Construction workers must be prepared for the everyday dangers that job sites present. Work-related accidents can result in injuries as small as cuts and bruises, and can even be fatal. They can also reduce productivity or put your company at risk of a lawsuit.
It’s important to know the most common injuries and the causes of accidents in construction in order to keep your employees safe. Take steps to be proactive and create a safe environment for all employees by bearing in mind some ways to avoid injuries at building sites.
Construction workers spend plenty of time on ladders and other high places, opening them up to near-constant potential for falls. The fall itself can be dangerous enough—especially if it’s off a roof or a highway bridge. But, workers can land in a hole or on tools and other equipment that can lead to even more severe injuries.
Falls can be mitigated by ensuring proper safety precautions are taken any time an employee is tasked with being off the ground. This includes but is not limited to making sure ladders are secure and, when possible, barriers or restraints are in place to prevent falls from high places.
Struck by an object
Power tools and other objects can fall from upper to lower spaces, if not properly secured. Additionally, airborne materials and flying debris can result in an eye or other injury. Injuries from these sorts of accidents can be avoided by wearing hard hats, safety glasses, masks and other personal protective equipment while on a construction site. Additionally, everyone should be trained to make sure that safety switches are on when a tool is not being used.
Hazardous waste removal
Building site hazards include toxic chemicals, fumes, gases and odors that could cause respiratory disease, lung cancer or loss of vision. This is especially common when working with asbestos or laying sewer pipelines.
Take precautions and ensure you’re compliant with any relevant OSHA regulations regarding the chemicals you are using. Have an emergency response planned in case accidents do happen.
If you need workers to direct traffic at a site, take every precaution to make sure motorists know what to do. Have the worker wear highly-visible reflective gear and give them proper training on how to direct traffic. Always ensure road markers and barricades are in place during road construction.
Construction sites are busy. People and equipment are moving around constantly and, if someone isn’t paying attention, collisions can happen.
Employees getting hit by construction vehicles or walking into another employee can lead to severe injuries. Likewise, employees and vehicles may collide with walls or sharp objects, which also create serious injury risks.
To prevent collisions, avoid clutter when possible on your construction sites, and make sure lighting complies with OSHA’s standards. If heavy equipment is being driven on your site, designate safe areas for those on foot to stand, and prohibit the use of earbuds and loud music.
Generators and power tools can malfunction and lead to electrocution, explosions, or other injuries. Mechanical failures can also occur with concrete mixers, hoists, jack hammers, laser beams and robotics.
Wear heavy-duty gloves and check the equipment for damage before using it. Cranes can also collapse or tumble over during a storm. Do not operate heavy equipment in extreme weather conditions.
Damage from poor construction
Poor construction and design can create structural failures and hazards for anyone at a building site.
This is often caused by workers who want to save time speed through their tasks or companies who cut corners on costs or processes.
To avoid these accidents, ensure your employees understand how cutting corners can endanger themselves and others. Use high quality materials and never cut corners.
Common construction injuries occur because there is frequent stress on the knees, back and neck.
Workers kneel, bend, crouch and climb frequently, which can result in sprains, a break in the spinal cord or head injuries. Repetitive motion and stress injuries are common when over-exerting one body part consistently.
Encourage your employees to take regular breaks. If possible, also educate them on the benefits of stretching or gently massaging body parts that may be at risk for these types of injuries.
Extreme weather conditions—hot or cold, rain or snow—can lead to a number of other issues on this list, but they also present dangers of their own.
Heat stress, heat stroke, hypothermia and frostbite are common construction weather accidents. While less common, lightning strikes and hail-related injuries can also put your employees at risk.
Make sure your employees are well-prepared for the environment they’ll be working in. If necessary, educate them on proper attire for specific conditions.
If weather conditions are too extreme, do not let your employees work until they improve.
Fires and explosions
Though rare, explosions and fires at job sites can happen—and they can be deadly. This is particularly problematic if a job requires working with flammable material.
To help mitigate these risks, always ensure there’s a fire extinguisher on site, and make sure your employees know how to use it. You should also regularly inspect the area for hazards that could cause a fire and report them.
Construction site accidents can happen to anyone at any time. While they commonly occur due to negligence, even diligent employees can be at risk if proper safety precautions aren’t taken.
While you’ll never prevent 100% of construction-related accidents, taking a few preemptive measures can make your employees significantly safer.