Whenever you visit somewhere that you’re not familiar with, it’s a sign of respect and politeness to learn about the general etiquette that is expected of you. This applies to visiting different countries, for business or pleasure, and tasks like visiting construction sites or workplaces. Understanding how unfamiliar environments operate is essential to be able to conduct your visit in the right way.
Visitors to a construction site can be quite disruptive for workers, so it’s up to you as the visitor to ensure that you follow the guidelines and general etiquette expected when on site. Whether you are a project manager, owner, investor or any other stakeholder, respecting the worksite is essential to keep everyone safe and limit distractions. Below we run through some of the basics of site etiquette if you’re new to such visits or just want a refresher.
Know your contact and meeting destination
Firstly, you should confirm your meeting destination, time and the person you are meeting with to avoid any confusion or delays. This is both polite and will help to ensure that meetings run as on time as possible, which will help to keep the wider project running smoothly. If you aren’t meeting with the principal contractor (the person who is managing the site and construction phase), then be sure to confirm your presence with them upon arrival.
Follow the instructions from your guide
If you are visiting a construction project then you may not be familiar with the particular site. Your initial contact may be taking you on the tour or they could pass you on to a dedicated guide to show you around. It’s imperative that you follow every instruction given to you by the person showing you around because they will be aware of the dangers of the site and all the precautions needed to mitigate these hazards. If you have any questions, don’t be afraid to ask – no matter how silly you think a question sounds. Better to be safe than sorry.
Check-in and out of the worksite
Before you enter the worksite you should be asked to sign into a visitor book or check-in sheet. This is a fundamental safety precaution to ensure that all personnel onsite can be checked and accounted for in the event of an emergency, and to register your arrival for security purposes. You should check out on your exit too so there is a record of you leaving the site, otherwise, people could be trying to look for you if there is an emergency when you aren’t even on-site anymore.
Wear all the protective equipment provided
You may be asked to bring some protective gear yourself, such as safety boots, but most sites will give you PPE before entering the work area. You must wear everything that is given to you – most likely some high-visibility clothing, a hard hat, protective eyewear and anything else that is required on a particular site. Contractors have a legal duty to protect all visitors and staff on-site, so you should follow their guidance at every stage.
Don’t distract workers and limit personal distractions
Construction sites are hazardous environments and workers need to be paying full attention to their tasks and surroundings. With this in mind, you should avoid distracting workers that haven’t been advised to greet you. Furthermore, you should limit personal distractions such as phone calls to protect your own safety and that of the people around you. Stay alert at all times and watch your step around the site because you never know what hazards can put you in danger.
Avoid touching anything you haven’t been authorised to
It’s mostly common sense, as are most of these points, but don’t touch anything that you haven’t been invited to touch. Materials and tools can be dangerous to someone not familiar with how they work, so leave the professionals to do their jobs and just observe. You should be accompanied by your contact throughout the visit, but if you aren’t for a moment, resist any temptation to touch things.
Pay attention to safety and hazard signage
Safety signage is displayed all over work sites, and for good reason. It draws attention to dangers and instructs workers and visitors to take certain steps to protect their health and wellbeing. Common examples include signs instructing that hard hats or PPE must be worn in a certain area, no unauthorised access or electrical hazard signs. You should keep an eye out for emergency exit signage and other types of warning in case of emergency or evacuation.
These are the fundamentals of site safety and etiquette that you should keep in mind on your next visit, although different sites will have different requirements. They are all important guidelines to protect the safety of everyone on-site, including yourself, so take heed.