Accidents and injuries will occur when 6.5 million people work at approximately 252,000 construction sites across the nation on any given day. The fatal injury rate for the construction industry is higher than the national average in this category for all industries. Industrial accidents and injuries occur all the time, but they can be avoided with planning and by following safety guidelines.
Many common pieces of equipment or areas can lead to accidents and injuries for workers in construction if they are not properly used and maintained, including:
Stairways: A major source of injuries and fatalities among construction workers are slips, trips and falls on stairways.
- Rain, condensation, pipe leakage and runoff can lead to slippery conditions on stairways and walkways, which must be corrected immediately.
- The law states that stairways having 4 or more risers or rising more than 30 inches must have one handrail, at minimum.
Ladders: Ladders are another source of fatalities, accidents and injuries among construction workers. OSHA estimates that falls on ladders and stairways used in construction lead 24,882 injuries and as many as 36 fatalities per year. About half of these injuries lead to time off the job for the injured worker.
- Ladders must be long enough to safely reach the area being worked with.
- Mark or tag any damaged or defective ladders to indicate the need to repair or replace them, or destroy them right away.
Trenches: Trench collapses cause dozens of fatalities and hundreds of injuries each year, and trenches present a hazard to workers who may fall within them.
- Protective systems must be in place for any trench on a work site.
- A registered professional engineer must be employed to design a protective system for trenches twenty feet deep or greater.
Scaffolding: Scaffolds must be erected and used properly, or workers may risk a fall injury. Millions of construction workers across the country work consistently on scaffolding.
- Scaffolding must be built on solid ground and be sound and rigid enough to carry its own weight, plus 4 times the maximum intended load without damage occurring to its physical integrity.
- Scaffold must include guardrails, midrails and toeboards.
Cranes: Significant injuries from crane accidents may occur if cranes are not carefully inspected before use. Additionally, they are extremely dangerous if they are not used correctly. Common injuries occur when a worker is struck by an overhead load or caught within the crane’s swing radius.
- All crane controls must be checked to insure they are operational before use.
- The crane’s load must never exceed the crane’s rated capacity.
Fall Protection: Falls cause the greatest number of fatalities in the construction industry. A number of factors are often involved in falls, including unstable working surfaces, misuse or failure to use fall protection equipment and human error.
- Using guardrails, fall arrest systems, safety nets, covers and restraint systems can prevent many accidents and injuries from falls.
- Using aerial lifts or elevated platforms can provide safer elevated surfaces for workers.
Staying safe is the most important thing for workers in any industrial work site and avoiding accidents and injuries.