Avoiding Construction Site Hazards: Six Tips

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.

Have you been injured in a construction liability accident? Read on.

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Avoiding Construction Accidents: Safety Tips, Part 2 of 2

construction accidents

The construction industry provides jobs to many Americans, with many sites having safety features in place. Unfortunately, this isn’t universally true. In fact, one in five worker deaths in 2015 were in construction. With over 20,000 safety citations issued that year, there is clearly more that can and should be done to keep construction workers safe. Continuing our previous post on avoiding construction accidents, here are four more ways to make construction sites safer for workers.

Choosing the right ladder and using it correctly

OSHA issued 2,662 citations for improper ladder use in 2015, most commonly for incorrect ladder choice, failure to secure the ladder, or carrying materials by hand while climbing the ladder. Ladders should be inspected for damage every day before use, and those found defective should be marked or tagged out immediately.

Be sure to use a ladder that is at least one meter higher than the landing it needs to reach. Before use, tie ladders to a secure point at the top and bottom. When climbing, always maintain three points of contact: two feet and at least one hand. When you need to carry tools up a ladder, always use a tool belt or a rope to pull things up. Never try to carry your materials by hand.

Safer scaffolds and aerial lifts

Scaffolding should be built on solid footing at least ten feet away from power lines. It should also be fully planked and built with guardrails, midrails and toeboards. All construction sites using lifts or scaffolding should have a fall protection system in place. Never work on scaffolding or lifts covered in slippery substances like water, ice or mud, and keep walking surfaces clear of tools and equipment. Never use boxes or ladders to reach higher places while on a scaffold or lift.

Proper eye and face protection

All workers must wear face and eye protection when working on any activity that puts workers in contact with liquid chemicals, chemical gasses or vapors, light radiation, flying particles or molten metal. These activities can include drilling, chipping, grinding, sanding, woodworking and welding. Employers must provide eye and face protection free of charge to any workers who may have contact with these hazards. When using eye and face protection, make sure that it fits properly and doesn’t interfere with your movement. Inspect eye and face protection before use and immediately replace any protection that has cracks or chips.

Proper head protection

Employers must also provide all employees with head protection free of charge. Workers must wear head protection whenever there is a risk of being hit on the head. On a construction site, that risk is almost always present, so be sure to wear your hard hat at all times. Check your hard hat regularly for cracks, dents or any other sign of damage. Make sure your hat fits snugly and doesn’t come loose during normal movement.

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Avoiding Construction Accidents: Safety Tips, Part 1 of 2

construction accident

Unfortunately, 2015 saw a 4 percent increase in worker deaths, the largest number since 2008. By making safety a priority on construction sites, many of these deaths could have been prevented. Here are three ways to make construction sites safer.

Better training and inspection

Appropriate levels of training, coupled with inspection as a follow up, helps to prevent injuries on construction sites. Workers need to be aware of the potential dangers of their job and how to deal with them. Employers are required, for example, to train workers on any equipment they will be using on the job, including emergency equipment such as fire extinguishers. Employees must also receive training on any kind of hazard they may encounter on the construction site. This could include fall protection training, ladder and scaffold safety training and hazardous material training, as well as training for any other potential hazards.

Construction sites and equipment need to be properly inspected by a knowledgeable person on a regular basis. Equipment such as scaffolds and ladders should be inspected for damage each day before use. Workers should also inspect operating equipment and personal safety equipment every time they use them.

Improved fall protection

Falls are one of the leading causes of construction worker deaths, accounting for nearly 40 percent of all worker deaths. Sadly, many of these deaths could have been prevented. In 2015, for example, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration issued over 8,000 citations for improper fall protection. Employers are required to have a fall protection system in place to protect employees working on surfaces with unprotected edges or sides that are six feet above a lower level. Employers must install these fall protection systems before any employees begin work.

Workers should pay close attention to potential hazards and fall protection systems, and should never work in any area without protection systems in place. If you are working in an area that requires a personal fall arrest system, inspect the system for any damage before using it. Also ensure that your system is anchored to a strong, secure point that won’t allow you to drop more than six feet in the event of a fall.

Better communication about hazardous materials

Construction sites can contain a variety of hazardous materials, such as asbestos, lead, zinc, mercury, cadmium, and beryllium – and OSHA issued 1,000 citations for hazard communication in 2015 alone. Employers are required to have a hazard communication program in place, including a written inventory of all hazardous materials used on the construction site. All containers of hazardous materials must also be labelled and have a hazard warning.

Workers should always be aware of what hazardous substances are in the construction site. When handling these substances, workers should always wear personal protective equipment and appropriately clean up any spills that occur.

Are you the victim of a construction liability accident?

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If you or a loved one has been injured in a South Carolina construction accident, contact the Law Offices of F. Craig Wilkerson today. Schedule a free case evaluation online or call us at: