The risk of personal injury is quite high on construction sites, where dangerous tools like industrial trucks, power tools and scaffolding can be found. Combined, these tools only increase their levels of danger. Many accidents resulting in personal injury are caused by negligence, improper use of tools, poor planning and failure to use protective equipment. And many of these accidents can be avoided if the proper precautions are taken.
According to OSHA and from our experience, these 10 are the most common causes of personal injury on a construction site:
- Falls: They take the number one spot for causing not just injury, but death. Falling hazards are all around a construction site and can occur for a number of different reasons. Most occur from falling off a roof or through a skylight. But another common occurrence is when a worker simply steps backward without looking and falls through an open-sided floor. At ground level, slips and trips occur when construction debris, materials, and power chords are lying around. Falls like these can be reduced by taking safety precautions, identifying potential fall hazards, and by implementing fall prevention solutions through proper worker training.
- Unsafe Working Areas: This includes unprotected sides, uncovered holes, protruding steel re-bars and wall openings. All of these conditions are hazardous and preventable. Proper management, planning, and execution of safety practices by contractors and employers are necessary to site safety.
- Vehicles: When operating industrial trucks the risks are evident. Most wrecks occur when operators are careless. For example, reversing a bulldozer without looking behind them and running into a co-worker or pedestrian. Or when a forklift operator moves an unstable load with someone underneath and the load drops. These can be prevented by simply keeping people clear of the moving truck or lifted load.
- Falling Objects: You can be struck by a number of different objects at a construction site, like rocks, steel and tools. You’re at risk of these things when walking or working beneath cranes and scaffolds. Additionally, “flying” objects can injure people when pushing, pulling or prying makes objects become airborne. You can reduce these injuries by wearing hard hats and safety glasses, and by not working underneath loads being moved or scaffolds.
- Scaffolding Problems: These are often caused by negligent construction and maintenance. The improper erection of scaffolding can make it unsafe and unstable. Most injuries are the result of the planking or support giving way. Sometimes workers slip or are struck by falling objects. Contractors and employers can reduce this risk by ensuring proper construction and maintenance of scaffolding.
- Electrical: Injuries of this type are often caused by contact with overhead power lines, live wiring, transformers, and electric currents from machines, power tools, appliances or lighting fixtures. Preventing injuries involves insulating and grounding wires and overhead lines, and guarding entrances to rooms containing exposed live parts. Additionally, all persons on the site should be properly trained to ensure safe electrical work practices and procedures.
- Cave Ins: Collapsed excavating walls and trenches can crush, asphyxiate, suffocate and poison workers. Trench collapses can be triggered not only by the work at hand, but by vibrations from nearby activity and overly damp soil. Proper inspection of soil before excavation and trench wall protective systems are helpful in preventing these break downs.
- Ladders: Very similar to scaffolding problems; improper set up and lack of attention to safety details can be dangerous. Ladders can collapse or are often not used properly. By conducting regular safety checks and training employees about safety measures while on ladders, many of these falls can be prevented.
- Power Tools: These injuries are usually caused by carelessness; failure to use protective eyewear and not using the protective guards on the power tools. This carelessness can lead to eye injuries, major cuts amputations and sometimes death. Always use protective gear and guards.
- Lifting/Straining: Lifting with the back instead of the legs and failure to use lifting panels and provided lifting equipment when carrying drywall, plywood or siding can often cause serious injuries. To reduce these injuries, lift heavy objects the proper way and safely use the provided lifting equipment.
The danger of a construction site cannot be avoided, but by taking the right safety precautions these dangers may not lead to injury. Use common sense and operate equipment wisely. And speak up, make sure Buncombe County contractors and fellow site workers are not putting your safety on the back burner just for quicker and cheaper construction.
Last updated 7/5/2015