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Plan Ahead: 4 Construction Site Disaster Preparation Tips

Best Practices

With proper planning and workforce training, you can mitigate the impact that a natural disaster may have on your operations. Are you prepared?

Hard Hat and Work Gloves Resting on Bricks with Construction Site in Background

The United States is vulnerable to disasters. Many states are exposed to multiple hazards, including wildfires, earthquakes, hurricanes, tornadoes, and landslides. In 2018 alone, 56 severe thunderstorms, 20 flash floods, 5 cyclones, and 16 wildfires were classified as catastrophes, each causing property damage amounting to more than $25 million.

Disasters can take many forms, and construction sites need to be well-prepared to face them. After all, there are a lot of things that can go wrong on a construction site. Without sufficient disaster preparedness, a natural or man-made disaster can not only affect your business but also endanger your construction employees. Here are some disaster preparedness tips that you need to do to minimize damage to your construction site.

Construction Site

1. Create a list of disastrous scenarios.

When creating an emergency response plan, it is important to create a list of worst-case scenarios that you can use in designing your strategies. This involves analyzing the geographic location of your construction site and determining some of the hazards that can happen.

For instance, examine if your construction site is near a fault line or a flood-prone area, and then prepare accordingly. You should also take note of internal hazards like chemicals and other flammable materials. Compile each of these potential scenarios and determine which of them your construction site is most vulnerable to. You should also note the impact of each scenario on your site and to your company as a whole in case such a disaster was to occur.

Construction Site with Cement Truck and Construction Workers

2. Develop a disaster preparedness plan.

For each of the scenarios on your list develop an emergency response plan that addresses how you and your workers will act in the event of such a disaster.

In this plan, you need to determine the areas on the construction site that need to be reinforced. These may include the locations of generators, cranes, and other heavy equipment that may be toppled by disasters like hurricanes and earthquakes. The plan should also assign responsibilities to key individuals in the event of a disaster. This will make the flow of communication and decision-making smooth during the chaos brought about by the catastrophic event.

Crane Lifting Load

3. Establish a command post and first-aid station.

The flow of communication and decision-making is crucial in the event of a disaster. For this reason, it is important to establish a central command site that workers can refer to for guidance. The command post should be located in a place that is least likely to be affected by a disaster.

Some of the things that your command post should have are a set of radios to ensure communication continues even without electricity, site layouts and blueprints to help first responders, a list of employees and their contact information, and backup power. The command post should also act as a first-aid station in case of injuries. First-aid kits, bandages, and other medical tools should be kept ready in case disaster strikes.

Construction Site with Crane in Background

4. Train your site employees in disaster preparedness.

Aside from reinforcing your site, you also need to prepare your workforce with training on how to deal with emergencies. This includes briefing crew members about evacuation procedures and the protocols they should follow when a disaster occurs. You can also conduct safety training such as fire prevention and CPR. Safety organizations such as your local fire department are always more than willing to facilitate your employees’ training.

Pre-Shift Construction Safety Meeting

Just like unpaid construction invoices, dealing with disasters is complicated. Disasters can strike when you least expect them. But with proper planning and workforce training, you can mitigate the impact that they have on your operations.

Chris Woodard

About the Author: Chris Woodard is the Co-Founder of Handle.com, where they build software that helps contractors, subcontractors, and material suppliers with late payments. Handle.com also provides funding for construction businesses in the form of invoice factoring, material supply trade credit, and mechanics lien purchasing.

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