Accident prevention is an essential part of running a construction site. According to data released by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), 21.1% of workplace fatalities occur in the construction industry. In other words, a little more than one in five workplace fatalities happen in the construction sector.
You can’t be reactive when it comes to safety concerns. To prevent fatalities and other injuries, it’s essential to be proactive. To do so, you must be aware of potential hazards and implement changes to prevent injuries. There are four common hazards that result in the most amount of deaths. These four hazards have been coined the “Fatal Four” by OSHA. Addressing these four hazards alone would have prevented 591 deaths in the construction industry in 2015.
The four hazards are as follows:
- Falls account for 33.5% of construction industry deaths.
- Being struck by an object accounts for 11.1% of construction sector fatalities.
- Electrocution accounts for 8.5% of fatalities.
- Being caught in between objects or equipment accounts for 5.5% of deaths.
There’s no way to eliminate all the hazards in the construction industry completely. However, there are numerous things you can do to significantly decrease workplace injuries and prevent accidents on your construction site.
Enforce Proper Training and Practices
A safe construction site begins with proper training. Too often, construction site injuries happen as a result of inadequate training. All your workers must have comprehensive training before they start work.
While it’s true that a lot of the training happens on the site, safety protocols shouldn’t be addressed in real-time. Instead, before a contractor ever picks up a tool or operates a piece of equipment, they need to be thoroughly trained.
Moreover, safety training should be an ongoing thing. It’s not a one-time to-do. Regular, ongoing training should be standard practice to prevent workplace accidents. Then, the most vital thing is to enforce the safety protocols once they’ve been established.
Minimize Falling Hazards
Falling is No. 1 on the “Fatal Four” list for a reason. Go to any construction site, and you’ll find an array of tripping hazards. From power tool wires, piles of lumber, pieces of metal and more — there’s no shortage of tripping hazards on an active construction site.
While you can’t realistically operate an entirely trip-free worksite, you can do a lot to decrease the clutter. Do you best to minimize clutter and keep a clear walk space. Clean up any spills when they happen, and consider adding a Lowe’s outdoor handrail in high-risk areas.
Additionally, get rid of rickety scaffolding, uneven paving and shaky stairs. Be sure to use fall arrest systems, safety nets, restraint systems and guardrails to prevent fatal falls from high places.
Use Electricity with Caution
Cranes and power lines don’t mix. However, cranes running into power lines is a significant reason that electrocution happens. Anyone operating a crane should be well-equipped to do so, and they should never operate too close to power lines.
However, electricity concerns aren’t limited to power line collisions. The entire construction site is run with electricity. It’s imperative to replace damaged cords and use the correct extension cords with the proper tools. Ensure that every tool is properly grounded before using them.
Since electrical fires can still happen, be sure to use a fire suppression system and have a procedure in place in case an electrical fire breaks out.
Staying aware is one of the most valuable things you can do to keep your construction site safe. You need to keep your awareness high and also impress the importance of constant awareness on to your workers.
The reality is that things can still fall unexpectedly. Accidents can still happen. However, if your reflexes and attention are on lock, you can avoid injuries with quick response times. Being struck by an object or getting caught between objects are two of the “fatal four.” Both fatality categories could be minimized with heightened awareness.
If you’re trapped inside a crane radius or structural panels disconnect and fall from the ceiling – the only thing you can do is be aware enough to react and avoid injury.
Enforce your workers to stay alert. Don’t let lackadaisical attitudes or loud music be the reason that one of your workers gets seriously injured. If everyone maintains awareness from the beginning and throughout, most injuries are entirely avoidable.
Be Proactive with Safety Measures
It’s possible to operate a safe construction site as long as you enforce training and awareness and minimize apparent risks. If you keep the “fatal four” in mind and consciously take action to reduce those risks, you can have a safe and efficient construction site.
Matt Lee is the owner of the Innovative Building Materials blog and a content writer for the building materials industry. He is focused on helping fellow homeowners, contractors and architects discover materials and methods of construction that save money, improve energy efficiency and increase property value.