This Summer, Work Safer Like a Construction Worker

ByByron Lee, Ph.D., Senior Manager, Marketing and Communications, GBCA WPVI logo
Thursday, June 29, 2023
Safety Consultant James McGugan gives a toolbox talk briefing on safety information for construction sites that can also be useful for the general public.

PHILADELPHIA (WPVI) -- "Safety only works when everyone participates." That's a common saying in construction, but it also represents the all-hands-on-deck approach that's needed to keep everyone who lives and works in Philadelphia safe. And for the General Building Contractors Association (GBCA), Greater Philadelphia's union commercial construction association, this attitude should extend beyond the construction industry, especially as the summer weather gets hotter.

Enhancing safety in construction

One of GBCA's goals is to help workers go home alive and well every day by providing programs that protect the thousands of women and men building up our city's skyline and landscape.

"Providing the tools and resources that keep people safe - whether they're on a construction site or simply using an electrical cord at home - is about doing what's right for our community," says GBCA President & CEO Benjamin J. Connors, Esq. CAE. "Safety has always been a priority for GBCA, and we're committed to supporting the wellbeing of Philadelphians in construction and beyond."

GBCA has a robust lineup of safety resources for the construction industry, including in-person training sessions, on-demand online safety trainings, and a free library of mobile-friendly Toolbox Talks (short training materials) to keep safety at the top of minds on jobsites.

"The most successful construction companies all have one thing in common: a culture centered around safety. GBCA helps contractors and their teams foster this safety-first mentality by making essential information easy to access, easy to digest, and easy to remember," says James McGugan, a former OSHA outreach trainer who now serves as GBCA's Safety Consultant.

Working safely in the heat

This summer, GBCA hopes that all Philadelphians will look through its tips and resources for working safely in the heat. As temperatures rise and the weather gets sunnier, working conditions for construction workers working on buildings and on roadways are getting hot.

But these conditions are not special to construction workers: Anyone working outdoors, such as landscapers and camp counselors can easily fall ill due to hot conditions. Working indoors also poses similar problems: Construction, warehouse, and restaurant workers in buildings without adequate air conditioning face hot working conditions, even though direct sun is not a factor.

GBCA's free Heat Safety Toolbox Talks give reminders, such as taking a drink every 20 minutes and resting in a shady spot when working in the heat. Resources include information about an app that gives real-time temperature forecasts, the heat index, and the heat risk to those working outdoors. There's even a toolbox talk describing the symptoms of heat-related illnesses, helping workers spot when someone might be in trouble.

GBCA's Heat Safety Toolbox Talk outlines three ways to prevent heat stress while working in the heat.

Avoiding everyday safety hazards

GBCA also hopes that other safety tips can be used by the general public in their everyday lives.

"Many of the hazards we see on construction sites are actually the same risks people encounter in other lines of work or at home. They relate to things like using extension cords properly, avoiding slips, trips, and falls, ladder safety, and more," notes McGugan. "Safety reminders like these can often make the difference between having an accident and avoiding one," he adds.

These tips include pointers such as:

  • Replace extension cords that are worn or that show exposed wires.
  • When going up or down a ladder, always keep three points of contact with the ladder (two feet and one hand, or two hands and one foot).
  • Avoid falls by paying attention to where you're walking and making sure you can see the path ahead, especially if you're carrying something.
  • Avoid distractions like using your phone when walking or driving by active construction sites.

Visit gbca.com for more information and gbca.com/toolboxtalks for GBCA's safety resources, including the heat safety toolbox talks.

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