Construction is tiresome work. It’s also dangerous work. As every construction worker knows, some risk is inherent in the job. Still, many construction accidents and injuries are preventable. Being aware of the hazards – and understanding how to navigate them – is critical for staying safe on the job.
The following hazards pose the biggest risk to construction workers:
- Heights: Many types of construction work require working at heights. It’s no surprise that falls are the No. 1 killer of construction workers nationwide. Whether you’re on a ladder, a roof or a skyscraper, your safety depends on adequate fall protection.
- Falling objects: Gravity poses a danger for workers on the ground as well as those up high. Safety equipment such as nets can reduce the risk of falling objects. If you’re working in the vicinity of scaffolding or cranes, stay aware of your surroundings. Always wear a hard hat, and never walk beneath crane loads or other lifting operations.
- Equipment: Heavy machinery such as excavators, forklifts and bulldozers are obvious dangers. Yet even handheld power tools can cause significant injuries or death. Equipment-related accidents frequently arise from operator error, equipment malfunctions, product defects, inadequate safety features, improper maintenance or repairs, and insufficient training.
- Trenches: Earth-moving operations can lead to cave-ins and collapses. These tragic accidents kill dozens of workers every year – and they’re entirely preventable. Federal safety regulations establish detailed requirements for trenchwork. Unfortunately, not all employers implement them.
- Electricity: Construction often involves working with (or in close proximity to) electrical components. Safety violations such as improper lockout/tagout procedures or inadequate clearance from live wires can cost workers their lives.
When accidents do happen, there may have been negligence at play. Employers and site managers sometimes cut corners to save money and reduce delays. Yet it’s the workers who pay the price for such lapses.