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Safety 101: best practices for land development

Jan 7, 2020 6:41:28 AM

We all know the show “Are you smarter than a 5th grader,” and it brings up an important concept to consider – we often forget the basic foundation and small details of knowledge from long ago. 

According to OSHA, nearly 6.5 million people work at 252,000 construction sites across the nation on any given day. The fatal injury rate for the construction industry is higher than the national industry average and has high exposure to risk, so it’s always a best practice to minimize this risk as much as possible.

Most mistakes and accidents on the job are entirely avoidable, and it’s a good idea to refresh on simple safety tips just to make sure you’re not letting anything slip through the cracks. From taking safety precautions on the worksite to streamlining the research process for property information, there are many different ways to make sure that your employees and contractors are working in a safe, reduced risk environment.

Easy Ways to Reduce Risk for your Team

As industry professionals, you know the importance of a solid foundation – literally. From proper safety guidelines to the correct zoning and building codes, the success of your projects is determined early on in the timeline by the standards you uphold and the practices you implement. 

To make sure you’re putting employee safety first, read OSHA’s guidelines for construction safety and tips on keeping your team diligent and watchful on the job for different types of construction dangers. Your processes, safety precautions and checks and balances (or lack thereof) will lead you to success and growth in the long-run while reducing risk and optimizing your inputs along the way. 

Check out some easy, straightforward ways to prioritize your worker’s safety without postponing your project timelines: 


Every year, there are an estimated 4,500 injuries and 50 fatalities from construction workers on scaffolding. From unstable materials to improper use, there are key solutions that can minimize your worker’s risk of exposure to these hazards: 

  1. Scaffold must be sound, rigid and sufficient to carry its own weight PLUS four (4) times the maximum intended load without settling or displacement. 
  2. Support scaffolding only with stable, solid objects. Do not set up on loose bricks, barrels, boxes or planks. 
  3. Distance scaffolds 10 feet from electric power lines. 
  4. Equip with guardrails, mid-rails and toeboards. Replace old scaffold accessories like braces, brackets, trusses and screw legs. 

Fall Protection.

Falls consistently account for the greatest amount of fatalities in the construction industry. From unstable working surfaces to failure of using fall protection equipment, make sure you’re covering your bases and everyone is taking precautions: 

  1. Consider using aerial lifts or elevated platforms to provide safer elevated working surfaces.
  2. Use guardrail systems with toeboards and warning lines or install control line systems to protect workers near the edges of roofs/floors.
  3. Cover floor holes
  4. Use safety net systems or body harnesses.
  5. Use proper head protection and wear hard hats. 

Ladders and Stairways.

From slips to falls, these are another major cause of injuries and fatalities on construction sites. You can read OSHA’s key tips for safety on their stairways and ladders guide or check out this list for an overview of their advice:

  1. Use the correct ladder for the task at hand.
  2. Make sure the ladder is long enough to safely reach the work area. 
  3. Mark or tag defective ladders for repair, replacement or destroy immediately.
  4. Avoid using ladders with metallic components near electrical work and overhead power lines. 
  5. Clear stairway treads and walkways from dangerous objects, debris and materials. 
  6. Install handrails for stairways with 4 or more risers or height more than 30 inches.

Stay Up-to-date

The most updated work regulations can be found on the OSHA website, in addition to guides on scaffold usage, concrete and masonry construction, regulations for the home building industry and residential construction. Incorporating these best practices will boost productivity, improve your work environments and reinforce safety above all else. That’s especially important when you’re trying to leave a good impression with clients, expand your customer base and grow your company. 

While it's important to make sure you’re prioritizing safety on the worksite, it’s also important to make sure you’re complying with all of the building codes, municipality regulations and zoning. Without thorough research and compliance with these, your projects won’t be approved and you’ll be back at square one. 

Unfortunately, because of the way this data is organized and spread across different municipalities, organizations and dates, it’s not always a straightforward process to find the land information you need. You may end up navigating across five different websites for the building code in your area, only to find that what you’ve got was last year’s code and the IRC/ICC has since updated it!

PermitDocs: The Perfect Property Information Management Tool

PermitDocs is your all-in-one source for land development information – we don’t just supply the municipality codes at a click, we also provide all of the zoning and building codes relevant for your projects. 

And, PermitDocs allows you to share, communicate and collaborate over all of this land information – bringing the boots and the suits together so that your team can communicate in real-time, reduce risk while planning and building and feel confident that you’re making well-informed decisions with reliable information. With PermitDocs, you can access all of the documents required for each project, share them with anyone and streamline your research process. It’s never been easier to quickly deliver outstanding projects to your clients. 


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