Construction Hazard Identification: The Basics

Learn how to identify and assess potential construction hazards that can cause injuries or fatalities on construction sites.

What is Construction Hazard Identification?

Construction hazard identification is the process of recognizing and evaluating potential hazards that can occur during construction activities. It involves identifying the types of hazards, assessing their risks, and implementing measures to mitigate or eliminate them.

Types of Construction Hazards

Construction hazards typically involve three categories, while other types of hazards may also be known depending on the nature of the project. Here’s a quick guide to the most common hazards present in construction work:

Physical Hazards

Physical hazards are the most common type of hazard in construction. A good way to determine the physical hazards you might have on your site is by conducting pre-start checks and safety audits to evaluate all potential hazards before undertaking certain kinds of work.

Examples of Physical Hazards in Construction: 

Chemical Hazards

Chemical hazards typically include exposure to hazardous substances like solvents, paints, adhesives, and other common chemicals that are used in construction. These hazards can cause acute or chronic effects acquired through inhalation, ingestion, absorption, or injection (skin punctures).

Examples of Chemical Hazards in Construction: 

  • Asbestos
  • Lead
  • Silica
  • Welding fumes
  • Solvents

Ergonomic Hazards

These include hazards related to repetitive motions, heavy lifting, or other physical demands that can cause musculoskeletal disorders (MSDs). Ergonomic hazards are usually self-inflicted through working with unhealthy conditions such as wrong postures, but can also be inflicted by the usage of tools, equipment, and environment.

Examples of Ergonomic Hazards in Construction: 

  • Poorly designed tools
  • Vibration exposure
  • Heavy lifting
  • Awkward postures
  • Inadequate training

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How to Identify Construction Hazards in Two Ways

After exploring the types of hazards present in construction processes, it’s vital to know how to identify them. Here are two ways to do this, as follows:

Regular Site Inspections

Conduct a thorough site inspection by walking through the entire construction site to identify any hazards that may be present or develop over time. Look for obvious signs such as uneven surfaces, sharp edges, exposed wires, or missing guards. There are many ways to conduct site inspections, but it’s important to use a comprehensive checklist to ensure you don’t miss anything.

Job Safety/Hazard Analysis (JSA/JHA)

Provide guidance on recognizing common hazards in the construction industry and evaluating their severity and likelihood. Create bite-sized training courses to enhance workers’ skills in identifying hazards, assessing risks, and determining appropriate control measures during the JSA/JHA process. Track training completion and engagement to pinpoint areas for improvement.

Eligio Rempillo
Article by

Eligio Rempillo

SafetyCulture Content Specialist
Eligio Rempillo is a content writer and researcher for SafetyCulture. With experience in working with clients various industries including animal care products, food, technology, and personal protective equipment for industrial uses, he is committed to advocating workplace safety and keep your business with up-to-date technologies for a better way of working.