The construction industry, while being one of the few industries to still thrive in the midst of the pandemic, is also one of the most dangerous industries to work in.
According to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, out of the 5,333 workers that died in the year 2019, 1,061 of them were construction workers, meaning that approximately one out of every five worker fatalities is in construction. Those numbers are shocking, even being aware of the mercurial nature of the construction industry: workers operating in sites that are scattered with detritus like war zones, working with heavy machinery and heavier materials that can cause significant damage if not handled with care. All that while often working under conditions of high pressure, struggling to adhere to deadlines amidst all the things that typically go wrong on a construction site, with equipment that may turn defective at a moment’s notice.
Whether your construction site operates in a way that’s efficient and beautiful, run by people who mind safety and stick to regulations, or whether a bulldog with a clipboard whose only concern is getting things done now runs it, keeping the most common causes of construction accidents in mind may save your neck while working onsite. You can always file a court case if your site operator turns out to be negligent, but even the money you get from the ensuing settlement won’t necessarily fix the damage that’s been done to you if you aren’t careful onsite.
So without further ado, here are some of the most common causes of construction accidents.
Falls From a Great Height
If operating a ladder that goes up to a significant height, make sure you have someone spotting you from the bottom as you ascend, and make sure that the support rung is firmly locked into place. While working on scaffolding, make sure to be mindful of where you step, as well as any objects on the floor that may present a tripping hazard.
Likewise, also try to be mindful of what’s going on above you. The number of people injured by debris falling from something going on above them is too much to count, as it can happen without warning on even the safest construction sites. However, the chances are you won’t always be able to keep your eyes on the sky, so wear the mandated personal protective equipment to protect your noggin from any unexpected surprises.
Lack of Training
Before you so much as pick up a power tool, you should make sure that you are trained on how to do your job properly. Unlike a retail job, where managers seem happy to shove you onto the front lines with little-to-no training and tell you to work it out, a lack of training on a construction site can be fatal. Make sure that you get the base level of training required by law to do whatever will be asked of you on-site, and if you are not trained to use a specific machine, DO NOT TOUCH IT. You might wind up using the machine improperly, breaking it and rendering it defective, and that’s the best case: worst case, you mess up so badly you lose a limb.
If you see it, say it. If any machine is not working as intended, from your power tools to your heavy machines, tell your supervisor immediately and do not use the defective device for anything else. This also goes for if you notice a device has been tampered with, seeing that safety guards have been removed or that the device has been modified in a potentially unsafe fashion; submit that tool to your supervisor and wait for a replacement. Whatever work may be put off is not worth the injury you may sustain from using a defective piece of equipment.
When it comes to construction, there are no happy accidents. Mind your surroundings, hold your team accountable for following the rules, and you’ll make your work a much safer place for everyone involved.