There are numerous industries that have a high risk of injury and fatality, and construction is one of the riskiest. Workers face a wide variety of hazards on a daily basis, and serious injuries are common.
Although some hazards are inherent in construction work, there are prevention strategies that can reduce many of them.
According to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, falls cause the highest rate of fatalities in the industry, while struck-by incidents are the second most common cause. Other common hazards that increase the risk of injury, death and illness include:
- Slips and trips
- Heavy equipment
- Trench collapses
Given that OSHA reports that falls account for about 33% of construction fatalities, fall prevention is a priority. Providing protection such as guard rails helps, and workers should be alert at all times when working up high. To prevent falls from ladders, fixed ladders or safe permanent stairways greatly reduce the need for risky portable ladders. Reducing the time employees need to work at heights may also help.
To prevent scaffolding accidents, there should be adequate fall protection, safe anchor points and proper access at all times. Gantry systems can eliminate the need for scaffold use when working on skylights and atriums, and the use of davits can allow for a permanent suspension system to make scaffolding use safer.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, struck-by incidents occur when there are flying or falling objects from above or when there is moving equipment or vehicles. Although they are the second most common cause of fatal injuries, these types of accidents are the number one cause of non-fatal injuries.
Along with comprehensive training, some ways to prevent these injuries include securing small tools to work belts, using pedestrian walkways, never working under a load and using nail gun sequential triggers.
Even when workers take precautions, injuries can still occur. Construction employees should understand what their options are to help ensure they have the support they need to recover.