Construction accidents can be prevented by implementing a number of safety measures, including:
- Worker training
- Appropriate site management
- Making available proper safety gear and equipment
- Equipment maintenance
For each type of accident common to construction sites, there are specific ways to train workers, manage sites, and ensure correct gear is available and used. We shall review some of these methods here.
Common Construction Accidents Can Be Prevented
The United States Department of Labor Occupational Safety & Health Administration (OSHA) reports that falls, “struck-by,” “caught-in/between,” and electrocutions represent the most common construction accidents. For each type of accident, site workers and supervisors should implement a variety of important preventive measures.
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How Fall Construction Accidents Can Be Prevented
The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reports that approximately 30 percent of construction industry deaths result from falls. These accidents are the number-one cause of death in this industry.
The Centers for Disease Control & Prevention (CDC) recommends that companies take the following measures to safeguard their worksites from falls from heights:
- Make sure that workers have access to the appropriate safety equipment they need for working at heights.
- Before any job commences, plan ahead for safety protocols.
- Ensure that workers receive the proper training on using all construction equipment generally and safety equipment in particular, so that work can be performed safely on scaffolds, ladders,roofs and throughout the construction job-site.
OSHA sees falls as a major hazard in the construction industry. The agency even has a standard for fall protection. According to OSHA, construction contractors and workers avoid potentially serious falls by using ladders and scaffolds safely, blocking floor openings and labeling opening covers, protecting site perimeters, and using appropriate fall arrest gear.
How Falls Happen
In their analysis of work-related accidents, BLS outlines the wide range of types of falls that occur in the construction industry, which includes falls:
- Through existing openings or surfaces
- From materials that are stacked or piled
- From roofs
- From ladders
- From scaffolding
- Down a set of stairs or steps
- From structural steel, like a building girder
- To lower levels
- From stationary vehicles
- From collapsing equipment or structures
- From dock, floor, or ground level
How Struck-By Construction Accidents Can Be Prevented
Struck-by accidents happen on construction sites in a variety of ways, according to OSHA. Workers could be struck by:
- Falling objects
- Flying objects
- Rolling objects
- Swinging objects
Cranes, trucks, and other heavy equipment and vehicles represent common sources of struck-by accidents. Tools and particles may fly or fall, injuring workers, and walls could fall while being constructed, striking nearby workers on the site.
Here are some of the ways OSHA suggests for avoiding struck-by accidents on a construction site:
- Wear seat belts.
- Inspect vehicles before shifts.
- Use a reverse alarm when backing up.
- Avoid driving in unsafely constructed areas.
- Certify all forklift operators.
- In traffic, use of flaggers, signs, and barricades, along with the wearing of orange vests.
- Inspect hoists, cranes, and tools before using them.
- Use guardrails on scaffolds, as well as screens, toeboards, and debris nets.
- Train workers how to safely operate power tools
- Secure tools to keep them from falling.
- Maintain compressed air at 30 psi when used for cleaning.
- Use hard hats, face shields, goggles, safety glasses, and other protective gear.
- Never work under suspended loads.
Instructions that include these suggestions will help in bringing about the proper training of a construction crew, enhancing safety and reducing accidents.
Preventing Construction Caught-In/Between Accidents
Caught-in/between accidents distinguish themselves by the cause of the injury. In a struck-by accident, the impact of the object causes the victim to be injured. On the other hand, in a caught-in/between accident, the victim sustains an injury as the result of being crushed between objects.
Examples of these types of accidents include:
- A worker gets caught in or pulled into machinery or equipment.
- A trench or excavation wall caves in.
- A worker is crushed between shifting, sliding, or rolling objects, like a semi-truck and a wall.
Safety+Health magazine, published by the National Safety Council, offers the following suggestions for how caught-in/between construction accidents can be prevented:
- Follow OSHA requirements for having a trained, competent person onsite during excavations to inspect the worksite, identify hazards, and take any needed action.
- Use only machinery that is correctly guarded and know how to spot machine conditions that are not safe.
- Train workers on tagout/lockout procedures (lowering blades on bulldozers; block wheels on vehicles; turning off vehicles before repairing them).
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How to Prevent Electrocutions on Construction Sites
The Center for Construction Research and Training (CPWR) reports that in 2016, electrocution deaths in the construction industry constituted 61 percent of all work-related fatalities by electrocution. Most of these accidents occur with electric tools. Ladders, trucks, and hand tools are other high-risk sources for electrocution deaths in construction work.
To prevent electrocutions, OSHA recommends the following:
- Maintain a safe distance from power lines.
- Check around for overhead power lines before using an equipment.
- Look for electrocution hazards before using ladders and scaffolds.
- Identify the location of utilities and what type they are before starting work.
- Use ground-fault circuit interrupters.
- Only use grounded or double-insulated portable tools.
Taking these precautions go a long way toward protecting yourself and your fellow workers from a dangerous electrical encounter.
Call Us if Your Construction Accident Could Have Been Prevented
If you suffered an injury in a construction accident anywhere in the five boroughs, the legal team at Friedman & Simon, L.L.P. wants to help you recover damages to pay medical bills, recoup lost income, and even compensate you for pain and suffering.
Call Friedman & Simon, L.L.P. today at (516) 932-0400 for a free consultation.