What is a Construction Site: Types, Safety and Signs

A construction site consists of the location and boundaries of a particular parcel of land. These boundaries are then based on a metes and bounds survey.
May 28, 2021

What is a Construction Site: Types, Safety and Signs

When getting started into construction and all the jargon in the industry, it is important that you start with the fundamentals. The fundamentals of a built environment involve getting familiar with the basics of construction. That way even construction site beginners in the industry can understand the reasons behind the science of construction.

This guide will take you through the definitions, different types of a construction site, safety requirements, protective equipment, training and construction site signs.

Keep reading if you're interested in the fundamentals of a construction site and how you can stay safe.

What is a Construction Site?

According to the book Building Construction by Francis D. K. Ching, legally, a construction site consists of the location and boundaries of a particular parcel of land. These boundaries are then based on a metes and bounds survey. Sometimes these boundaries are based on other types of surveys such as a rectangular system type of survey or they are made through a reference based on a recorded plat.

Different Types of Construction Sites

Residential Construction Sites

These are sites that aim at constructing habitable residential homes. Residential homes include anything from houses, townhouses, apartments, cottages etc. The design aspect of these projects is done by architects and civil engineers. The building part of it is done by contractors. They are in charge of the overall construction phase.

The contractors then hire subcontractors. This could be anyone like a plumber, electrician, etc. Their job is to get in there and do the additional details of the entire project.

Furthermore, these projects, like other construction site projects, are put under a quality microscope after construction. It has to be ascertained that the construction is high quality and the building is habitable. This is known as a home inspection.

Usually, the checklist includes: wall thickness, applicable and required safety features, paint and plaster quality and should the building have elevators, they will also be up for examination. The home inspection will usually have two or three inspectors depending on the number of lots or the size of buildings.

Ultimately, it comes down to the construction project size and how fast you want the home inspection to go.

Building Construction Sites

This construction process involves constructing additional buildings that are added to projects with pre-existing buildings. Usually, this involves adding extra utilities to homes and giving clients additional space to work with.

This is the most popular type of a construction site because ultimately you could consider it a makeover of sorts. Everyone loves a good makeover.

Institutional and Commercial Sites

These project sites involve constructing structures to traditional institutions or organizations. They usually include: hospitals, universities, stadiums, malls, factories, skyscrapers, hotels etc. For example, the Olympics were previously supposed to be held in Japan in 2020. During that time, stadiums were under construction to hold the upcoming Olympics, despite the unfortunate events that occurred.

The sites where these stadiums were to be built, were considered Institutional sites because they were government funded programs.

Industrials Construction Sites

These are corporate-funded project sites. They make up the majority of the industry because of the huge project sizes entailed. As shared, these are corporate funded projects, that means they are usually in it for the profit. It is their way of doing business.

Highway Construction Sites

As the title says, these construction site projects are mainly infrastructure based. You'll mainly find these sites along roads. Sometimes they may construct new roads or road features such as roundabouts or they may repair roads that have potholes and the like.

You may find these construction site projects are in partnership with the local authority in charge of roads and their safety.

Heavy Construction Sites

For those projects that do not fall under any of the sites mentioned above, they tend to fall into this category. Especially so if they are dealing with large specialized fields such as dams, water and sewer lines, flood controls etc.

Safety Requirements in Construction Sites

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration is in charge of regulating the standards for construction sites. You may find these in the 1926 section. They are all divided into numerous possibilities in order to reduce the number of accidents and deaths caused as a result of construction sites.

  • The fall protection standard states that fall protection is required in the case that an employee is working along an edge with an unprotected side. More so, if the edge is six feet from the ground.
  • Another requirement pertains to confined spaces. It is required that employers should set requirements that protect employees while they are working in confined spaces.
  • Fire extinguishers with more than a 2A rating have to be efficiently placed every 3000 square feet. They should also be distributed based on the size of a potential hazard.

These are just some examples of the safety regulations put in place by the OSHA. Besides that, there are also training regulations listed by the OSHA.

  • Employers are required to provide ladder safety training to their employees.
  • The regulations also provide safe ladder climbing techniques in section 1910.23.
  • Section 1926.1053 states that fixed ladders must be provided with ladder safety devices or self-retracting lifelines.

Common Personal Protective Equipment Gear

The OSHA also covers PPE (Personal Protective Equipment) standards.

  • Foot Protection: footwear has to comply with the standards of the American National Institute.
  • Electrical Protective Equipment: there are design requirements for insulating blankets, matting, covers, line hose, gloves and sleeves.
  • Head Protection: this is mandatory should the employee be in an area where there is a probability of a head injury.
  • Hearing Protection: the regulations also note that hearing protection must be given if an employee is in the hearing range of 90 decibels noise exposure. The NRR (noise reduction rating) is used to check how many decibels hearing protection devices and protect employees from.
  • Eye and face Protection: if employees are working with power tools or machines that may cause eye or facial injuries, they are required to be provided with eye and face protection.
  • Respiratory Protection: This mainly highlights respiratory requirements, protection program and respiratory products.
  • Lifelines, Safety Belts and Lanyards: these must only be used for the sole purpose of employee safeguarding. It showcases fall protection systems, their placement and when they can be used for specific construction activities.
  • Safety Nets: Safety nets have to be provided when employees are working over 25 feet off the ground, water surfaces or any other type of surface for that matter. Any other thing other than a safety net is considered completely impractical.
  • Working Over or Near Water: if employees are working in any of these scenarios, they have to be provided with U.S. Coast Guard verified life jackets and work vests. Another thing that should be provided is ring buoys that are about 90 feet, no less, in the case of an emergency.

Common Construction Site Signs

The standards stated by the OSHA share that all signs and symbols must be in a visible area, when work is undergoing, at all times. If the hazard has been removed from the construction site, the sign can be removed.

Here are some of the common construction signs as stated by the OSHA

  • Danger signs
  • Caution Signs
  • Exit signs
  • Safety Instruction signs
  • Directional signs
  • Traffic control signs
  • Accident prevention tags
  • Accident rules

Construction Safety and Excellence Done Right

When approaching a construction site, either as a guest or a staff worker, it is important to read all the rules and regulations set by the contracting company. This is because this is a hazardous environment.

Regardless, it is through maintaining these regulations and standards that functional structures are put up. Houses, roads and other man-made structures are able to serve the communities in which they are built.

Construction sites are dangerous areas due to the heavy machinery that are involved. They are accident prone and without the regulations shared above, the number of employee deaths would be astronomical.

These construction regulations are meant to save lives.

The OSHA monitors the statistics, especially in regards to employee deaths in construction sites. Through these observations, they are able to update the regulations. The construction field is also evolving due to technology.

Not only that but also adhering to construction safety regulations and understanding construction sites can you protect yourself and those around you from unwanted situations. Read the construction signs and wear the protective gear given to you.

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