According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, there were approximately 1,061 work-related deaths in the construction industry in 2019. This is the highest number of deaths among construction workers since 2007. The following article will discuss some causes of construction accidents as well as some practical steps for employers to avoid these accidents at the workplace.
What are Some Common Causes of Construction Accidents?
There are many factors which can contribute to construction accidents in the workplace, but some major factors include:
- Falls: Falls are one of the biggest causes of construction accidents. These types of falls include falls off roofs, ladders, scaffoldings, and skyscrapers, as well as falls into unprotected holes or improperly constructed walking/working areas.
- Slips and Trips: In construction, there are many pitfalls that could result in a slip or trip incident. There can often be uneven ground or open platforms that may lead to an accident if the proper protections are not in place.
- Being Struck by an Object: Swinging, falling, or misplaced objects can also pose a threat to construction workers. This includes falling objects resulting from rigging failures, loose materials, and equipment malfunctions.
- Electrocutions: Construction sites pose a specifically high risk of electrocutions due to exposed wiring and potential wet conditions while working (i.e. rain/snow). The risk of electrocution can also be heightened by overhead power lines, circuit malfunctions, and lightning strikes.
- Getting Caught or Crushed: Incidents where employees are crushed by or caught between machines, devices, or tools also contribute to construction accidents. These incidents include workers being caught in excavation collapses and workers being crushed between moving equipment.
What are Some Ways to Avoid Construction Accidents?
Construction accidents are preventable if employers take the appropriate steps to secure the safety of the work environment for their employees. There are a few practical steps that employers can take to prevent future construction accidents:
- Keep the workplace clean: Slip and fall accidents happen when there are debris and items haphazardly located throughout the workplace. By doing frequent checks to ensure that the workplace is free of these hazards, employers can reduce these types of accidents.
- Take measures to prevent falls. Falls are among the most common types of construction accidents. Employers should therefore use safety measures such as guardrails and scaffolding to protect employees from falling off of high structures.
- Ensure that tools are fully functional before use. Before using tools and machinery, employees should first verify that these items are fully functional. Construction accidents can result from the use of tools and machinery that are damaged or malfunctioning.
- Check that employees are wearing protective clothing: Construction work requires employees to wear very specific clothing to reduce accidents in the workplace. If an employee is not wearing the proper attire (steel-toed shoes, for example), they can be severely injured in the event of an accident.
- Provide safety training: The best way for employers to ensure that construction accidents are avoided is to make sure that their employees are well-versed on the proper safety measures for avoiding accidents. It would also be helpful for employers to educate themselves on these safety measures and to ensure that all policies are being followed.