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One of the chief sources of liability for contractors occurs when the public is put in danger around a construction site. Falling debris, unstable ground, heavy equipment and other risks abound for those who are not trained or covered by safety policies and procedures. It is therefore of utmost importance for a contracting business to take the proper steps to protect the public around a job site.

The Basics Aren’t Enough

Most public work sites are covered by putting up a fence or otherwise cordoning off the area to keep the public out. In addition, OSHA requires signage to be put up, warning against parked equipment, falling hazards or other area dangers.

However, these precautions may not be enough. What if an incident occurs beyond the boundary of the job site? Falling debris can go past the fence or blockade, for example, and the contractor could be found liable for resulting injuries.

The Public and Trespassers

It is important to be detail-oriented when protecting sites. For example, the American National Standards Institute, or ANSI, does not include trespassers in their standards for protecting the public. Thus, when putting up signage it is important to include a “No Trespassing” admonishment as well.

Go the Extra Mile

OSHA, ANSI and the American Society of Safety Engineers (ASSE) are all important resources for setting safety standards. However, the standards put forth by these groups are a starting point, not the be-all, end-all of safety and security.

It is vital for contractors to go above and beyond when establishing procedures for safeguarding the public in and around the job site. Every company should develop control plans for public hazards, as well as establish emergency action plans for dealing with such situations when they do arise.

High Traffic and High Risk Areas

Safety procedures and protocols are exceptionally valuable in areas of high risk or high traffic. These locations can include:

  • Urban streets
  • Near schools
  • Around hospitals
  • Near parks and monuments

Involving Workers

Your workers and staff should be heavily involved in these safety procedures. They need to be as invested as you are in keeping the public safe. This comes from establishing training programs in the best practices for public security. The better trained your workforce is, the more likely they will be to keep a safe zone around the work area.

Posting watches, controlling traffic and warning people away from danger while being prepared to explain the risks should all be important parts of worker training. Such efforts will greatly reduce your liability and keep not only your workers and site safe, but protect the public from harmful and potentially devastating incidents.

Have you had any incidents or close calls that taught you a valuable lesson? What are your thoughts about public security and safety policies and procedures? How do you feel about the cost vs. benefit of getting your staff involved? We would love to hear your thoughts on this issue. Leave us a comment below and let us hear what you have to say.

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