Basic Rules of Safety at Work

  The improvement of safety, health and working conditions ultimately depends on the collaboration of people who work together, whether employers or workers. Security management includes the functions of planning, identification of problem areas, coordination, control and direction of safety activities in the work, all with the aim of preventing accidents and diseases. It is […]


The improvement of safety, health and working conditions ultimately depends on the collaboration of people who work together, whether employers or workers. Security management includes the functions of planning, identification of problem areas, coordination, control and direction of safety activities in the work, all with the aim of preventing accidents and diseases. It is often misunderstood what accident prevention means, since most people mistakenly believe that “accident” is equivalent to “injury”, which presupposes that an accident is unimportant unless it leads to an injury. Construction managers are obviously concerned about workers’ injuries, but their main concern should be the hazardous conditions that cause them, the “incident” rather than the “injury” itself. In a construction site there are many more “incidents” than injuries. A dangerous action can be done hundreds of times before it causes an injury, and efforts should be concentrated on eliminating those potential dangers: you cannot expect human or material damage to do anything.

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So, security management means taking security measures before accidents occur. An effective security management pursues three main objectives:

Safety rules

Safe and healthy working conditions do not happen by chance: employers must have a written policy of safety in the company that establishes the health and safety standards they intend to achieve. Said policy shall appoint the chief in charge of applying the rules and authorized to delegate responsibilities to the management and the supervisors at all levels for the fulfillment of the same. The security policy must cover the following aspects:

  • Devices to provide training at all levels. It is necessary to pay special attention to workers in key positions, such as those who build scaffolding and handle cranes, whose mistakes can be especially dangerous for others;
  • Safe working methods or systems for risky operations; the workers who carry out these operations must participate in its preparation;
  • Duties and responsibilities of supervisors and workers in key positions;
  • Devices to disclose health and safety information;
  • Measures to establish security commissions;
  • Selection and control of subcontractors.

Organisation of security

The organization of security in a construction site will depend on the size of the construction, the employment system and the way in which the project is organised. It is necessary to keep safety and health records that facilitate the identification and resolution of problems of that nature.

In construction projects where subcontractors are used, the contract must establish the responsibilities, duties and safety measures that are expected of the work force of the subcontractor. Said measures may include the supply and use of certain safety equipment, methods for the execution of specific tasks in a safe manner, and the inspection and proper handling of tools. The person in charge of the work must also verify that the materials, equipment and tools brought to it comply with the minimum safety standards.

Training should be provided at all levels: management, supervisors and workers. It may also be necessary to train subcontractors and their workers in the safety procedures of the work, since different teams of specialised workers can affect their mutual safety.

Safety supervisor

Construction companies of any size must appoint one or several duly qualified persons whose main and special responsibility will be the promotion of safety and health. Whoever is appointed must have direct access to the executive director of the company, and among his duties will be:

  • The organization of information that will be transmitted from the management to the workers, including those who work for subcontractors;
  • The organization and conduct of safety training programs, including basic training for construction workers;
  • The investigation and study of the circumstances and causes of accidents and occupational diseases, in order to advise on preventive measures;
  • Provide consulting services and technical support to the security commission;
  • Participate in the previous planning of the work.

To fulfil these functions, the security officer must have experience in the industry and have adequate training, as well as belong to a recognised professional association of safety and health, in the countries where they exist.


Every worker has a moral duty to exercise maximum care for their own safety and that of their colleagues. There are several ways to achieve the direct participation of workers in the preparation of the work, such as:

  • Previous instruction sessions: meetings of five to ten minutes with the supervisors before beginning the task, giving these and the workers the opportunity to consider the security problems that may arise, and their possible solution. It is a simple activity that can prevent serious accidents;
  • Safety control: proof that workers perform to verify the safety of the environment before starting an operation and allows them to take preventive measures to correct situations of risk that could then endanger them or other workers.

Safety commissions

A dynamic security commission is a great incentive. Its primary purpose is for the management and workers to collaborate in monitoring the safety plan of the work, to prevent accidents and improve working conditions. Its size and number of members will depend on the size and nature of the work under construction and the different legal provisions and social circumstances of the countries in question, but it must always be an action-oriented group in which both the management and the management are represented. Workers. Inspections of the work by the full commission raise awareness of safety.

The duties to be fulfilled by a dynamic security commission will include:

  • Regular and frequent meetings at the construction site to consider the safety and health program and make recommendations to management;
  • Study of security personnel reports;
  • Analysis of reports on accidents and diseases in order to make preventive recommendations;
  • Evaluation of improvements introduced;
  • Study of the suggestions presented by the workers, especially by the security representatives;
  • Planning of educational and training programs and information sessions, and participation in them.

Plan and layout of the work

The sequence or order in which tasks and especially dangerous processes or operations will be carried out.

The access of workers to the work and its surrounding areas. The routes must be free of obstructions and risks such as falling materials, equipment and vehicles. Appropriate warning signs should be posted. The roads to and from the toilets, changing rooms, etc., require similar consideration. It will be necessary to install protections on the edges of wells and stairs, and in any place where there is a fall of two meters or more to the vacuum.

Ways to move vehicles. They should be one-handed, as far as possible. Traffic congestion is harmful. The bad ordering of the work and the lack of space prevent the safe movement of workers and vehicles and are the cause of accidents.

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