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The Top 5 Causes of Construction Accidents and How to Prevent Them

Posted by EHS Insight Resources on November 28, 2018 at 9:59 AM

Even the most diligent construction companies can still be at risk for a major accident. Construction accidents don’t just happen on their own, either. It’s usually the result of a series of events that ultimately led to the incident.

Let’s explore some of the most common types of construction accidents and how you can work to prevent them.

#1 – Falls

Not too surprisingly, falls pose one of the greatest risks to construction sites. This is traditionally the leading cause of construction site worker deaths each year, with 991 fatalities in just 2016.

Proper fall protection isn’t always in place at construction sites. Poor scaffolding safety also poses a hefty risk, with issues in scaffolding construction being a top contributor to fall hazards.

It’s up to employers to protect their workers and contractors on the job. Investing in fall protection gear (e.g. harnesses), adding toe rails around open platforms, installing handrails, and requiring personal protective gear can all help to mitigate fall risk.

#2 – Slips and Trips

One of the major culprits of all workplace accidents is a major danger on construction sites. There are myriad opportunities for holes, equipment, uneven ground, or weather conditions to increase the risk of a slip or trip. Even with safety training and proper precautions, slips and falls can easily occur. Make sure workers are aware of the potential hazards on the job. Emphasizing caution, marking slip and trip hazards, and encouraging workers to remain vigilant while on the job can help to reduce risk.

#3 – Electrocutions

One of the top four leading causes of workplace fatalities is electrocution. In 2016 alone, there were 82 electrocution deaths, which accounted for over 8% of all workplace fatalities. Though this number has historically been higher (over 300 related deaths and thousands of injuries in 2014), electrocution remains a real threat to construction site workers.

Though the causes of electrocution can vary, many of these incidents can be prevented by taking the proper precautions. Providing construction safety training and quality personal protective equipment (PPE) can both be effective tools in mitigating electrocution risk. Make sure employees recognize that wearing PPE is a requirement, not an option.

#4 – Struck by an Object

Another of the Fatal Four causes of workplace death, objects striking workers caused nearly 100 deaths in 2016, accounting for almost 10% of all workplace deaths for the year. Objects being dropped from up high, flying debris, suspended loads coming loose, and swinging or rolling loads all fall under this category. When any of these scenarios occur, it catches workers off-guard. They don’t have time to react to get themselves to safety. Many of them never know what hits them.

In order to combat this threat, make sure each worker is equipped with the right protective gear when using power tools (e.g. face mask, eyewear, etc). Take time to secure all tools and machinery. Wear hard hats around the construction area, even when you think work isn’t being performed. Never stand under a suspended load. And most importantly, make sure you remain visible on the construction site so that machine operators and other workers know you’re there.

#5 – Getting Caught or Crushed

Also known as “caught in between”, this type of construction accident caused over 70 deaths in 2016 alone. These accidents are when a worker’s body becomes caught, squeezed, or crushed in between two objects. Construction equipment rollovers and unguarded machines can contribute to caught-in-between cases.

To combat this risk, make sure no machine is left unattended. Only authorized operators should be allowed to use the machine or equipment. Make sure your team is familiarized with any potential crush points or other moving parts that can pull them into danger. Use proper lockout/tagout procedures when working on machines or equipment to prevent surprise startups. Also, pay attention to your workers’ clothing and appearance. Loose shirts, jewelry, and long hair can easily get caught in a moving machine.

Construction Accidents Can Be Prevented

When a construction site worker becomes injured in an accident, it not only affects their life and livelihood, but also the future of the company. Construction accidents are largely preventable and companies should take every possible precaution to do their part in training, educating, and protecting their employees.

For more insight and inspiration on how to improve your construction safety program, download our eBook: 5 Ways to Strengthen Your Safety Culture.

Topics: Building Materials & Construction, Safety Management, Incident Management, Training Management, OSHA

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