The construction industry is the largest creator of summer jobs in the United States. Unfortunately, it is also one of the most dangerous industries nationwide. According to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), 19.3 percent of all worker deaths happened in construction in 2012.
While many different types of injuries and accidents can happen on a construction site, there are four primary causes of workplace deaths in construction. These include falls, being struck by objects, electrocutions, and being caught in or between objects. As the summer season approaches and construction workers get busy, our construction injury lawyers have some tips for construction workers to reduce the risks of these “fatal four.”
Tips for Preventing the “Fatal Four” Construction Injuries
As the Occupational Safety and Health Administration reports, falls accounted for 34.6 percent of construction industry deaths in 2012. In the state of Massachusetts, the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) indicates that seven out of 33 worker deaths in 2012 occurred in falls.
To prevent falls, OSHA recommends:
- Ensuring that personal fall protection systems, fall arrest systems and other personal protective gear is used.
- Covering all floor openings and holes with labeled covers.
- Ensuring ladders are of the appropriate height so standing on the top rung is never necessary. The ladder should be three feet above the landing point to ensure that workers have a place for their hands.
- Maintaining three points of contact with the ladder at all times.
Being struck by objects was the cause of 9.8 percent of deaths in the construction industry nationwide in 2012. In Massachusetts, contact with objects and equipment caused five fatalities. To prevent injuries from being caught between objects and equipment, workers should:
- Avoid getting in between a moving and fixed object.
- Wear brightly colored clothing when working around moving equipment in order to maximize visibility.
- Wear a hard hat when on a construction site.
Electrocutions were the cause of 8.1 percent of workplace deaths nationwide in 2012. To prevent injuries caused by electrocution, workers should:
- Identify the location of any overhead and underground wiring before beginning work.
- Leave a safe buffer zone around electrical wiring and utilities when using equipment or digging.
- Use double insulated or grounded tools only.
- Use ground fault circuit interrupters for all electrical hookups.
Finally, being caught in or between objects as the last of the fatal four causes of construction deaths and was responsible for 1.6 percent of fatalities in the industry. To prevent being caught in or between objects, workers should:
- Ensure machine guards are used on all equipment.
- Avoid loose-fitting clothing or jewelry that could become trapped in a machine.
- Avoid trenched and excavated areas unless the appropriate protective equipment is used and/or the excavated areas have a shield system or use benching and shoring so they do not cave in.
If workers and employers take active steps to prevent the top four causes of deaths on construction sites, hopefully the death toll in the construction industry will be low this summer and workers will make it safely through the prime construction season.
If you are injured on the job in Massachusetts, call the Law Offices of Jeffrey S. Glassman for a free and confidential consultation to discuss your workers’ compensation claim– 1-888-367-2900.
More Blog Entries:
Small Business Owners Mention Workplace Safety as a Top Concern, Feb. 27, 2014.