The construction industry is one of the most dangerous sectors for American workers. According to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), there were 1,008 construction-related deaths in 2018. Furthermore, one in every five worker fatalities in America is related to construction.
“Sadly, most of the construction-related deaths were preventable if proper safety measures had been in place,” says injury lawyer Sean Roberts of Roberts Marklands, LLP. Construction companies owe it to their employees to keep them safe from avoidable hazards. They can accomplish this by ensuring that their workers understand what construction safety entails, common construction hazards, and how to prevent them.
Safety Facts Every Construction Worker Should Know
For construction companies to better protect their employees from hazards, they need to ensure their workers know some safety facts related to the sector. Some of these safety facts include:
#1. Unreported Work Accidents Harm Employees
According to reports, over one-quarter of construction workers have been injured on the job but have not reported it. Many workers choose not to disclose the accidents because they do not want to complain. They often feel the need to complete the task at hand rather than stop to report an accident, which they believe will only slow down progress.
Unfortunately, some of the injuries sustained leave them with significant financial difficulties in the future, even if the injuries appear minor when the accident happens. Thus, workers should always report workplace accidents to avoid situations like this.
Furthermore, workers should always report workplace accidents because job hazards need recognition to prevent causing further harm to others. Also, workers should disclose workplace accidents because their safety and well-being depend on receiving proper medical treatment for their injuries. Furthermore, by reporting accidents, workers can establish the basis for a legal claim in the future.
#2. Heights Pose a Significant Risk
Falls from heights are the leading cause of death among construction workers and are responsible for one-third of all construction-related fatalities. It is typical for most construction workers to work at high elevations on scaffolding. Workers not paying attention to their surroundings are more likely to fall from these heights.
Workers can also fall from heights when there is an incorrect scaffolding installation. Thus, they are at risk of injuring themselves or even dying. However, the following safety protocols can help prevent falls:
- Workers should speak up if required to work from a height and are unsure that proper safety protocols are in place.
- Employees should receive training on how to use safety harnesses correctly.
- Construction sites have reliable and well-constructed scaffolding.
- Employees receive extensive training in working on roofs, ladders, scaffolds, and other high areas.
#3. Safety Is Beneficial
Safety always saves companies money. Construction companies, like any other companies, are not in the business of losing money. As a result, ensuring worker safety will go a long way toward increasing business profits.
According to OSHA, safety increases the profitability of any company. The Statistics from OSHA show that companies save between four and six dollars for every dollar spent on safety training.
Other Major Construction Hazards Workers Should Know and How to Prevent Them
Aside from falls from heights, three other Construction hazards can cause injuries and even death. However, knowing these hazards and how to prevent them will go a long way in improving safety among construction workers:
#1. Struck by Objects
Struck by objects is the second leading cause of death in the construction industry. The hazard accounted for 11.1 percent of construction industry fatalities in 2018.
It is common for materials and equipment to fill the construction work sites that, if dropped on a worker, could be hazardous. Workers may be injured or killed if falling beams, materials, or tools hit them.
Construction Safety Protocols to Protect Workers From Falling Objects
One of the safety protocols a company can implement to protect workers from falling objects is ensuring people on the job site always wear hard hats. Workers who operate machinery should also be aware of the importance of never exceeding the maximum load capacity of their machines.
Overloading the equipment can cause it to break and drop the material transported on workers. Construction companies can also install safety net systems around areas where objects are likely to fall. Putting in place a monitoring safety system can also help.
With this system, safety monitors can review the work site, identify fall hazards, and report their findings to workers. Construction companies should also ensure their workers wear high-visibility clothing to reduce the chances of objects and debris being thrown at them.
Electrocution is another construction site hazard, accounting for about 8.5 percent of all construction worker deaths yearly. Common sources of electrical risk include cables that run underground or overhead and assigning electrical tasks to untrained personnel.
Safety protocols to Protect Construction Workers from Electrocutions
Electrocution-related injuries and deaths usually happen when a worker comes into contact with live parts or accidentally touches a conducting material or object. Thus, it makes most construction companies mark the areas of unfinished electrical systems, power lines, and exposed wiring.
However, there are additional steps they can take to ensure the safety of their employees. One is to ensure their workers are always double insulated or grounded when operating portable electric tools.
Furthermore, it is vital to prioritize finding all live conductors and making them visible to everyone on the site. Companies should also ensure that employees expected to perform electrical tasks receive extensive training to understand proper safety practices.
#3. Caught-in or Between
Caught-in or between incidents ranks number 4 as the leading cause of death. In 2018, 5.5 percent of construction workers died due to being compressed or caught in objects or machinery. However, Some of these events were preventable.
Construction Safety Protocols to Protect Workers from Caught-in or Between
Many construction companies have adopted a policy to prevent caught-in or between deaths. The policy prohibits workers from entering an unprotected excavation or trench 5 feet or deeper without first installing safety equipment and a protective system. Construction workers can also be protected when working in trenches using benching, shoring, trench shield systems, or sloping.
Furthermore, construction companies can reduce the likelihood of being caught in or between death by putting guards on every piece of equipment on the job site. Construction companies can also train their employees to be more aware of their surroundings and mindful as they carry on with their daily tasks.
Although employers are responsible for keeping their employees safe, all construction workers must work together to prevent injuries and make construction sites safe. Any construction worker who sees someone breaking safety protocols should always speak up for the safety of everyone.
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