Did you know that construction workers account for one in five workplace deaths in the United States? That is according to OSHA, or the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, which regulates workplace safety, while USA Today ran an article that states that construction is the country’s 9th most dangerous occupation. However, construction can be a safe profession to pursue, as well as a lucrative one, if proper safety rules are followed and some of the more dangerous aspects of the job are appropriately respected. Here are seven ways that construction site accidents can be prevented:
1. Respect OSHA Regulations
OSHA exists for a reason. The body institutes rules and procedures to ensure the safety of those that work on construction sites and those that are employed by other hazardous workplaces. Employers that cut corners, or encourage employees and sub-contractors to do so, risk everyone’s safety. All OSHA violations, as well as incidents involving any injuries, should be reported to the agency immediately.
2. Institute Mandatory Safety Training
It is the employer’s responsibility to ensure that all employees and sub-contractors are thoroughly educated on workplace safety standards and are fully aware of all safety and health policies that are in place with regard to each job they are assigned. This can include confined space training, extensive training for working with motorized equipment, and training before working with certain hazardous chemicals. It should also go without saying that no employee should use any equipment on his or her own that he or she is not licensed or trained to operate.
3. Always Operate Equipment the Way the Manufacturer Intended
Using construction equipment, tools, or vehicles in a manner in which they were not designed to operate means that built-in safety features may not be able to be relied upon in an emergency. You can also damage the equipment by misusing it and this can lead to injuries for the next employee that uses the same tool.
4. Wear Protective Gear and Clothing
If you are working in a construction zone, it is imperative that you are wearing the right gear to preserve your own safety on the job. This can include steel-toed boots, gloves, a hard hat, goggles, and ear plugs. If you are working with asbestos or other hazardous materials, you may need a head-to-toe protective suit. In darker conditions, bright or neon vests may be required. Conversely, in the summer, a wide-brimmed hat, sunglasses, and a nape protector can shield you from harmful ultraviolet rays.
5. Maintain a Pristine Workplace
When workers forget to clean up spills or leave tools hanging around that should have been put away, falls and slips as well as other accidents are prone to occur. All materials and equipment need to be cleaned up immediately after use or at least once a job is finished. Walkways should also be free of debris. Such negligence can lead to serious injuries.
6. Practice Fall Prevention
Speaking of falls, they are, unfortunately, the most common cause of death on construction sites. That is why it is crucial to install fall prevention measures on each job where height is a pertinent issue. Toe boards, guardrails, nets, canopy structures, and screens prevent falls, as do scaffolding, if installed correctly, which can be tricky. The structure must be constructed adequately in order to support the weight of a human being. If it is not, it can collapse, leading to catastrophic injury or death. Scaffolding must also be inspected at regular intervals in order to be considered safe over time.
7. Inspect Tools and Machinery Regularly
Construction workers must be sure that all machinery and tools are in good working order before they must use them in what could quickly become a dangerous situation. Every piece of equipment should be put on a schedule for regular maintenance and inspection, so workers can trust that they will always operate properly in the midst of a job. Broken parts or malfunctioning machinery can lead to workers becoming trapped, maimed, or even getting killed.
In conclusion, it is always better to be safe than sorry. According to the Huffington Post, a bit of prevention can keep costs down, prevent down time, end litigation, and most of all, save lives. That is why it is imperative that construction workers keep safety in mind every day. If everyone does their part, most construction accidents can easily be prevented.