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Top causes of fatalities on construction sites

As anyone who works in construction knows, it's a dangerous industry. In fact, it's one of the deadliest. One out of every five worker deaths across the country involves construction.

Safety should be the No. 1 priority at every worksite. Unfortunately, all too often, other priorities get in the way - efficiency, productivity, convenience and profit, to name a few. It's often up to individual workers to keep an eye out for their own safety.

How to stay safe

You can only do so much to protect yourself. You might follow the rules meticulously, but other workers could be careless. Construction companies and site managers may fail in their responsibilities. Important training requirements may go ignored. And, in some cases, the hazard may lie with the equipment or tools themselves.

So how do you stay safe on the job? Awareness and education are at the heart of construction worker safety. By knowing the risks, you can take steps to avoid them.

The big four

According to OSHA (the Occupational Safety and Health Administration), the following "fatal four" contribute to more than half of all construction worker deaths:

  • Falls
  • Electrocution
  • Getting hit by something (such as a falling object)
  • Getting crushed by equipment, objects or materials (including trench collapses and vehicle accidents)

These deaths are often preventable through compliance with safety regulations. Yet, sadly, these four critical areas are also among the most overlooked. In 2016 alone, the most frequently cited safety violations included:

  • Insufficient fall protection
  • Unsafe ladders and scaffolding
  • Problems with electrical wiring
  • Unsafe machinery and guarding

Know your rights

Construction workers should never be exposed to illegal and unsafe conditions just to earn a living. As a worker on the ground, you're in the best position to identify safety lapses and report them. You can't face retaliation for speaking up.

And, heaven forbid, should tragedy strike and an injury occur, you may have a right to compensation.

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