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Per OSHA, 20.7% of all deaths occurring in private industry in 2017 were in the field of construction.
Almost 60% of those deaths occurred due to what they call Construction’s “Fatal Four”, which accounts for 582 deaths per year.
The “Fatal Four” are deaths resulting from people falling, getting struck by objects, getting electrocuted, and getting caught-in-between.
These types of accidents also cause construction injuries not resulting in death. While these are the main four reasons for death, they are not the only way people are getting hurt at work in construction.
Keep reading to learn more.
Types of Construction Injuries to Avoid
Most types of construction injuries are avoidable with proper planning and training. Take the time needed to assess the risks associated with the type of work you’re doing and plan ahead for how to keep people safe.
Make sure anyone coming onto the work site knows the risks and has training on how to lessen their chance of sustaining an injury or worse.
Here are some tips on how to prevent the “Fatal Four” since they are the more common injuries.
Falls top the list of how most construction injuries and deaths occur. They are also preventable.
To prevent falls, employ the following safeguards:
- Keep the work site free of unnecessary debris or other items people can trip over or slip on.
- If working on a roof or other high location, use a properly fitting safety harness tied to a secure location.
- Confirm ladders are set up properly on a level surface with braces secured.
- Confirm scaffolding is set up properly. Makes sure it is level, the feet are stable and guardrails are in place.
- Don’t overreach from ladders or scaffolding.
- If climbing up a pole or tree, inspect the integrity of either before climbing up. Make sure it will hold the weight of the worker and anything they are carrying up with them.
- Provide rigging when necessary.
Being Struck By Objects
When working with or removing materials, some have the risk of either falling down or getting projected into the air. This includes the tools the worker is using at the time.
For their safety, keep people out of the “drop zone” while people are doing work overhead, such as cutting tree limbs, installing joists in ceilings, or working on a roof. Mark or rope off these drop zones so that people will know there is possible danger from above and to stay out.
Take similar precautions when working with materials that can get projected off to the side. Safety net installation can protect others from flying objects.
Exposure to electrical wiring can cause burn injuries, shocks, and death.
During the construction process, there will be times when wires are not yet powered (energized). But, to stay safe, everyone should treat them all as if they are fully energized. Someone else may have turned the power on without your knowledge.
Also on a construction site, wires are often exposed. These wires can get knocked into or knocked completely down.
For exposed wires, keep a distance of ten feet between you and any materials you are carrying that can come into contact with the wires.
If wires are down, do not attempt to move them unless you are the electrician in charge of doing so. If the wire fell over your car, do not get out. Call the utility company or emergency services for help.
Do not use electrical tools or equipment when there is water on the ground or in contact with the cord.
Being Caught-In or In-Between
Caught-in or in-between accident injuries occur when something strikes a worker, or when they get caught in or by equipment.
Some examples are people caught or pulled into machinery or equipment or crushed/compressed between two objects (eg., between a vehicle and a wall).
Construction workers need to use care when working around machinery or tools that have unguarded moving parts. Turn off these types of machines during repair or maintenance. Anyone who is working nearby needs to ensure their hands or clothing do not get pulled into the moving parts.
Reinforce and maintain all trenches and excavation areas to prevent cave-ins to limit the chance of getting buried or compressed. If these areas fill with water or other liquids such as sewage or chemicals, there is a risk of drowning. Trenches can also cause expose underground wiring or other utilities. Have them inspected and take the necessary precautions to alleviate the risk of injuries that are present.
Costs for Not Keeping Workers Safe
According to the Center for Construction Research and Training, the total cost for fatal and non-fatal injuries in the construction industry are $13 billion annually.
There are direct and indirect costs associated with these injuries. Direct costs are workers’ compensation claims or disability insurance. Indirect costs are those you’ll pay to hire someone to replace the worker and investigate and fix the hazardous condition that caused the injury.
Be sure to include these costs when you are putting together your construction bid or determining the amount of the construction loan you’ll need to build your project. For the latter, here is a helpful tool.
Review Your Safety Measures Today
Many construction injuries are avoidable when the proper safety measures are in place. As long as everyone on the job site is aware of the risks and how to handle them, the worksite can remain safe.
Don’t allow yourself to get complacent about job safety.
If any of the above situations are likely to occur on your site or as part of your job, take steps now to ensure the risk of injury is as low as you can get it.
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