How to avoid accidents in construction?
World Day for Safety and Health at Work promotes the prevention of occupational accidents and diseases worldwide. Occupational hazards in construction put the sector in a leading position compared to other industries.
For that reason, safety and health measures can help reduce the number of work-related deaths and injuries. There are a number of occupational hazards in construction that tend to cause most accidents. We explain what they are so that you can avoid them.
Common causes of injuries in construction work.
According to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration(OSHA), the four most common causes of fatalities related to the construction industry are falls, being struck by heavy objects, electrocutions and being caught in the middle of machinery.
Studies on the incidence in the sector have shown that 80% of accidents are caused by organisational, planning and control errors. The remaining 20% are caused by failures in execution.
In general, work on construction sites is often associated with numerous risks that can lead to accidents of various kinds, including potentially fatal ones such as falling from a height, cuts and bruises, being trapped in the ground or under debris, and even coming into contact with hazardous substances.
Statistics on these cases confirm how important it is to prioritise measures that eliminate or minimise risk at source by providing protection for all staff. Let’s find out more about this.
Why is it so important to reduce occupational hazards in construction?
Other studies also indicate that construction workers worldwide are three times more likely to die and twice as likely to be injured than workers in other industries.
In the United States alone, there are 7 million people working in the construction industry, which means hundreds of thousands of workers are at risk of an accident. In 2017, the Bureau of Labor Statistics said there were nearly 1,000 construction-related fatalities nationwide, which equates to 9.5 deaths per 100,000 full-time workers.
These incidents represent a huge cost for the employee, the employer and society in general. That is the main reason why integrating prevention into projects is so important, as demanded by current legislation (Health and Safety Study).
In addition, there is also a need for all persons involved in production processes to obtain information on injury risks and their prevention. The first stage of any construction site must consider a plan or measures to deal with any hazards. For that reason, it is essential to know how and where they most frequently originate.
Activities and areas at greatest risk during working hours.
These are some of the most common accident cases:
– Falls: can occur in any area of the site due to irregularities in the ground, obstructing materials or untidy or misplaced tools, materials and machinery.
–Falls to different levels: these tend to occur when there are collective and individual protection problems in necessary places, such as those of great height or depth.
– Vehicular accidents: these include run-overs or other incidents involving a construction vehicle. The people most at risk are the operators of such vehicles and workers in related areas.
– Tool cuts: can occur when work tools are not in proper working condition or when safety guards are not used. Again, the greatest risk is to the operators.
– Overexertion: these tend to occur more frequently in workers in load handling areas, especially when manual handling is performed.
– Contact with contaminants or toxic products: the danger of these accidents increases when products are not stored properly and precautionary measures are not followed during handling.
Preventive measures to avoid or reduce risks.
There are a number of actions that can be taken to reduce the risk of accidents related to construction work. Some of these are:
To prevent falls, it is essential to maintain the general organisation and tidiness of the site. Companies must ensure that workers or operators have safe and unobstructed access from all workplaces, e.g. stairways, pedestrian crossings, walkways, scaffolding, etc. To prevent falls, personal safety equipment including harnesses and safety lines must be provided when working on top of scaffolding or elevated platforms.
It is also essential that materials are properly stored, that there is adequate lighting in the workspace and that all openings are covered and properly marked.
For work at heights, guardrails, toeboards and safety nets must be installed to prevent people and objects from falling. It is also important to set up fences with red and white stripes at least 1.50 metres away from the edge of the casting. To prevent falls when working on a ladder, the ladder must be in good condition and properly secured to prevent it from moving or slipping.
– Vehicle accidents:
In order to reduce or prevent accidents involving construction vehicles or being run over, the entire construction site must be marked with signs indicating vehicle traffic lanes. Companies or construction companies must mark on the ground the areas where cars, cranes or lorries can pass.
It is vital to keep traffic lanes safe by marking out safe spaces around loading vehicles and excavation machinery.
Workers who are to drive the vehicles must take occupational risk prevention courses and have compulsory accreditation documents.
Working tools must be in good working condition to prevent cuts and lacerations. The removal of safety guards should be avoided.
Operators must also wear safety gloves, protective footwear and goggles to prevent accidents.
In load handling areas, it is advisable to use mechanical equipment to reduce manual handling as much as possible. It is also essential that workers know how to lift loads safely.
All lifting must be planned and carried out by personnel authorised and competent for the task.
– Contact with high-risk products:
Toxic and polluting products, such as paints or cement, are commonly used in construction. The first measure to avoid accidents related to these substances is to take care of their storage.
It is never advisable to change a chemical product from its original packaging. Nor should any chemical substance be used without knowing its characteristics and risks.
Here are some other useful practices to avoid occupational hazards in construction:
– Consult the instruction manual the first time any equipment is used.
– Carry out cleaning and maintenance of equipment while it is switched off.
– Use personal protective equipment whenever required. This includes safety helmets, safety shoes, among others.
– Maintain the hygiene of the facilities.
– Safety training and establishing emergency orders in advance and hazard management.
– Hold regular security meetings.
What to do if a worker is injured at work?
Every employee and employer should be empowered to report hazards, unsafe conditions and possible accidents within the work area. However, some accidents are unavoidable.
In these cases, it is important to report the injury or accident immediately to the company or employer to preserve the right to a workers’ compensation claim.
In addition, it is essential to seek professional and legal help to understand the procedure, as each state has defined different requirements, deadlines and conditions for responding to these situations.
If you or someone you know has been injured on a construction site, call Gorayeb & Associates at 212-267-GANE for a free consultation. Gorayeb, The People’s Attorneys specialize in construction accidents and enforce your rights no matter what the accident.
If you or someone you know has been injured on a construction site call Gorayeb & Associates at 646-846-9432 for a free consultation.