. Establishing potential problems and fixing them before they happen is the most ideal. It serves to promote a positive working environment.

Besides, it also reduces the costs of illnesses and injuries. Let’s now look at some specific items in the construction safety manual.

Duties and Responsibilities

A construction safety manual should have a clear statement of policy by the owner. It should show support for meeting the safety objectives. It also must define the involvement of each stakeholder in the management system.

Clients or Owners

The clients or project owners should ensure the completion of contracts on time. Besides, the projects should remain within the budget and the safety guidelines. They must put in place health and safety considerations at the design stage.


Contractors should plan traffic routes, emergency exit routes, loading bays, and danger areas. They should provide safe work equipment, training, inspection, and maintenance of the same. Other duties are to

  • Provide safe slopes for excavators
  • Provide personal protective gear
  • Use well-trained first-aid personnel
  • Conduct safety inspections
  • Design and anchor for-lifts to prevent overturns and roll-overs

Contractors must also not forget to provide warning notices and safety signs. Warning signs are not enough without efforts to keep the place free from hazards.


Employees have the responsibility to follow all safety rules as stipulated. They also much check to see that all safety measures installed are working in the right way. There's also an expectation that employees should

  • Avoid foul play that can result in a hazard
  • Stop working if unwell or unfit for the job
  • Replace damaged hand tools as soon as possible

Employees should collaborate with contractors and supervisors. It's their responsibility to report any unsafe work practice or accident.

Senior Site Management

The senior site management must assess risks and determine the necessary measures. They also must inform workers of the outcome of the assessment and essential steps. Upon evaluation, they must combat the hazards at their source.

This is to avoid the hazards from reaching the workers. For the unavoidable risks, it's only appropriate to provide the much-required training.

Architects, Designers, and Structural Engineers

This team should discuss the safety and health terms with the clients. They also must plan in layout and design drawings. The planning incorporates repairs, future maintenance, and the current approach to the project.

After planning, it’s crucial to provide information about the risk of the design. They also must carry out checks and sort out problems from various contractors.

Safety Professionals and Supervisors

These stakeholders have the mandate to identify all looming hazards in the workplace. They then should give advice and suggestions for the problems they identify. Proposals should be in the form of the different kinds of help available.

The solution should take into account electrical, chemical, and mechanical risks. Safety professionals should also investigate measures and recommend remedial measures. Besides, they also must provide safety training for employees.

Hazard Identification and Assessment

Another core component of the construction safety manual is hazard identification and assessment. It's important to note that unanticipated hazards can be as a result of changes in the sequence of events. Changes in project timelines and the fast pace of some projects may also lead to risks.

Hazard identification comes as a crucial part of any health and safety program. Lack of hazard identification is one of the primary causes of construction hazards. These include accidents, illnesses, and injuries.

The hazard identification and assessment process should be proactive and ongoing. In identifying and assessing hazards, employers should

  • Collect and review information about the hazards present and potential
  • Undertake regular inspections of the job site
  • Investigate illnesses, injuries, accidents, and near misses in identifying risks
  • Identify trends in illnesses, injuries, and hazards
  • Establish hazards associated with non-routine and emergencies
  • Identify the likelihood and severity of the incidents for each hazard identified

It's possible to fix some of the hazards as soon as the stakeholders identify them. Dealing with a hazard on the spot is one way to emphasize the importance of health and safety.

Education and Training

A construction safety manual serves no purpose without training and education. These two are the tools for informing managers and workers about the hazards. Creating awareness helps them to be more productive and to observe safety in work.

Education and training provide a greater understanding of the health and safety program. It empowers workers to contribute to the development and implementation of the program. The tools provide managers, workers, supervisors, and employers with

  • The necessary skills and knowledge to perform their duties
  • Awareness and understanding to identify, assess, control, and report hazards
  • Specialized training for work that involves unique hazards

Besides, training is necessary depending on the roles assigned to each stakeholder. For example, supervisors and managers may need training for their leadership roles. Workers given specific tasks may need the training to ensure they take part in those roles.

Communication and Coordination

A construction site usually has several types of workers. There are those employed by the contractor and those from other sources. All parties must consider how they impact on the safety of their co-workers.

For example, electrical workers should check how they impact the concrete section. Effective communication and coordination need awareness of potential hazards. These are hazards that can arise from the work that employees of the contractors do.

They also must be aware of the measures necessary to control exposure to the hazards.

Effective Communication

The various contractors on the job site must also have a communication channel. In case there are safety concerns, they should coordinate to address them. Before they come on site, contractors, staffing agencies, subcontractors, and workers should know

  • The previous work done on the site and hazards faced
  • The necessary procedures or measures to avoid exposure to the risks
  • The communication channel to the general contractor in case of injury or accident

For effective communication, the general contractor must communicate with other contractors or subcontractors. The aim is to establish who among them will implement, maintain, and control the various parts of the construction safety manual. It’s essential that these determinants are well captured in the contract documents.

The section that defines the relationships between the stakeholders should consider this.

Effective Coordination

The general contractor must also establish effective coordination. To accomplish this, they must

  • Include any safety-related specifications and pre-qualification
  • Ensure those working on the project meet the specifications
  • Identify safety issues that may arise on-site
  • Ensure work is planned and well scheduled to reduce safety impacts
  • Provide adequate training for joint-employed workers
  • Harmonize safety and health policies to resolve essential differences
  • Work together with other stakeholders to deal with unexpected staffing needs

In planning all these, general subcontractors must work with managers with decision-making authority. They need to be available to deal with day-to-day coordination issues.

Construction Safety Manual - Final Thoughts

It’s essential for small businesses to have a construction safety manual. It serves as the blueprint that guides the stakeholders on health and safety measures. Construction sites are danger zones, and it's only crucial that protective measures are in place.

A construction safety manual should cover the roles and responsibilities of the stakeholders. Every stakeholder has a role to play in observation of safety. Coordination of the activities is vital in streamlining rescue activities in case of injuries.

There's also need to train the stakeholders on the provisions on the manual. Training provides a guarantee that every person knows the requirements of the manual. It’s the avenue through which they understand what to do in case of a safety emergency.

Another crucial component of the manual is communication and coordination. Training isn’t enough if the stakeholders can’t implement what they learn. This is where communication and coordination come in.

General contractors have the responsibility to ensure the stakeholders do as they learn. Yet, the implementation should not be haphazard as it may expose them to risk at the job site. Effective coordination begins with effective communication.

There are many components to the construction safety manual for small businesses. All the stakeholders in a construction project must familiarize with more in-depth details.


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