The construction trade is one of the most dangerous occupations 1, and workers can be at high risk for on-the-job accidents and injuries. Many different jobs fall within the construction industry, including: laborers, heavy machine operators (forklift operators, crane operators), cement masons, demolition teams, electricians, pipe fitters, plumbers, sprinkler fitters, steam fitters, welders, iron workers, painters, roofers, and more. There are over 252,000 active construction sites throughout the U.S. every day. Below are five essential safety tips workers in this industry need to know2.
1. Construction sites are innately high-risk.
Heavy machinery and large construction materials can lead to workers being struck, or getting caught between or in them. Head injuries and traumatic brain injuries are among the most frequent job site injuries, even when hard hats and protective head gear are worn. Daily inspections of hard hats are needed to check for any defects, and they should always be replaced if any impact is sustained – regardless of if there is visible damage3. Other common injuries include: broken or fractured bones, loss of fingers/toes or other amputations, and loss of hearing.
2. Falls cause most deaths in construction4.
Scaffolding and ladders are common on job sites, and proper precautions must be taken to prevent injuries or fatalities. These devices should be placed on flat, unobstructed ground. When possible, use the “buddy system” and have someone on the ground holding the ladder steady, especially when climbing and descending. All safety tools need to be available for workers that will be climbing ladders or scaffolds. Training on how to properly use these items should also be required for all workers to prevent accidents.
3. Electrical hazards can be deadly.
Around a job site there may be exposed wires, overheated electrical equipment and other conditions that can cause electrical fires. Common injuries include burns, shocks, heart attacks and electrocutions, which can be deadly.
Certain precautions can be taken to prevent injuries:
- Before any work commences, ensure that all power is turned off.
- Any damaged or frayed electrical cords or cables should be replaced.
- All electrical tools and equipment should be checked frequently for defects.
- Ensure that an effective lockout/tagout system is used to shut down equipment5.
4. Repetitive motions can lead to lasting injuries/conditions.
Construction involves many repetitious movements that can leave workers with permanent injuries or aggravate existing conditions such as carpal tunnel, tendonitis, bursitis, disc and joint injuries. Awkward postures or positions that must be held for a long period of time can contribute to these types of injuries6. These types of injuries can be eligible for workers’ compensation.
5. Weather conditions may affect your health.
Extreme heat and cold can lead to heat stress or hyperthermia. Heat stress occurs when the body cannot cool itself properly and begins to store excessive heat. Dizziness, fatigue, increased heart rate, loss of consciousness and even death are possible consequences of heat stress. Those who work outside during high humidity days are prone to heat stress if they do not take breaks, drink plenty of water or have access to air conditioned spaces7. In extremely cold temperatures, hypothermia can occur when body heat is lost faster than it can be replaced and body temperature drops under 95 °F. Signs of cold stress and hypothermia are shivering, numbness, confusion, slow breathing, slow pulse, loss of consciousness or death. Dress properly for the cold, try to remain dry, keep extra clothing to change into in case any clothing gets wet and drink warm sweetened fluids to prevent cold stress8.
Fatalities among construction-site workers are some of the highest and are on the rise9. By knowing common potential job-site injuries, workers can take necessary safety precautions and protect their rights if they become injured on the job. If a workplace injury should occur, having an experienced workers’ compensation attorney on your side can help you secure the benefits you deserve while you recover.
If you or someone you know is a construction worker that has experienced a job injury, use the contact form below for a free consultation.