Construction is a high hazard industry with a wide range of activities like new construction, renovations, and or alterations. BanvilleLaw.com also mentions that a state like New York has been an industrial capital since founding days, and sees a lot of construction activity. The accident fatality rate in this industry stands at more than double the average of all sectors. In short, construction sites can be safety nightmares: conceivable hazards exist almost everywhere in the working environment.
Fortunately, the hazards associated with the construction industry are well known, and most responsible employers know that they owe a duty of care to employees, visitors and members of the general public who might be affected by their activities. The employer is tasked with managing the construction site effectively and implementing appropriate accident control measures.
Six Common Construction Site Hazards
Following are various hazards that are present in the construction industry and the safety regulations attached to some of these hazards.
Every year falls account for the highest number of deaths in the construction industry. The fall protection fines amounted to over $30 million in 2015 alone from over 6,000 sites in the United States. There are several factors associated with this hazard, including unstable working surfaces, failure or misuse of protection equipment, and human error. Many studies have shown that using fall arrest systems, guardrails, covers, safety nets and restraint systems can effectively prevent injuries and death from falls.
- Erect guardrail systems with strong toe boards and warning lines, or simply install a computerized system to protect workers near the edge of the roof and floors
- Use aerial lifts or high platforms to offer safe elevated working surfaces
- Use personal fall arrest systems or safety net systems
- Cover floor holes
About $ 6 million of the total fines issued by Occupational Safety & Health Administration (OSHA) to construction companies in 2015 was mainly attributed to ladder safety. OSHA estimates that there are about 25,000 injuries and as many as 40 fatalities annually due to falls from ladders and stairways used in construction. In fact, most of these injuries required time off the job.
- Have a competent person inspect all the ladders before use
- Use the right ladder for the task
- Ensure the ladder is of appropriate height to reach the work area
- Never load ladders beyond the manufacturer's rated capacity
- Mark or tag defective ladders for replacement or repair
- Avoid metallic ladders near overhead power lines or electrical works
3. Bodily Injuries
Serious injuries can occur to your body when it exposed to hazardous materials and equipment that may cause injuries or illness. As an employer, you must provide your employees with personal protective gear, including clothing and other work gear designed to create a barrier against workplace dangers as specified by OSHA.
- Ensure all construction workers wear hard hats to prevent injuries from falling objects
- Ensure employees wear safety glasses or face shields
- Ensure workers wear work boots that are puncture and slip resistant
- Wear the correct gloves for the job
Approximately 2.5 million construction workers regularly work on scaffolds. According to OSHA, preventing scaffold accidents would reduce an estimated 5,000 injuries and more than 50 fatalities from occurring every year.
- Unstable objects like boxes, barrels, loose concrete or bricks should not be used to support scaffolds
- The scaffold must be rigid and good enough to carry its own weight, plus five times the intended load without displacement or settling
- The scaffold must be equipped with high-quality mid-rails, guardrails, and toe-boards
- The scaffold should not be moved, dismantled, re-erected or altered except under the authority and supervision of a competent person
- The scaffold must be at least 10 feet from live electric power lines at any time
- Inspect synthetic and manila ropes used as mid-rails and top rails as frequently as possible for the strength required
- Provide work safety and health training to employees using scaffolds
5. Vehicles And Mechanized Equipment
Most potential hazards in the construction industry are associated with the use of vehicles and mechanized equipment. Unfortunately, vehicles and mechanized equipment are often involved in accidents that are a result of mechanical failure or human errors, causing injuries to the operators or to bystanders.
- All construction equipment left adjacent to construction areas or unattended at night should have reflectors, lights or barricades to identify their location
- The supervisory professionals should ensure that all vehicles and equipment are inspected before use to verify their operating condition
- A fire extinguisher no less than 5 BC rating should be available at any operator station
- Only those operators trained in the use of a specific type of machinery should be authorized to operate the machinery
6. Lack Of Communication
Failure to recognize and understand the material safety data sheet instructions with chemicals can lead to respiratory problems, chemical burns, explosions, and fire. Although this rarely happens on a construction site, employers must take appropriate precautions to ensure that employees and third parties are safe.
- Maintain a clear material safety data sheet for all chemicals in the facility
- Train employees on how to use the material safety data sheets
- Have a written spill control plan
- Enforce the procedure of employees following the instructions of the material safety data sheet from the manufacturer when handling hazardous chemicals