Five Safety Issues For Construction Site Workers

The US Department of Labor Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) identifies construction sites as some of the most dangerous workplaces in America. On any given day, there are more than 6.5 million workers on construction sites across the country, and the rate of fall injuries in the industry is higher than in any other industry.

According to OSHA, some potential hazards and safety concerns for workers on construction job sites include:

  1. Falls: Falls account for the greatest number of fatalities on construction sites every year. Falls on a construction site can be attributed to unstable work surfaces, misuse or failure to use protection equipment and human error. Ladders and stairways present an additional hazard and fall risk for construction workers. OSHA estimates there are nearly 25,000 injuries on the job related to ladders and stairways.
  2. Trench collapse: Each year, dozens of construction workers die in trench collapse accidents. Common causes of trench accidents include collapses when defective or non-existent reinforcement fails, or when backfill material is located too close to the excavation site.
  3. Scaffold collapse: Scaffolding that is not erected or used properly presents significant fall hazard for workers. Protecting workers from scaffolding collapse would prevent an estimated 4,500 injuries and 50 fatalities each year.
  4. Electric shock: Electric shock accounts for a number of injuries and fatalities on job sites. Improper use of or failure to use safety equipment or working with frayed or damaged electrical wiring can result in electrical shock.
  5. Improper use of personal protective equipment: Proper use of head, hand, foot and eye protection by workers on construction sites would prevent a number of injuries including injuries to the face and eyes, injuries from falls and injuries from a blow to the head.

KWA Construction is constantly seeking information from OSHA and other sources about how to best protect our construction workers. We find that it comes down to educating everyone on the job site about how to avoid potential safety hazards and about the importance of using personal protective equipment.

To provide a safe working environment for contractors and workers on your job site, consider these tips:

  1. Ensure scaffolding is sound and sufficient to carry its own weight plus four times the maximum intended load without settling or displacement. Erect scaffolding on solid ground.
  2. Equip scaffolding and stairways with proper guardrails.
  3. Use safety nets or fall arrest systems to prevent falls from heights.
  4. Always use the correct ladder for the task, and have the ladder inspected for defects prior to use. Do not use ladders that have structural damage or are covered in grease or dirt. Damaged or defective ladders should be marked as “Do Not Use.”
  5. Keep stairways and walkways free of dangerous objects, debris and materials. Equip all stairways 30 inches or higher with at least one handrail.
  6. Employ a professional engineer to design a protective system for trenches 20 feet or greater. Never enter an unprotected trench and always provide a way out of a trench, such as a ladder, stairway or ramp.
  7. Operators of any heavy equipment, such as forklifts and cranes, should be trained accordingly.
  8. Always use personal protective equipment, including eye and face protection, hand and foot protection and head protection.

A number of on-the-job injuries and even fatalities can be prevented in this industry by simply reviewing current safety protocol and ensuring workers on the job site follow all standards and precautions. Taking shortcuts on safety isn’t worth the potential risk to your employees and contractors.

For more on preventing injuries on construction job sites, review the OSHA Worker Safety Series for the construction industry.

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