Avoid Common Construction Site Accidents

Construction sites can be dangerous work environments, even with safety measures in place. In 2014, OSHA reported there were 874 deaths in the private sector of the construction industry. Nearly all of these deaths and injuries fall under the “Fatal Four” — falls, electrocution, struck-by objects and caught-in or between hazards.

OSHA estimates the elimination of the Fatal Four would save 508 lives each year. While construction companies have safeguards in place, it seemingly is not enough. OSHA cites businesses for safety violations in these areas more frequently than any other citations.

You can avoid accidents on your construction sites, as well as related OSHA violations and litigation, by ensuring you identify potential problems and take steps, like the ones listed below, to prevent them.

Falls on Construction Sites

Fatalities from falls make up almost 40% of yearly deaths on the job site. Whether it’s off overhead platforms, elevated work stations or through holes in floorboards, falls are a major cause of injuries. Thankfully, they’re also some of the easiest ones to prevent.

Implementing proper precautions and safety measures is much less expensive than a lawsuit or other compensation due to a fall. There are some simple ways to go about doing this.

According to OSHA, you should take the following steps to prevent falls:

  • Cover or guard any floor hole that a worker could potentially fall into by using railings, toe boards or floor hole covers.
  • Supply any open sided platform, floor or runway with a guard rail and a toe-board around the perimeters.
  • Provide guard rails and toe-boards if workers can fall into or onto dangerous machinery or equipment, regardless of height.
  • Have safety harnesses, safety nets, stair railings and hand railings whenever possible. And make sure the equipment is in good working condition.

Electrocution on Construction Sites

Electrocution, which caused 8.9% of private sector construction worker deaths in 2014, is another major fear associated with construction sites. Types of electrocution hazards include: contact with an overhead powerline, contact with an energized source (i.e. live parts, damaged or bare wires, defective equipment or tools) and improper use of extension and flexion cables.

OSHA recommends following these guidelines to eliminate electrocution hazards:

  • Ensure employees maintain safe distances from overhead powerlines.
  • Have power companies de-energize and ground lines and install insulated sleeves (eels) over the lines.
  • Provide ground-fault circuit interrupters and then train employees on how to use them.
  • Isolate electrical parts like circuits, conductors, etc., by effectively closing them and covering with faceplates, fixtures or canopies.
  • Inspect tools and extension cords to make sure they are in good working condition. Discard any faulty cords or tools.
  • Confirm tools are being used as they were designed.
  • Enforce and train employees on lockout/tagout procedures.

Struck-by Object Accidents on Construction Sites

A struck-by object accident occurs when a worker gets hit by something. This could be a falling object, flying item, something swinging or slipping or even an object at ground level.

A few tips for employers to eliminate struck-by hazards include:

  • Strictly enforce the use of safety gear. Workers should always wear hardhats, along with the use of protective face masks when flying items are possible.
  • Inspect rigging before use to make sure any suspended materials are secure. Train employees to maintain safe distances when materials get moved>
  • Keep materials properly stored, especially on elevated work stations.
  • Ensure barriers are in place to reroute traffic when you have exposed workers.
  • Train workers on how to respect heavy machinery and construction vehicles.

Caught In or Between Hazards on Construction Sites

Spatial awareness is critical on construction sites. And even momentary distractions can result in situations where employees are caught in or between objects. The results, such as loss of limbs or life, are devastating. These injuries are usually caused by machinery that has unguarded/uncovered parts, getting buried in/by materials or pinned between objects. And thankfully, they’re also often easy to prevent.

To combat these types of accident on a construction job, employers should:

  • Administer training for employees to keep them vigilant on the work site. Show them what dangers to watch for so easily avoidable accidents don’t occur.
  • Equip all power tools and equipment that have moving parts with guards.
  • Provide means for workers to avoid collapsing scaffolding structures and other platforms.
  • Ensure protection for workers during excavation or trenching work.
  • Train machine operators and non-operators on how to respect heavy machinery and construction vehicles by maintaining safe distances.

Ask CLC for Help with Construction Site Safety

Keeping employees safe is one of the most important responsibilities you have on a construction site. Proper training is the first step. CLC can help you. Learn more about safety training available to you to make your job site safer today!

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