According to OSHA, there were almost 1000 construction deaths in 2016. While the construction workforce is only 6% of the population, over 20% of total private sector employee deaths were in construction.
The tragedy is that, with the right training and equipment, over 60% of these deaths were preventable. The following are the key causes of construction industry deaths and the steps that can be taken to prevent them by applying the right equipment and training.
Hazard # 1: Falls
Each year falls consistently account for more than one-third of construction industry deaths. Often these falls are due to unstable working surfaces, misuse or failure to use fall protection equipment, and unsafe use of scaffolding and ladders.
To protect your employees, make sure that your ladders and scaffolds meet safety standards and are properly sized for the project requirements. Also ensure that work surfaces are stable, free from holes, and provide proper traction.
Another tip for fall prevention is to apply the six-foot rule. If employees are working more than six feet above another surface, they need to have fall-prevention equipment such as guardrails, fall arrest systems, safety nets, covers, and restraint systems.
Regardless of height, it’s always a good idea to ensure that your employees have the right personal protective equipment (PPE) such as hard hats, non-skid work boots, and tool lanyards.
Of course, the right equipment is only as effective as the training provided. Ensuring that your employees are trained to use their equipment and avoid unsafe practices will reduce the risk of accidents and keep your employees safe.
Hazard # 2: Struck by Objects
The next big cause of death on construction sites is “struck by objects,” which accounts for almost 10% of construction site fatalities.
Vehicle hazards are a big part of this statistic. Make sure that your site safety rules include clear vehicle routes and that employees know how to avoid positioning themselves between moving and fixed objects.
Misuse of heavy equipment such as cranes and forklifts also contributes to these types of injuries. Make sure that your employees are properly trained on the safe use of this equipment and you’ll avoid injuries to both their drivers and their team members.
Hazard #3: Electrical Hazards
The dangers of electricity have been known for centuries, and yet electrical safety issues still account for over 8% of construction site deaths. Before starting any work, locate and identify utilities. If your employees are using equipment, make sure they’ve located overhead power lines and are familiar with the minimum safe distance requirements.
Providing your employees with portable tools that are grounded or double insulated and using ground-fault circuit interrupters (GFCIs) wherever possible can also prevent avoidable accidents. As previously mentioned, scaffolds, ladders, and platforms pose special safety risks, so make sure your employees are trained to avoid related electrical hazards.
Hazard #4: Caught-In-Between
Caught-in-between deaths represent 7% of construction fatalities, with many of these deaths occurring due to the collapse of construction site trenches. A key safety tip is to ensure that trenches which are five feet or deeper have adequate safety measures and trench wall support.
You can also protect your employees by marking all utilities before digging, providing a qualified person to inspect the trench’s safety, and training employees on how to protect themselves.
Hazard #5: Hazardous Materials
Construction sites are often filled with hazardous materials that can range from toxic airborne materials which affect respiration to chemical spills which can burn or release toxic fumes.
To prevent exposure, your employees should be provided with material safety data sheets (MSDS) for any hazardous chemical being used at the construction site and should be provided with the proper PPE including respiratory protection. You should also make sure that your employees are trained regarding the proper handling of hazardous materials.
Protecting your employees requires knowing the potential risks and providing the training and equipment to ensure that they make it safely home from the job site. Knowing these five hazards can serve as a starting point as you develop a strategy to improve the safety on your construction site.
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Arbill is a safety solutions company. We are all about protecting your workers in the workplace. Our mission is to keep workers safe and return them home safely at the end of the day. Visit arbill.com for more information about being safe… and subscribe to the Arbill Safety Blog so that you never miss out on great safety tips and information.
Have a safe day!