It’s not a walk in the part to working in the construction industry. It involves major risks as the industry involves the use of several machines and tools that can lead to serious issues.
In fact, a large number of injuries and even deaths are reported in the construction industry every year. However, we cannot neglect the industry due to its size. – about 6% of the American workforce are construction workers.
There are many reasons why workplace accidents take place. Some workers overlook the set safety guidelines which are imposed by the management such as wearing safety equipment when working in a danger zone, double checking the harness when working at height, etc. Neglecting these basic guidelines is one of the reasons why workers end up being injured or worse.
However, it is not always the workers’ fault. The management can also be at fault.
According to OSHA, four of the most common hazards in a construction business are:
- Falls (38.7% casualties)
- Getting hit by an object (9.4% casualties)
- Getting stuck in between (7% casualties)
- Electrocutions (8.3% casualties).
With proper safety guidelines and care, these hazards can be prevented.
A good construction business is one that identifies the hazards associated with the construction business and imposes strict safety policies to prevent these accidents from occurring.
The first step lies in identifying the hazards. You should understand that someone as small as a slippery floor can be as dangerous as a crane when it comes to the risk factor.
Think of a big machine. It has several small components such as planetary gears (read this to know how they work) and screws. Even a single component failure can lead to accidents and dire consequences. This is why it is important to be very careful.
Let’s now have a look at the four main hazards of working in the construction industry:
1. Falling From Height
Construction business requires workers to work at heights and not having any form of support can turn out to be problematic because falling from heights while working on a site is the number one cause of deaths at construction sites.
How To Prevent Falling From A Height: A harness is a basic safety accessory that all workers must wear when working at heights. A harness serves as lifesaving equipment. It ensures you’re safe even if you slip or an accident takes place.
Scaffolding is another piece of equipment that serves as a temporary structure to elevate workers from the ground. These are mostly used to construct the upper part of a structure or to clean them. However, things can go wrong if the scaffoldings don’t have a boundary or if they are made up of poor material.
The absence of a boundary can cause a worker to trip and fall, while a poorly made scaffolding can collapse and injure someone. Therefore, the management should ensure that scaffoldings in use are made up of strong material and have no gaps or cracks anywhere.
Moreover, use a proper guardrail system or safety nets on the boundaries for protection around the edges.
Exposed, broken and damaged wires on a construction site are common and can be very deadly. Anything between 100 – 200 mA is considered lethal for a human as it can stop the heartbeat or give a severe shock.
Contact with an exposed wire can not only electrocute a person but if the jolt is strong, it can send a person flying and pushing them from a height.
Similarly, damaged circuits can cause explosions and fire as well.
How To Prevent Electrocution: Identify where the electric lines are. Once you do, use protective insulation kits to ensure the wires are safe.
If any wire is damaged, make sure to replace or repair it. In addition to this, the ground has to be secured as well. For this purpose, GFCI (ground fault circuit interrupters) come in handy.
Examine power cords and wire accurately. If they are damaged, replace them but make sure to wear safety equipment while doing so.
Wear flame resistant clothes (fiber-made). The gloves should be made up of either rubber or leather. If possible, wear protectors as well.
Activities such as welding, dusting and sawing can damage the eyes which is why wearing protective eyewear is a must.
When dealing with wires, tools, batteries, etc., make sure to keep them away from coming into contact with water. When using electric tools such as drills, turn them off immediately after use.
The tools must be insulated so that they do not catch the current. Avoid using tools that are too old, wet or damaged.
3. Caught-In-Between Hazards
More than 5% of fatalities in the construction business happen when workers get stuck between objects, places, machines, etc.
The most common place to be stuck at is a deep trench. A trench that’s 10 to 18 feet deep can severely injure a person or even kill them.
Being stuck in a piece of machinery is also a possibility and can lead to severe consequences. Workers must take caution when working around forklifts, dumpers, saws and similar machines.
Moreover, rollover equipment is also dangerous and one must be careful when using such tools.
How To Prevent From Being Caught In Between: Use caution; make sure you’re not working alone and there are people nearby who can pull you out in case you get stuck.
Use protective equipment when working with machines and do not work on machines you are not aware of.
4. Stuck By Objects
Workers can get hit by falling or moving objects on the site and suffer an injury.
People working on the ground or underground might get hit by stones, debris or objects that fall accidentally from the top.
How To Prevent Getting Stuck By Objects: Workers need to wear hard head equipment such as helmets to keep their heads secure. Moreover, a debris net can also be used for added protection.
These are some of the most common hazards one faces at a workplace. With proper care, the risk factor can be greatly reduced.