Construction workers encounter more frequent and dangerous safety risks within their occupation than most other employees. Construction sites are filled with dangerous machinery, environments, hazards, and chemicals that can cause major to lethal injury without constant vigilance. In statistics provided by OSHA’s official website, there were a total 4,836 fatalities in 2015. Of those, 937 were specific to the construction industry.
OSHA and private occupational safety professionals play an integral part within construction safety protocol. They use previously collected data and reports along with current observations to continuously create, revise, and implement construction safety regulations. Additionally, occupational safety professionals search to remove the presence of construction hazards altogether. By utilizing safer machinery, chemicals, and tools, they can eliminate the chance of injury or more from the environment.
Along with minimizing and eradicating safety risks in the workplace, they also provide vital construction safety information to the public. OSHA’s official site is a valuable resource that identifies common construction risks, their potential consequences, and precautionary methods to stay safe. The following are a few examples:
Protective gear is important because head injuries are caused by a myriad of construction hazards. Engineers, architects, and occupational safety professionals design buildings to be as safe as possible to maximize safety and efficiency. Unfortunately, risks are most present prior to construction completion. Falling objects, low-hanging hazards, exposed wiring, and tripping risks threaten head injury throughout construction sites.
Head injuries can cause seizures, memory loss, impaired motor function, and death. In order to avoid these consequences, construction safety regulations require hard hats be worn in areas with strong potential for head injury. Hard hats are a simple and effective solution protecting construction workers from sudden or hidden risks.
Due to their size and power, cranes are a natural but necessary construction hazard. Besides safety risks associated with misused or malfunctioning cranes – which should be identified during regular inspections – other risks are still present. Workers can be hit by a crane’s load and damage can be caused by its boom and load line. More so, electrocution can cause multiple fatalities if the boom or line contacts a powerline.
Many precautions are taken before, during, and after crane operations. The crane and surrounding environment are inspected, work orders are reevaluated, the swing radius is barricaded, and crane operators are instructed not to swing loads over workers or the public. Even with the precautions taken, crane use can lead to accidents. That’s why construction sites stay alert to where and when cranes are in operation.
Scaffolding and Fall Protection
Scaffolding and fall protection are closely related as many falls occur from scaffolding. Whether appropriately erected or not, scaffolding presents falling hazards that can only be avoided by alert workers. According to OSHA reports, 2.3 million workers use scaffolding annually. Because of their frequent use, safety professionals particularly focus on minimizing their hazards and improving safety precautions.
Similar to cranes, scaffolding must be frequently inspected for security and stability. Workers have to maintain weight limits when working and construction materials have to be transported upward carefully. Along with rigid guardrails to prevent falling, construction workers are required to wear hard hats. Most importantly, scaffolding must be 10 feet from power lines because they are made by conductive materials. Occupational safety professionals try to make scaffolding more secure against the supporting structure as well as maximize individual protection.
Trenches are routes dug into the ground at different depths depending on the purpose. Soil can be very unstable and trenches can collapse without warning before they are secured. Construction workers working in the trench, face dangerous consequences such as burial and suffocation. Trenching accidents can occur for a variety of reasons, from accidentally disturbed soil to poorly established exits.
Safety professionals have developed a number of precautionary methods to prevent unneeded trenching injuries. Workers can’t be in an unprotected trench, 20-foot trenches require a professionally designed protective system, exits need to be clearly marked and stable, and trench angles can’t be too steep. Similar to heights and falling protection, construction workers must wear hard hats to protect against falling objects.
According to OSHA statistics, 95,000 workers are hurt during forklift operation per year. Of those, at least 100 are fatal injuries. Forklifts are effective, but dangerous machinery that can only be operated by trained professionals. They are used in close quarters and frequently near other workers which increases the risk of injury. Occupational safety professionals can’t replace forklifts, so they look to minimize accidents through stringent regulation.
The following are a few forklift regulations: only certified professionals can operate forklifts; forklifts need to be maintained; no modification can be made to the forklift without prior approval; never speed or brake quickly in slippery areas; seatbelts are always worn; and minimize movement with elevated loads.
Precautions Promote Safety
Occupational safety professionals are committed to safety within all workplaces. Many construction workers help build workplaces that will be on the cutting edge of safety when completed. Until completion, however, most construction sites are filled with the most dangerous hazards any employee will face. To protect them while constructing safer buildings of the future, safety professionals assure sites are cleared of unnecessary risks and workers are personally protected. Construction sites are one of the few workplaces where the risks can’t be removed; but they can be minimized.
Learn to identify and analyze potential workplace hazards, infractions and risks through a bachelor of science in occupational safety online. At Eastern Kentucky University, you will gain a graduate-level education by industry-experienced educators and fire and safety professionals who are committed to teaching and preparing you for continued success.