Safety on the Jobsite

Remember, it’s not really your home…yet

When you’re building your dream home, it’s only natural you’ll want to visit the construction site to check up on the progress. But touring an unfinished home poses many dangers, such as falling into excavations and openings, tripping on building materials, getting electrocuted, and taking knocks to the head.

Damon Alcock, Strategic Services Director with the Nova Scotia Construction Safety Association (NSCSA), says site safety is very important during the construction of a new home, because the site conditions and hazards could change on a daily – or even hourly – basis.

Homeowners should speak with the builder to determine the best – and safest – time to visit their in-progress home. This will give the builder time to inform any sub-trade on site, and determine if there any areas that are deemed too risky for the homeowner to walk through.

“Some homeowners like to visit the site during the night when the builders are not working, but I would exercise extreme caution,” says Alcock. “With diminished lighting and no one familiar with the site to guide you around, there is a potential for injury.”

If you’re hoping to bring family members or friends with you, it’s important to tell the builder beforehand so they can arrange for adequate “escorts” during the tour.

“If there is a requirement for hard hats and safety glasses on the worksite, then it is expected that all visitors must wear hard hats and safety glasses,” says Alcock. “Injury can happen to anyone on the site. The builder should brief the homeowner on the hazards before walking through.”

While a homeowner is visiting the site, Alcock says they can feel free to talk to anyone working on their home – but they must keep in mind that there’s one primary person in charge: the builder.

“The home being built was in agreement with yourself and the builder, so any sub-trades on the site are following the plans they were provided by the builder,” says Alcock. “If you visit a site and you are not happy with a certain design aspect, discuss it with your builder – not the sub-trade.”

And while a homeowner might be having a great time chatting it up with their window-installer, Alcock cautions about taking too much time away

“Homes are usually built on a tight schedule, so the more you interrupt work on the site, the more delays there will be on finishing the home.”

Alcock says there will be times when certain areas of the home are off-limits, depending on the building progress, so it’s important that homeowners discuss this with the builder before they start wandering around.

“There may be areas on the site where workers do the majority of their cutting, and that area should be off-limits due to the dangers of the power tools,” says Alcock. “The entire interior may be off-limits during the truss and roofing stages, due to the risk of items falling on their heads.”

Alcock says it’s critical that homeowners are respectful of the builder’s safety rules, because they’re designed to ensure everyone goes home at the end of each day without injury.

“Safety is a shared responsibility, and if a homeowner ignores these rules, they put themselves and everyone else on the worksite at risk,” says Alcock. “The goal is to get your new home built as efficiently and as safely as possible.”

For more information on worksite safety, homeowners can contact the Department of Labour and Advanced Education at (902) 424-5301 or the NSCSA at 1-800-971-3888.

Heather Laura Clarke

Heather Laura Clarke

Heather Laura Clarke is a freelance journalist whose work regularly appears in many Atlantic Canadian newspapers and magazines, including The Chronicle Herald, Metro, Hub Now, Business Voice, Dugger's, Progress, East Coast Living, Bedford Magazine, and Southender Magazine. She also has several corporate clients.