Why Construction Sites Have More Dangers
Despite construction companies taking increased measures to prevent workplace injuries and fatalities, there is still a chance that a standard method or tool being used could result in a hazardous incident. In addition to a general lack of proper planning to prevent these incidences, here are the top 10 safety hazards that are most common on construction sites.
1. Improper Scaffolding Use
Scaffoldings can pose a risk to construction workers if it is not assembled or used correctly. Two million construction workers routinely use scaffolds on the job. Since scaffolds are hoisted to great heights, one that is faulty can pose a fatal fall. Whether a collapse or a fall, scaffolding accidents are far too common on construction sites. As a precaution, construction workers should wear a body harness for protection. Workers are also required to be properly trained on scaffolding use per the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) guidelines.
2. Lack of Fall Protection
Similar to the scaffolding issue, an inadequate amount of fall protection measures around scaffolds or other elevated surfaces can result in more significant injuries and fatalities due to falls. The following are some protective measures to take:
- Ensure structural integrity of surfaces.
- Wear personal protective equipment like hard hats.
- Implement guardrails and safety nets.
3. Inadequate Equipment on Excavation Sites
Excavation of any kind can potentially be fatal due to improper use of machinery, falling loads, or a lack of personal protective equipment. OSHA also recommends that your team know where all underground pipes and electrical lines are placed before beginning work to eliminate this potential hazard. Other safety measures you can take are as follows:
- Have an alert system when machinery is being operated nearby.
- Prohibit employees from standing under or adjacent to lifted loads.
- Ensure that the operator of any machinery has a clear view of the excavation site at all times.
4. Faulty Ladders
OSHA estimates that nearly 36 fatalities in construction sites per year are due to ladder and stairway accidents. If the ladder isn't properly secured, free of structural damage, faulty, or has slippery substances on the rungs that could result in a slip or fall, then the hazard increases. Supervisors should take caution when inspecting ladders before employee use and provide necessary fall or personal protection equipment to prevent a ladder accident.
5. Lack of Head Protection
Failure to wear necessary head protection when working on a construction site can result in an increased number of traumatic brain injuries (TBI) or even death due to head contact with fixed/falling objects or electrical hazards. Necessary head protection may include hard hats in good condition without dents or cracks, which are also replaced in the instance of any impact or electrical shock.
6. Improperly Maintained Stairways
If you are working on a construction job with a stairway, always make sure that there are handrails and the steps are free from any debris or liquid that may cause slips and falls. About 25,000 injuries from slips and falls on stairways and ladders occur each year due to improper safety measures. To ensure better employee protection, temporary construction on stairways should be assembled at a 30-degree angle and include treads made of wood or other non-slick material covering the entire step.
7. Poorly Constructed Trenches
Despite being one of the most common tasks on a construction site, unprotected or poorly constructed trenches account for dozens of injuries and fatalities each year. Unsafe trench conditions you want to avoid are:
- Lack of sloping.
- Unsecured walls.
- Lack of shielding or trench boxes.
Likewise, making sure significant barriers are surrounding the trench may be necessary to safeguard against other hazards involving machinery or workers falling into them. Since collapses are a common hazard in trenches, workers should take extra safety precautions on site.
8. Improper Crane Use
Serious and often fatal injuries can occur from the improper use of cranes. In fact, over the course of six years from 2011-2017, 297 crane-related deaths happened in the United States alone. Whether it's a fallen load or getting hit by the swing radius, a lack of proper inspection and operation of these machines can be fatal. Similarly, other fatal incidences can occur when a crane comes in contact with an overhead electrical line. Operators should always be aware of their surroundings and drive at safe speeds to avoid a crane accident.
9.Forklift Operation Without Proper Training
Nearly 95,000 employees are injured on the job while operating heavy machineries such as forklifts and other powered industrial trucks. This also results in almost 100 fatalities each year from driving forklifts. It is imperative that employees with the proper certifications perform safety checks on the machinery before operating. OSHA also has an extensive list of recommendations and safety measures to take for all employees when a forklift is on-site, which is available through their government website and should be reviewed before each use.
10. Failure to Communicate Hazards
Failure to recognize and communicate hazards involving chemicals or unsafe conditions can result in numerous injuries and fatalities from burns, TBIs, or even explosions. Proper communication regarding safety hazards when entering a job site is crucial to protecting employees' health and safety. Similarly, ensuring that all workers at the job site are aware of the appropriate means of communicating these hazards to coworkers or supervisors should be enforced.
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