When you think about industries that are at a high risk for employee injuries or illnesses, the construction industry may be one of the first that comes to mind. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, approximately 200,000 construction workers sustained workplace injuries in 2018 and of those almost 74,000 resulted in lost time from work. From the numerous site and equipment hazards to the sheer physicality of the job, there is certainly risk involved in construction work.
Wearing the right safety protection is a common step in attempting to prevent injuries, but there are additional things that workers and companies can do to improve safety. Employers and contractors can encourage job safety by holding mandatory safety meetings for all site workers and making safety rules a priority.
The most common hazard on a construction site is an increased risk for falls, either by people or objects. From ladders to roofs or even cranes working at heights increases an employee’s chances of falling or being struck by a falling object. These situations can lead to injuries such as deep tissue bruising, bone fractures, as well as spine and head injuries.
Other construction-site hazards can include:
- Chemical explosions
- Backover accidents
- Building or trench collapses
- Heavy equipment malfunctions
- Extreme temperatures
- Exposure to lead, asbestos and other harmful products
These workplace hazards can lead to everything from lacerations, strains, and minor fractures to more severe situations like hearing loss, paralysis, traumatic brain injuries or even loss of life.
Employers and contractors can encourage job site safety by making appropriate protective equipment mandatory in the workplace, performing regular safety inspections and immediately correcting any safety issue or defect. If workers are going to be performing tasks above ground level OSHA suggests that some of the solutions to protect workers from falls include using guardrails with toeboards, wearing body harnesses, erecting aerial lifts and marking and covering holes in the floor. Preventing ladder or stairway falls may also require visually inspecting them for defects, obeying load ratings, removing debris and treading the steps and landing to prevent slipping.
If employees will be working below ground, in a trench or hole, employers and contractors can decrease risk of injury by ensuring that someone monitors the site while the employees are working as well as providing well marked, easy-to-access exits and putting all possible protective systems in place.