With warmer weather finally taking hold, construction activity is about to become busier in Manitoba. While we usually equate construction season in Manitoba with road construction, construction season is also the busiest time for residential construction as well.
Residential construction season doesn’t just involve new homes being constructed in new communities. It also includes infill construction, landscaping projects, driveway repairs, and other home renovation projects. That means that residential construction, and some of the common hazards that can come with it, can be present in any neighbourhood. With more people having to spend time at home due to the COVID-19 situation and people understandably feeling the urge to be more active outside, now is a great time to remind people of all ages to keep an eye out for some potential hazards that can pop up during short term construction projects.
Vehicles, equipment and materials used on construction sites can pose a hazard to workers, drivers and pedestrians on residential roadways while construction is taking place. These hazards can include backing onto roadways with equipment, machines that are parked on the road, and trailers that are parked on the road. If equipment will be working on the road, a safety buffer area will usually be marked off to alert drivers, pedestrians and workers that equipment will be in the area. Equipment should be equipped with back up alarms to alert those in the area that the vehicle is backing on to the street. Please be alert for these situations while driving, biking or walking in residential neighbourhoods.
It is also common that building material like gravel or rock may need to be temporarily deposited on the roadway for a short period of time during construction. If you have children, please remind them that piles of gravel or stone on streets or driveways are potentially dangerous and should not be played on. Equipment is usually nearby to move these materials and there is a potential for the pile to shift. The best way to avoid any mishap is to ensure children do not go near piles of sand, gravel or stone. Construction fences are also sometimes attractive for curious children. Please remind kids that the fences should not be touched and that everyone should keep a safe distance away from active construction sites. Taking the time to remind your family about being aware of potential hazards and taking some small and simple steps to avoid them go a long way in avoiding a catastrophe.
Excited customers eager to check on the status of their new home being built may feel that there’s no harm in visiting the construction site and seeing how construction is progressing. It is important to stress that these are active construction sites and home owners visiting their new home under construction without an appointment with their builder can potentially put the activities on the worksite at risk and can impede their possession date.
All visits to construction sites should be done by appointment only and with the full awareness of both the builder and their site supervisor, especially given the current circumstances regarding COVID-19. This is to protect both the workers onsite as well as the customers themselves, who are entering an active construction site and not likely to have the proper protective equipment on that is required to be worn by everyone on an active site. This could potentially stop work from taking place on the home and potentially delay possession. The Manitoba Home Builders’ Association’s best advice is to contact your builder if you’d like to visit your home under construction.
The health and safety of everyone who works in the residential construction industry, the customers they serve, and those in the communities they help build are always a top priority of the MHBA and its member companies across the province.
Lanny McInnes is president of the Manitoba Home Builders’ Association.