America’s landscape is changing. While natural disasters are partially responsible for the transformations taking place, manmade alterations are primary factors here as well. New homes and commercial buildings are continually going up across the nation. Though progress is necessary, it often comes at a price for those on the ground fostering those construction projects.
Looking at the Numbers
According to a 2016 report from OSHA, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, more than 20 percent of that year’s private-sector worker fatalities occurred in the construction industry. In other words, about one in five work-related deaths was the result of a construction site hazard during that year. This amounts to a higher percentage rate per number of people employed than any other field.
What Are the 4 Biggest Dangers for Construction Workers?
Construction workers, and even members of the general public trespassing on project sites, can potentially be exposed to a wide range of hazards. From falling tools to improperly marked trenches, any number of dangers are found in these areas; however, OSHA has identified four as the most common.
Falling from dangerous heights is the most significant cause of deaths and injuries within the construction sector. According to the previously mentioned write-up from OSHA, this accounted for almost 40 percent of fatalities during 2016. OSHA and accident attorneys alike cite lack of proper safety training and failure to follow standard worker protection guidelines as the primary factors in these types of incidents.
2. Struck by falling or flying objects
Falling objects are the second most dangerous issue at construction sites based on the 2016 OSHA report with just over eight percent of on-site deaths and thousands of injuries being a result of this problem. Even something as seemingly harmless as a standard battery-powered drill can generate enough force to deliver a fatal blow when dropped from a height of as little as 10 feet.
Live electrical circuits, improperly grounded power tools and run-ins with overhead power lines are typical hazards leading to electrocution on construction sites. Death and severe burns from electrical explosions are also common among those working with electricity. Numerous reports across a wide range of industries point out thorough training and due caution go a long way toward preventing these types of injuries.
4. Caught or crushed in machinery
As one of the broadest categories of construction injuries, this one includes workers caught in or crushed by vehicles and equipment. It also encompasses those trapped in collapsing buildings or under heavy machinery like cranes, forklifts and bulldozers. Numerous construction workers are likewise injured or killed when caught under or between heavy construction materials.
These dangers have been deemed Construction’s “Fatal Four” due to their highly common and often fatal nature; of course, they’re not the only hazards associated with the industry. Collaborative reports from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and other agencies point to an increased risk of developing long-term health issues among construction workers. These include heart disease, COPD, arthritis, cancers and a wide range of other conditions due to on-the-job exposure to potentially harmful substances.
While a long list of hazards can be found on construction sites, many of them are avoidable. Countless details factor into the equation, but in many cases, these issues and their impacts boil down to negligence.
Failure to properly mark work zones, lack of appropriate attention to on-site safety measures, inadequate training, and unnecessary exposure to dangerous substances are only a few of the risks plaguing the industry, all of which could easily be prevented.