Construction Safety Rules

Flatlay of construction safety materials and equipment, including a hard hat, sign labels, safety tags, and more, on a concrete surface

Are the top 10 construction safety rules a no-brainer, or will some of them surprise you? Whether you've been at it for decades or are new to the profession, knowing and following them is essential. Not only do these rules keep everyone that crosses your site safe, but they also save you money. In truth, ignoring safety rules can often lead to expensive OSHA violations. Here is a simple list of the top 10 most important construction safety rules, which we will cover in more depth below.

  1. Wear required PPE
  2. Set up safeguards
  3. Use safety signs
  4. Provide clear instructions
  5. Be prepared for emergencies
  6. Keep your site tidy
  7. Use the right tool for the job
  8. Inspect tools and equipment
  9. Put away and organize tools
  10. Report safety concerns

What is construction safety management?

Construction safety management is a system of procedures that take a proactive approach to identifying and managing hazards on a jobsite. It is a systematic way of preventing accidents by identifying potential hazards, assessing the risks associated with them, and implementing controls to reduce or eliminate those risks. Using a construction safety management system can help you protect workers, keep a job site running smoothly, and save money by avoiding costly safety violations.

Two sheets of Avery hard hat stickers are shown on a table surrounded by construction PPE, including hard hats, gloves, and safety ear muffs. The labels shown are Avery 61536, which are round hard hat stickers, and Avery 61537, which are rectangle hard hat stickers.
ID safety officers and label your PPE with our vinyl hard stickers that resist UV fading for up to 2 years outdoors.

1) Wear required PPE at all times

"Helping our team understand why and when to use PPE has helped us reduce incidents on the job site."

—Luis Sanchez, employee at Cherry Coatings, a commercial coating company

Using personal protective equipment (PPE) is a very important construction safety rule. This is because it can help protect workers from a wide variety of hazards. For construction, specifically, PPE is used to protect workers from everything from exposure to chemicals or particles in the air to physical hazards like falls and flying objects.

As a matter of fact, Matt Hagens, a general contractor and the founder of Mr. Kitchen Faucets, recounts a time when safety goggles protected his eyes from a tiny piece of flying debris. He says, "That experience taught me that accidents could happen in a split second, but PPE gives us that crucial shield against potential injuries."

How to ID PPE for construction safety

Because wearing PPE is one of the most important construction safety rules you can follow, keeping track of it is paramount. This is true whether you're an employee keeping track of your own items or a safety officer in charge of tracking company-owned PPE. Hard hat stickers, durable labels, and durable asset tags are the products you need for labeling PPE. This is because a simple paper label will not survive a construction site long enough to truly be useful, and it can even pose a safety issue if items can't be quickly or accurately identified.

Indeed, we wrote a whole article about using PPE asset tags to track company-owned PPE that digs into the benefits of tracking these items. In brief, the benefits include keeping track of expensive PPE, helping safety officers meet compliance standards, and ensuring that the life span of PPE is accurately tracked. In our experience, the best labels for this job are Avery PermaTrack® asset tag labels 61520 because they're waterproof as well as chemical and abrasion-resistant. What's more, you can customize them online for free with barcodes (as demonstrated in this tutorial video) and print them right onsite from a standard laser printer.

In contrast, durable labels and vinyl hard hat stickers are the best way to ID employee-owned PPE. This article covers hard hat sticker meanings and materials in depth, but basically our vinyl hard hat stickers are waterproof, resistant to chemicals and abrasion and also resist UV fading for up to 2 years. Additionally, Avery durable ID labels come in a variety of film materials that are strong enough for labeling construction PPE. PermaTrack asset tags as well as Avery hard hat stickers and durable ID labels can all be customized for free using Avery Design and Print Online (ADPO) online software.

2) Set up safeguards to keep people away from hazards

"People will blindly walk just about anywhere without any knowledge of their immediate surroundings; signs and barriers only lower the odds of injury."

—Tom Wilkerson, CEO of, a forklift certification program

As illustrated by Wilkerson, physical barriers between hazards and people, whether they're workers, visitors, or just nearby, are needed as safeguards against injury. Setting up safeguards such as guardrails, fall protection systems, hole covers, and fencing is vital in order to keep people away from hazards on a construction site.

Terry Dussault, CEO of Yellowknife Consulting Services, a safety consulting company, further illustrates the importance of this particular construction safety rule. Dussault recounts, "At a retail gas station site, I once witnessed a high-pressure air hose come loose from the towable compressor and strike a woman in the leg, causing her to immediately drop to the ground. The woman was standing at the bus stop. The air compressor was parked too close, and there were no physical barriers to protect the public."

Two images side by side. One is a top-down view of Avery 61552 vinyl signs printed with various messages supporting construction safety rules. The other is a photo of Avery 81552 in real life applied to a door on a construction site. The sign has a danger header and reads,
Create construction safety signs in minutes, right from your desktop, with durable self-adhesive vinyl signs that are designed to be used outdoors.

3) Use safety signs to guide workers and visitors

Certainly, using safety signs is one of the easiest construction rules to follow. Especially considering the availability of resources for making signs quickly onsite. Moreover, the payoff is that they help prevent accidents, injuries, and liability claims. Mike Grijavalva, a journeyman plumber and business owner with over 20 years of experience, agrees. Grijavalva says, "We've all heard stories about workers and pedestrians falling into poorly marked openings; proper signage reduces that risk significantly."

In any case, safety signs for construction sites are very easy to make with four simple tools. 1) A laptop or tablet that's connected to the internet and a printer; 2) A laser or inkjet printer; 3) Printable Avery Industrial safety signs; and 4) Our free ADPO software.

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2) Locate your Avery product number

Generally, you can find your Avery product number on the package or the product page on the Avery Industrial website. However, if you can't find it, this article can help you find your Avery product using the UPC code. Additionally, you can call our excellent Customer Care team at 1(800) 832-8379 or chat with them online.

3) Go to ADPO and choose a design

Start by going to the ADPO homepage and clicking the "Start Designing" button. Once you've signed into your free Avery account, you can enter the Avery product number to choose the layout of your sign (portrait or landscape). Then, after you make a choice, you will see a blank template (for designing from scratch) and many predesigned templates you can customize.

Watch a quick demo of how to open ADPO and start designing.

4) Edit your design and save

When you select a template to work with, you will see the ADPO editing screen. In addition to all the standard design tools you would expect (text, images, etc.), you will also find more sophisticated tools. For example, there is our free barcode generator (which you can learn more about here), a sequential numbering tool, mail merge, and more.

5) Print your signs

Finally, print your own construction safety signs onsite using a standard laser or inkjet printer. Just make sure that the printer matches the product you want to use. For example, only use a laser-printable label with a laser printer, and so on. If you don't pay attention to the label and printer type, your labels can be damaged, and the ink will never set or "dry." For a deeper dive into why the kind of printer you use really matters, check out this article.

Of course, printing onsite is certainly the fastest way to create safety signs for your construction site. However, you can also order custom-printed signs. In fact, when we custom-print your designs for you, they ship in as few as three business days. And while you can order as few as two safety signs, our custom printing service makes it easy to scale up quantities as needed.

4) Provide clear instructions and training

"If I haven't given clear instructions and training to a team member and they make a mistake, it's not their fault; it's mine."

—Mike Grijavalva, owner of Sacramento Plumbing Solutions

First and foremost, employers have a duty to provide a safe work environment for employees. After all, the entire purpose of OSHA is to ensure that this is so. Training employees and providing clear instructions are perhaps the most important preventative measures employers can take. Moreover, even when an employee has had previous training somewhere else, you can't assume that the training will be sufficient for your work site.

Luckily, there are several basic ways to follow this construction safety rule. Firstly, make sure all employees complete OSHA-mandated training; that is a given. Secondly, keep an induction binder accessible for general contractors or anyone new on your site. This can help new workers get familiar with site operations quickly. Lastly, conduct daily "toolbox talks" to relay health and safety instructions. Do these each day before starting work and gather the signatures of all workers present.

Daily "tool box talks" also provide an opportunity for workers to report possible issues. Additionally, general contractor Matt Hagens says, "I've found that well-informed workers are more confident and productive and contribute positively to a safety culture."

5) Be prepared for emergencies with an accessible plan

Sometimes taking an extra few minutes or even seconds to decide on emergency action can be the difference between life and death. That's why it's absolutely vital to have an emergency plan for what to do in the event of natural disasters, fires, hazardous material spills, and other incidents. Equally important is educating workers on what to do, even if you have a dedicated emergency response team.

"We have printed instructions in English and Spanish located at our job site’s base of operations, so everyone knows what to do in case of an emergency—not just Foremen or Field Managers."

—Luis Sanchez, Cherry Coatings employee

The instructions Sanchez describes are an excellent way to implement this construction safety rule. By printing instructions in both English and Spanish, the Cherry Coatings team is able to keep emergency plans readily accessible to all employees.

However, it's also a good idea to store such plans somewhere durable that won't easily fall apart. To that end, we prefer the Avery 79693, a black, heavy-duty binder that has a view front. This particular binder is great for emergency plans as well as site induction materials and printed construction safety rules. The black color hides dirt, the spine and edges have a special, reinforced molded edge, and the view front allows for a cover sheet for easy identification.

6) Keep your site tidy using lean skills

"It is a proven fact that proper housekeeping prevents worker injuries like slips, trips, and falls."

—Terry Dussault, CEO of Yellowknife Consulting Services

When you think of lean skills (or 5S), you might only think of warehouse efficiency, but 5S is much more. In fact, the name of these principles has morphed over time into 5S/6S, adding "Safety" as the sixth "S.". However, the original 5S principles (Sort, Set in Order, Shine, Standardize, and sustain) contribute to construction safety all on their own. This is because 5S principles significantly reduce clutter, keep pathways clean, and encourage regular inspection and maintenance of tools and equipment.

For example, forklift certification expert Wilkerson says, "It’s really easy for someone to trip and fall with all the materials usually found in these environments, like tools, nails, scrap pieces, and so on." But that's not all. Construction safety rules for keeping your site tidy also contribute to efficiency, and according to Wilkerson, "A clean worksite also exudes professionalism and helps build a good reputation."

7) Use the right tool for the job

Using the wrong tool can lead to injuries, both to the user and to others on the construction site. Meanwhile, using the right tool not only helps you avoid injuries but also achieve a more accurate result, work more efficiently, and produce a higher-quality product. So in the long run, using the right tool for the job saves you money upfront as well as helping you avoid hidden costs. For example, you can avoid lost productivity and efficiency caused by injuries as well as money lost due to a poor reputation.

While the money-saving benefits are certainly a plus, safety on the construction site must always be the priority. In fact, Hagens says, "I remember one incident where a worker tried to unscrew a high-torque bolt using a standard wrench. It slipped, causing a nasty hand injury. It was a sobering reminder that the right tools are essential for every job, no matter how big or small."

Two images side by side. One is of a ladder marked with Avery 62400 printable tag, which reads, “Danger, Unsafe Do Not Use,” in both English and Spanish (“Peligro, Inseguro no lo use”). The second image also includes Avery 62400 tags shown on a work desk and printed with various custom ladder inspection messages.
Use inspection tags to record inspections and make sure that damaged equipment is not used.

8) Inspect tools and equipment before use

"Make sure that all of the equipment is in good working order because damaged equipment often leads to injured workers."

—Tom Wilkerson, CEO of

Some equipment must be inspected before use by law; for instance, ladders, which we've discussed here. However, it's still considered best practice to always inspect all tools and equipment before using them. This is a basic yet important construction safety rule to follow in order to keep workers safe. Sanchez from Cherry Coatings explains that in his industry, "Spray rig or joint pump clogs, leaks, electrical malfunctions, and respirator damage are just some of the potential hazards that can cause incidents if gone unchecked."

How to create custom inspection tags onsite

There are two easy ways to create your own inspection tags using Avery products, ADPO, and our templates. The first way is to use printable plastic tags, and the second way is to use our extra durable "print & assemble" tag kits. For the most part, the steps for making your own inspection tags are the same as creating custom safety signs onsite. Start by entering your Avery product number in ADPO, choosing a template, customizing the design, and then finishing by saving your design and printing it.

From there, our regular printable plastic tags separate along perforated edges and are ready to attach. The hang hole on these tags resists 50 pounds of pull force. In contrast, the "print & assemble" tags include printable vinyl labels that you then apply to rigid plastic tags. Both types of tags are waterproof and resistant to tears, abrasion, and UV damage. Additionally, the tags from the kit resist 100 pounds of pull force.

9) Put away and organize tools

Putting away and organizing tools isn't just good housekeeping; it's an important construction safety rule because it helps prevent injuries. Perhaps most obviously, tools lying around create unnecessary trip and fall hazards. Not to mention the fact that equipment left plugged in and unsupervised can create an electric shock hazard or injure someone if it is accidentally turned on.

Furthermore, when tools are not organized, they can be easily knocked over or dropped, which can cause injuries. And when tools are not easy to find, it can lead to people using the wrong tool for the job, which can also lead to injuries.

Safety consultant Dussault explains further. He says, "Many tools have sharp edges or points, and accidental contact can result in bodily injuries like skin abrasions, punctures, or lacerations. Organization of tools also helps early identification of wear and tear issues that may go unnoticed."

10) Report safety concerns right away

"Hiding an issue is a surefire way for a minor issue to turn into a major emergency."

—Mike Hagens, founder of Mr. Kitchen Faucets

There are many ways to implement this construction safety rule. One way is to ask for any reports during your daily "toolbox talks" before work starts. Another great idea is a "safety mailbox" that is regularly checked and taken seriously. Indeed, Sanchez says creating a safety mailbox was a "simple but effective initiative" implemented at Cherry Coatings. He went on to say, "This made it so anyone could submit questions, concerns, or issues in an expedited and direct manner.

Whatever methods you use for reporting issues, your goal should be to make workers feel comfortable reporting safety concerns. Encourage, reward, be appreciative, and most importantly, never dismiss a good-faith report. Remember, the sooner something's reported, the sooner it can get fixed. This goes a long way toward lowering the chance of it getting worse or someone getting hurt.

Who is responsible for construction site safety?

Construction site safety is the responsibility of construction companies. They must follow OSHA standards and take steps to prevent accidents, such as requiring PPE and using safeguards. This helps to keep workers safe and saves money in the long run.

That being said, construction site safety is strengthened when everyone pitches in. General contractors, project managers, foremen, subcontractors, and all employees on a site keep each other safe by following basic construction safety rules.

How many construction safety rules do you know and follow?

In summary, we’ve covered the 10 most important construction safety rules, which are essential for keeping workers safe on the job site. Here is a brief rundown of those rules:

  1. Wear required PPE at all times.
  2. Set up safeguards to keep people away from hazards. 
  3. Use safety signs to guide workers and visitors. 
  4. Provide clear instructions. 
  5. Be prepared for emergencies.
  6. Keep your site tidy.
  7. Use the right tool for the job. 
  8. Inspect tools and equipment. 
  9. Put away and organize tools. 
  10. Report safety concerns. 

The importance of following these safety rules cannot be overstated because practicing construction site safety helps prevent accidents. And accident prevention benefits both employees and employers because there are significant costs to all when workers are injured on the job. To that end, we also covered helpful tips for creating PPE asset tags, durable ID labels, hard hat stickers, signs, and inspection tags onsite.

You can do all this and more using our online software and free templates that make it easy to share safety information on any job site. Why not get started now?

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Please note, the contents of this article and related articles on are for informational purposes only, are general in nature, and are not intended to and should not be relied upon or construed as a legal opinion or legal advice regarding any specific issue or factual circumstance.