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5 safety tips to keep objects on construction sites from falling

You're walking home from work when you pass a construction site. There are fences up, but you still have to walk on the sidewalk directly below the scaffold system. As you walk through, checking your email on your phone, something falls to the ground and shatters on the pavement right behind you. You barely have time to look up when something else hits you on the shoulder.

As you recover in the hospital, you are well aware that your injuries could have been far more severe. In fact, you could have been killed. Even so, you now have unpaid medical bills and you're missing time from work.

The risk

One of the greatest dangers to workers and pedestrians on and near construction sites is being struck by a falling object. These objects include power and hand tools, parts and materials, broken debris and even safety equipment. Anything that can fall is a potential hazard.

Below are five safety tips for construction crews to keep in mind:

1. Secure all loads before lifts

Any load being lifted to a height higher than a worker's head needs to be properly secured. This often means using straps and ropes, and sometimes it means wrapping the entire load in plastic.

2. Never lift loads over people

Workers must clear the area before a load gets lifted above their heads. Crews should stop pedestrians on the sidewalk or cars on the road before hoisting a load over them. Always assume the load will fall, even while working hard to ensure that it does not.

3. Offer proper warnings

Warning signs should be posted anywhere with foot traffic. In some cases, workers may have the sole job of warning others on the ground when objects get moved over their heads. You can never have too many warnings.

4. Use safety devices and equipment

Workers must wear hard hats at all times. To protect those on the street, crews should install protective devices, such as boards over the sidewalks. These can catch falling debris. In the example noted above, having a board over the sidewalk could have prevented a passerby from getting hit when objects fell from the work zone.

5. Clean up the work site, especially at elevation

Unnecessary clutter can lead to mistakes, accidents and falling objects. Workers should clean up debris and materials periodically throughout the day. Tools should get put away at the end of every shift. Taking 10 minutes to clean up can prevent a disaster later.

Even when employing the above safety tips, construction crews in New York will still face hazards on the job. Those who suffer injuries must know what legal rights they have.

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