Planning for Incidents and Emergencies at Construction Sites

caution sign with red line around workerContractors, property owners, and onsite managers should have plans in place for incidents and emergencies that arise on jobsites. To ensure that emergencies are handled as effectively as possible, all staff and crew should be briefed on response protocols. To keep construction sites operating smoothly and safely on a consistent basis, emergency response procedures must continually undergo review and revisions. While OSHA has guidelines for workplace health and safety standards, here are some tips for dealing with emergencies at construction sites.

Focus on responses related to:

  • Hazard identification/assessment: This includes transportation; materials; handling; environmental concerns; resources such as material safety data sheets to determine hazards from jobsite materials; and proximity to traffic and public areas. Once a hazard has been identified, figure out what can go wrong and what are the consequences.
  • Emergency resources: Identify which resources are best for specific emergencies and have a backup plan in place if they are unavailable. The police, the fire department, and the CDC are organizations to call for specific situations – ensure workers know who to call for various emergencies. Some onsite resources to keep include fire extinguishers, spills containment equipment, and first aid kits. Even construction equipment around the site, such as a propane heater from, can be a potential resource. Workers with medical experience should also be called upon as a resource.
  • Communication systems: Relaying accurate information quickly can make the difference between a minor emergency and a life-threatening situation. Systems include cellular phones, two-way radios, or a loud speaker.
  • Organizing the plan: The person in charge of worksite safety and formulating these plans is usually the person in charge during an emergency response situation. He or she must ensure that all workers know their roles and responsibilities in an emergency, and if there is proper equipment onsite to handle various scenarios.
  • Emergency response procedure: Basic actions to take include the following in this sequence: stay calm, assess the situation, take command, provide protection, aid and manage, maintain contacts, guide emergency services.
  • Post-emergency procedure: The recovery process is an important step in any emergency. Some people on the site may require help to recover from stress or anxiety. Having the head of the project address the situation honestly helps workers to feel confident about getting back to work.

Please note that while the above tips are broad in scope, each jobsite manager is responsible for planning and executing emergency response procedures that are best suited for their individual situation.