Construction is one of the most dangerous industries. The latest numbers from the Bureau of Labor Statistics show that one out of every five worker deaths occurred due to construction accidents. Almost 60% of the construction deaths in 2017, over 580, were due to just four hazards, reports the Occupational Safety and Health Administration.
Here are the “Fatal Four” according to OSHA.
By far the most common accident, falls caused almost 40% of the worker deaths in 2017. Roofs, scaffolds, ladders and trenches create falling hazards on most construction sites, but it is possible to eliminate all of these risks.
During inspections, OSHA handed out more citations for lack of adequate fall protection than any other violation. Scaffolding and ladder infractions and lack of fall protection training were also among the most common citations.
- Struck-by accidents
Construction vehicles and machinery now include safety features that address operating hazards, but dozens of workers still die each year when struck by heavy equipment. Falling, flying, rolling and swinging objects also strike and kill construction workers each year.
With training, all workers should know to wear the appropriate personal protective equipment; operate tools, vehicles and heavy equipment according to safety protocol; and identify potential hazards and address them before beginning each task.
Buried and overhead power lines cause numerous worker deaths each year, and so do improperly grounded tools, damaged electrical cords and other sources of electricity.
When a worker receives an electrical shock, the current can cause first-, second- and third-degree burns, as well as severe muscle contractions, loss of consciousness, seizures and cardiac arrest. The harm may not be immediately evident; complications could later crop up due to damage to the nerves, kidneys and heart.
- Caught-in or caught-between
Trench, equipment and structure collapses, backing vehicles, and machine accidents are major causes of objects fatally crushing workers. Trench cave-ins are particularly hazardous: a single cubic yard of soil may be as heavy as a car.
The responsibility for construction worker safety begins with management, but workers should also watch out for each other and act responsibly for their own well-being.