Construction is a necessary but sometimes-dangerous industry to work in. The fatal injury rate for construction workers is higher than the national average, with 4,836 workers killed on the job in 2015 alone. Construction companies and workers alike, though, can take steps to make the industry safer. Here are some of the top construction industry problems commonly found by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration and how to fix them.
- Unsafe Scaffolding
Improper construction or use of scaffolds was the most common reason for an OSHA citation in 2004. OSHA estimates that improving scaffold-related safety would prevent 4,500 injuries and 50 deaths per year.
Construction companies can improve scaffold safety by ensuring that any scaffold is able to carry its own weight plus four times the maximum intended load without settling or displacement. Scaffolds must also have guardrails, midrails, and toeboards. If working on a construction site, always inspect the rigging on suspension scaffolds before each shift to ensure that all connections are tight and the rigging is undamaged.
- Lack of Fall Protection
Falls are the number one cause of fatalities in the construction industry. Construction companies can prevent injury and fatality by using a guardrail system with toeboards and warning lines, and by covering floor holes. They should also install control line systems to protect those working near the edges of floors and roofs.
- Unsafe Ladders and Stairways
There are an estimated 24,882 injuries and 36 fatalities per year due to falls on stairways and ladders. Almost half of these injuries required workers to take time off work.
To prevent accidents on ladders and stairways, make sure all ladders are inspected for defects before use. When ladders are damaged, mark them for repair or replacement, or destroy them immediately. Companies should make sure that all ladders can support whatever load is necessary, including the workers, their tools and their materials. Everyone should keep stairways free of debris and dangerous objects.
- Improper Head Protection
Make sure that you wear a hard hat any time there is a chance that you could bump your head, or objects could fall from above, or you could make contact with an electrical hazard.
- Lack of Hazard Communication
Companies should keep a list of hazardous substances used in the workplace and ensure that the list is updated regularly and made readily available. All containers of hazardous substances must be labelled with the product identity and a hazard warning. Companies should also ensure that employees are trained effectively on dealing with hazardous substances.
- Electrical Dangers
Work should not commence on hot electrical circuits unless all power is shut off and grounds are attached, and an effective lockout/tagout system is in place. Companies should immediately replace any damaged or worn electrical cords or cables, and they should make sure that ladders, scaffolds, and other equipment never come within 10 feet of electrical lines.
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