According to OSHA, construction is one of the most dangerous industries in the country. Out of all worker deaths in 2018, just over 20% of them occurred in this sector. What are the most common on-site injuries, and how can you avoid them?
The Fatal Four
There are many different types of possible injuries on a construction job site, but some are more common than others. According to OSHA, these injuries earned the moniker of the Fatal Four, and they were responsible for 58.6% of construction fatalities in 2018.
Falls are the most common cause of workplace fatalities. The easiest way to prevent them is to use appropriate safety equipment and fall arrestors when working above the ground. Ensure that this equipment is in good repair, maintained regularly and replaced as necessary.
Struck-by injuries can come in a variety of forms, from falling tools to collapsing scaffolding. Dropped or flying objects can cause severe injuries or even death. Providing and maintaining PPE, such as hardhats and setting up safe zones in areas where items are likely to fall, can prevent these issues.
3. Caught in/Between
Whenever there is heavy equipment on the job site, there is the potential for caught in or between injuries. These occur when an employee gets crushed either by a piece of machinery or between the equipment and a solid object. Avoiding this accident is as simple as setting up safety zones to keep employees separate from heavy equipment and any large pieces that could cause this kind of injury.
Electrocutions are the last member of the fatal four. As their name suggests, these incidents occur when an employee comes into contact with electricity. The best way to avoid these injuries or fatalities is to continually reinforce safety training and ensure everyone follows OSHA-approved lockout/tagout procedures when working on electrical repairs.
Repetitive Stress Injuries
According to OSHA, repetitive stress injuries — also known as musculoskeletal disorders or MSDs — are among the most common causes of workplace injuries. In 2016, they were responsible for 32% of days away from work. We see repetitive stress injuries in all sorts of different shapes and sizes, from carpal tunnel syndrome to rotator cuff injuries in the shoulder.
The easiest way to avoid MSDs is to vary activity cycles. Companies might even consider investing in automation to take over some of the mundane tasks that could result in repetitive stress injuries.
Trenching is an essential part of the construction industry, but watching one collapse is often a construction worker’s biggest fear. If someone is in the trench, they’re at risk of getting buried alive, which can easily end in a fatality.
The easiest way to avoid trench collapses is to ensure they’re reinforced and protected against cave-ins. Everyone on the job also needs to know how to respond in the event of a collapse. If someone is trapped, it’s a race against time to get them out.
Forklifts are an important tool in many industries, but they’re often dangerous when not used properly. There are around 34,000 serious injuries and 85 fatalities as a direct result of their use. Upwards of 42% of those fatalities occur when imbalanced or improperly used forklifts tip and crush the operator. Proper training is the best tool to prevent these injuries and deaths from impacting your job site.
Avoid Construction Site Injuries
There are countless ways for a person to get hurt or killed on a construction site, but there are just as many methods to stay safe and protect your team. Address each of these common injury types and ensure that everyone is aware of what is necessary to prevent injuries.
This article was written by Emily Folk, a freelance writer covering topics in green technology and sustainability. You can follow her on her blog, Conservation Folks, or Twitter @EmilySFolk for her latest updates.