Top Causes of Construction Accident Injuries and How to Prevent Them
Even the most diligent construction companies can still be at risk for a major accident. Construction disasters don’t happen on their own, either. It is typically the outcome of a sequence of events that inevitably contributed to the accident.
Let’s explore some of the most common types of construction accidents and how you can work to prevent them.
#1 – Falls
Not surprisingly, falls pose one of the biggest threats to building sites. Traditionally, this is the leading cause of death of construction workers every year, with 991 fatalities in 2016 alone.
Proper fall defense is not always in place at building sites. Weak scaffolding protection also poses a high risk, with scaffolding problems being a major contributor to fall hazards.
This is up to employers to protect their staff and contractors at work. Investing in fall safety equipment (e.g. harnesses), inserting toe rails around open platforms, installing handrails, and providing personal protective gear can all help minimise the risk of falling.
#2 – Slips and Trips
One of the biggest causes of all injuries at work is a significant threat to construction sites. There are a variety of opportunities for holes, machinery, rough terrain or weather conditions to increase the likelihood of a slip or a trip. Slips and falls can easily occur even with safety training with adequate precautions. Ensure your employees are aware of the possible dangers at work. Emphasizing caution, marking slip and trip hazards, and encouraging workers to remain vigilant while on the job can help to reduce risk.
#3 – Electrocutions
One of the top four leading causes of death at work is electrocution. In 2016 alone, 82 electrocution deaths accounted for over 8 per cent of all fatalities at work. While this number has traditionally been higher (more than 300 associated deaths and thousands of injuries in 2014), electrocution remains a significant danger to construction workers.
While the causes of electrocution can vary, many of these accidents can be avoided by taking adequate precautions. Construction protection training and quality personal protective equipment ( PPE) can also be useful tools to reduce electrocution risk. Ensure your workers know that wearing PPE is a necessity, not an choice.
#4 – Struck by an Object
Another of the Fatal Four causes of workplace death, objects striking workers caused nearly 100 deaths in 2016, accounting for almost 10% of all workplace deaths for the year. Objects being dropped from up high, flying debris, suspended loads coming loose, and swinging or rolling loads all fall under this category. When any of these scenarios occur, it catches workers off-guard. They don’t have time to react to get themselves to safety. Many of them never know what hits them.
In order to combat this threat, make sure each worker is equipped with the right protective gear when using power tools (e.g. face mask, eyewear, etc). Take time to secure all tools and machinery. Wear hard hats around the construction area, even when you think work isn’t being performed. Never stand under a suspended load. And most importantly, make sure you remain visible on the construction site so that machine operators and other workers know you’re there.
#5 – Getting Caught or Crushed
Often known as “caught in between,” this form of construction accident caused more than 70 deaths in 2016 alone. These injuries occur when a worker ‘s body is trapped, squeezed, or crushed between two objects. Construction equipment rollovers and unguarded machines may contribute to caught-in-between situations.
To counter this risk, make sure that no machine is left unattended. Only authorised operators should be permitted to use the machine or equipment. Make sure the team is comfortable with any possible crushing points or other moving parts that might put them at risk. Use correct locking / tagout procedures when operating on machines and equipment to avoid start-ups and surprises. Also, pay attention to your workers’ clothing and appearance. Loose shirts, jewelry, and long hair can easily get caught in a moving machine.
Construction Accidents Can Be Prevented
When construction workers are involved in an accident, it affects not only their lives and livelihoods, but also the future of the business. Construction incidents are largely preventable and businesses should take every possible step to do their part in the training, education and protection of their workers.