Unless you’re a real-life superhero…and let’s be honest with ourselves here…you’re going to need some seriously heavy plant machinery to handle structural steel on a construction site. There’s just no way you’re going to be lifting the stuff by hand or erecting the frame of a structure without the assistance of big machinery – as so many have found out the hard way with all manner of strains, sprains and broken bones.
Heavy plant machinery is a staple across every big building site in the UK today, but when it comes to basic health and safety considerations, there are some pretty big holes to be filled. People often think that jumping in the cabin of a crane deserves no more thought than grabbing a hammer or plugging in a drill, but in reality this isn’t the case at all. The way you approach the plant machinery you use while handling your structural steel can and will have a direct effect on the overall safety of the site you’re working on.
Construction sites need particular guidelines
So if you’re likely to face the task of using heavy plant in the near future to handle heavy steel objects, but sure to ask yourself the following:
Am I Qualified?
The most important consideration of all – owning a driving license does not in any way mean you’re qualified for operating heavy plant. Right now, thousands of organisations across the UK are offering all manner of training courses and official certification for those that are put through their paces and acquire professional plant operation skills. In fact, it’s now getting to such a point than most site managers and building companies will not even take workers on in the first place if they aren’t fully certified in plant operation.
Of course, there will always be those that don’t really care too much for the ‘official’ way of doing things, which is why certification technically isn’t a legal requirement. As such, this is precisely why it’s so important to ask yourself whether or not you yourself feel you are qualified enough to carry out such a task. Do you really know what you are doing, or have you gotten by so far by just making it up as you go along? If for any reason you don’t think you’re qualified for the job, don’t even think about doing it.
Am I Confident Enough?
Qualification will take you so far, but being qualified doesn’t necessarily make you competent or confident. This is why it’s also important to call into question your general confidence for the task at hand, should it be one of a particularly difficult or demanding nature. You may have operated a lifter to get a few steel rods to an upper floor, but are you really sure you’re ready to lift three tons of the stuff with a gigantic crane? In these kinds of scenarios it’s way better to accept your limitations and seek help, rather than simply going ahead with it and risking the health and safety of pretty much everyone present.
Is the Machine Suitable?
Then of course comes the compatibility of the machine itself – something you should know about if you’re fully qualified. Every piece of machinery across a building site has its own limitations in terms of how much it can lift, how much it can carry, the kinds of angles it can work on, the terrain it can run on and so on. In order to lift and move steel safely, you’ll need to know all of this information right down to the letter. This is one area in which it is far too dangerous to make assumptions as even the slightest oversight can be disastrous. Polsteel Structural Steel Fabricators and companies like them can advise on approach to plant and machine safety.
When it comes to construction safety is paramount
Think of it a little like the proverbial straw that broke the camel’s back.
It all sounds like a bit of an unnecessary scare story, but the reality of it all is that nearly every single accident that happens at any UK building site could easily have been prevented with a little common sense. It’s all about knowing not only your own limits, but the limits of the equipment you use at the same time. It’s not as if huge steel rods are going to jump up and bite you in the rear end, but your own lackadaisical attitude to the whole thing could very well do exactly that!
You’re building a structure that’s going to be there for decades to come and serve some kind of important purpose – surely it’s worth putting together with due care and attention, right?
Image credits: USACE and Ell Brown