Understand the top construction site dangers and know your rights
Construction sites are common across the United States, making it easy to forget how dangerous they can be. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, there were approximately 1,100 deaths on construction sites in 2019, representing 20 percent of total workplace fatalities. Tens of thousands more are injured each year, largely because of a lack of safety precautions.
Safety on construction sites should always be a top priority. It’s essential for everyone who enters a construction site to be aware of their surroundings and follow the established safety rules.
Top construction hazards
There are various dangers that workers in construction sites face. According to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), falls, electrocution and getting stuck in machinery are the most common ways that construction workers die on the job. However, there are several other hazards that workers should take into consideration.
Ladders and stairway hazards
Many injuries and fatalities in construction sites occur after falling from ladders or stairways. Stairways are also commonly associated with slip-and-fall accidents.
Forklifts can cause serious injuries. According to OSHA, about 100 forklift operators die on the job every year, and another 95,000 are injured.
Construction sites have a high risk of pipe explosion. According to OSHA, explosions kill 200 workers and injure more than 5,000 more across all industries each year. Over 11 years, OSHA has recorded 361 explosion deaths in the construction industry alone. Nearly a quarter of these fatalities occurred in multiple-death incidents.
Falls and other scaffolding accidents can occur if scaffolding isn’t assembled properly. According to OSHA, about 4,500 preventable injuries and 60 fatalities occur every year from incorrectly assembled scaffolding.
Workers in construction sites often use electrical machines and equipment. This equipment can cause severe injuries to workers who are not experienced in electrical work.
Hydraulic pipe leaks
Depending on where the leak occurs, hydraulic pipe leaks can be catastrophic. Even small leaks have been known to cause explosions.
Injuries and fatalities like falls can occur due to trench collapses and cave-ins.
Cranes should undergo regular inspections and be utilized appropriately to prevent dangerous work accidents. Common injuries in crane work occur after being struck by an overhead load or getting trapped inside the swinging radius.
Construction site safety tips
In order to ensure workers’ safety, rules and regulations need to be meticulously followed. Construction workers and supervisors should stay alert and be proactive on the job to avoid injuries. Workers should also uphold workplace safety tips to prevent injuries at construction sites.
Employers should implement the following safety tips for construction workers:
Always use safety equipment
Workers in construction sites should wear safety helmets, hard hats and other personal protective equipment (PPE). Construction companies are supposed to provide these PPE items for free as per OSHA requirements. Workers should also use quality, sturdy shoes to maintain their balance.
Ensure electrical safety
Electrical equipment, such as power tools, should be tested and maintained to ensure they’re working properly. Always plug extension cords into grounded outlets and never bypass safety systems. Keep supplies and ladders away from power lines. Workers should not tamper with the electrical equipment without prior training or experience.
Participate in ongoing safety training
Safety training helps people become more aware of the risks in construction sites and learn what they can do to prevent workplace accidents. Workers and supervisors should continue to receive safety training if they want to maintain a safe working environment.
Identify potential hazards
Workers can avert construction accidents and mishaps if they can identify potentially harmful hazards and avoid them. They should also learn how to eliminate the risks associated with these hazards to maintain safety on construction sites.
Inspect equipment and tools regularly
Inspecting equipment and tools is critical for safety. Always check the condition of tools to ensure that they are in working order. Tools should be in good condition, which means that all blades should be free from cracks, and the internal components should not be damaged or worn. Tools that are adequately maintained will not only contribute to safety but also last longer.
Rules and regulations that promote worker safety
Preventing workplace incidents and promoting safety is everyone’s responsibility. OSHA has put forth specific construction rules and regulations to promote workers’ safety in construction sites. Some of these regulations include:
Right to be provided with free protective equipment
Construction employers must provide the necessary and appropriate safety equipment to their employees at no cost. OSHA requires workers to use this protective equipment for jobs that expose them to dangers.
Right to know about chemical hazards
Construction employers must inform workers about any hazardous chemicals that are used or may be present. Workers should make sure they understand the dangers of chemical exposure and know how to use any associated safety equipment.
Right to file a complaint
Workers who believe that an employer has violated any rule or regulation can file a formal complaint with OSHA, which will investigate the complaint and issue an order to ensure safety.
Right to get copies of workplace injury and illness records
Workers have the right to know how many workplace injuries and illnesses were reported in their work area. This information can help determine how their work environment compares to the rest of the industry.
Right to adequate training
Construction employers must provide workers with safety training regardless of if they are new hires or experienced employees. Employers must also train workers about specific hazards that the employees may encounter at work and teach them how to avoid them.
Right to refuse dangerous work
Workers always have a right to refuse dangerous work. An employer can’t force you to complete a task or assignment that you believe is unsafe. Never perform any tasks that could jeopardize your health.