Construction and general labor careers all come with extremely high health and safety standards to protect all workers within these industries. Given the amount of equipment and challenging locations in which these projects take place, civil engineers and construction workers alike face many dangers.
As of 2012, this industry has the 2nd highest fatality rate among workers under the age of 18 in the United States. However, because of an increase in safety legislation and safer, more technologically advanced equipment, that statistic is beginning to fall.
There are many activities that civil engineers take part in that put their safety at risk, which most careers do not regularly face. These can include working at extreme heights in open areas, working at extreme depths and within unstable tunnels, using heavy machinery and explosives, and working over bodies of water. Developing a plan to best prepare for and even eliminate these dangers requires identifying them, and minimizing the impact they may have on a worker and his or her family.
Civil engineers and their employers should take the proper steps in making sure their work procedures are sound, and thus safe. However, eliminating risk entirely is not always possible. For example, workers assigned to renovate and restructure dilapidated tunnels will inevitably be working in an unstable, underground environment. In this case, minimizing the impact a potential hazard may have is the next best step. This can involve updating a civil engineer’s equipment to the latest, safest tools available, or limiting his or her time spent within the unstable environment to prevent injury or health risks.
While developing these safety plans certainly require on-site surveys and receiving a basic understanding of the environment in which employees will be working, much of the planning will be done within an office setting, going over standard work procedures and how each worker should best implement them. These may vary depending on the tasks. Say, for example, a civil engineer is assigned to measure the size and test the quality of an area where a building will sit. The safety measures that go into this will differ greatly than those given to someone working with explosives.
Every business working with civil engineers, and independent civil engineers as well should have health and safety plans set in place to protect the wellbeing of all those involved. Should an accident occur, this plan also allows someone to be named responsible. Managers, workers, and any visitors should all be in good hands upon entering construction sites.