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Conduct Risk Assessment for Working Around Water

Construction crews working close to water need to know the risks they face and have a safety plan if an accident occurs.

Before starting any projects near water bodies, conduct a risk assessment. Evaluate the risk to your employees. Take into account the likelihood of an injury and what type of injury that might be. What might the severity of that injury be?

Consider who is at risk. This may include vulnerable groups such as migrant workers or young, less experienced employees or apprentices.

Risk Controls

Controls might come into play to avoid accidents. They may include the following:

  • Working with a team or a partner if job sites are on or around water
  • Two people should be in sight of each other at all times
  • Have a rescue vessel on standby, if required
  • Use waterproof communication devices. Test them before work begins
  • Have an emergency plan that includes who to contact for water rescue or other emergency services
  • Have proper first aid provisions on hand
  • Conduct specialist training, if necessary

Working around water may also call for lifebuoys that meet approved standards and have a suitable buoyant lifeline attached. But, again, keep it close to any working position where someone risks falling into the water.

Find out if your employees know how to swim. Have suitable lifejackets onsite and require every employee to wear one. Ensure you have lifejackets of the correct buoyancy, which depends on a number of factors, including an employee’s weight.

If tool belts are being worn, this will affect the buoyancy protection of a lifejacket.

Carefully select buoyancy equipment with appropriate standards, considering all factors listed above.

Consider weather conditions and whether foul weather gear should be worn.

Provide other PPE, or personal protective equipment, as necessary to protect against hazards on the worksite, including chemical exposure.

Workers need to cover broken skin and wash hands thoroughly if working in rat-contaminated areas. Weil’s disease comes from exposure to rats, but since the symptoms do not always show up immediately, a worker can be misdiagnosed at the time when treatment can be most effective. Workers should see a doctor if they have symptoms such as feverish headaches or general aches and pains similar to flu symptoms.

Always have employees wear insect repellant and long-sleeved shirts.

Working with electrical equipment around water has its own set of hazards. Ensure that all electrical equipment is installed, constructed, operated, maintained, and protected to prevent electrical burns or shock accidents.

Electrical equipment should also be protected from inclement weather. This includes portable generators.

If necessary, install guardrails on the worksite to prevent falls. In addition, have employees wear suitable footwear to avoid slips.

Projects near or on the water require adequate training and supervision to control the job site properly. Ensure that all employees know the risks they face and what to do should an accident occur.

Disclaimer: The information contained in this article is for general educational information only. This information does not constitute legal advice, is not intended to constitute legal advice, nor should it be relied upon as legal advice for your specific factual pattern or situation.