According to OSHA, the leading causes of worker deaths on construction sites were falls, electrocution, struck-by-object and caught-in/between. These “Fatal Four” were responsible for more than 58% of the construction deaths in 2014.
Construction sites can be dangerous, but there are ways you can ensure workplace safety and reduce workplace accidents. Let’s take a look at each of the “Fatal Four” and see how you can take steps today to prevent these tragedies.
The leading cause of construction workplace deaths in 2014 was from falls and each year more than 100,000 injuries and deaths are attributable to work-related falls. Falls are a leading cause of fatalities and serious injuries, in construction as proper fall protection is not always equipped at sites. Employers must protect their workers and take the following steps to ensure their safety.
- Provide a guard rail and toe-board around every elevated open sided platform, floor, and runway, as well as around dangerous machines and equipment.
- Include safety harness and line, safety nets, stair railings and hand rail if required on the job site.
- Select and provide required personal protective equipment to workers and train workers about job hazards in a language that they can understand.
The second leading cause of construction workplace deaths in 2014 was electrocution. In fact, electrical hazards cause more than 300 deaths and 4,000 injuries in the workplace each year. Electricity is a serious workplace hazard, and sadly many of these injuries and fatalities could be easily avoided by taking the following precautions.
- Provide safety training and the proper personal protective equipment(PPE) for your employees.
- Reinforce the importance of always wearing PPE even if employees think it slows them down, or they are experienced so are not at risk.
- For Arc Flash protection in particular use PPE that has an arc rating equal to or greater than the calculated incident energy.
The third leading cause was struck-by-object which includes objects that are falling (suspended load coming loose), flying (thrown tools or debris), swinging (load swaying) or rolling (vehicle or heavy equipment in motion). In these scenarios, workers are often caught off guard and do not have enough time to react and move out of the way. To help ensure worker safety you can practice these prevention tactics.
- Wear safety glasses, goggles or a face shield when using power tools and ensure protective guards are in good condition.
- Secure tools and materials using toe boards, screens, and debris nets.
- Avoid areas where work is being performed above and always wear a hard hat at all times while on the construction site.
- Never position yourself under a suspended load, always verify that the heavy equipment operator sees you, and steer clear of vehicles and heavy equipment in use.
The fourth leading cause of construction workplace deaths in 2014 was caught-in-between. These are accidents where a worker’s body part is caught, crushed or squeezed between two or more objects and happen as a result of collapsing materials; body parts pulled into unguarded machinery and equipment rollovers. So how can you prevent these caught-in-between accidents?
- Be familiar with equipment to know where the pinch, sheer, wrap and crush points are located, as well as pull-in areas.
- Shut down equipment before doing repairs or inspections and chock the wheels on equipment that could move or roll.
- Keep your focus on what you are doing and watch for people carrying objects that block their view.
- Encourage employees to wear close-fitting clothing, leave their jewelry off while at work, and pull back long hair into a bun to prevent being caught in moving machinery.
The risks and hazards outlined are an unfortunate reality on construction sites today. A key first step is to develop a culture of safety and implement safety training programs that educate your workers. It can also be helpful to have an Arbill training specialist tour your facility or construction site to help uncover potential hazards and create a plan to increase the safety of your workplace.
OSHA estimates that eliminating the “Fatal Four” would save 508 worker’s lives in America every year. Start taking the necessary steps today to keep your workers safe by giving us a call at 1-800-523-5367 or by scheduling a consultation with an Arbill Safety Expert today.
Have a Safe Day!