Top Ways to Improve Safety on Construction Sites
The top four construction site accidents
Construction site deaths are an all too common fact of life for contractors, with three construction workers dying every day in the United States. Almost all of these are caused by the Fatal Four – the top four causes of construction site deaths, which account for about 63% of the annual fatalities. Eliminating the Fatal Four would save over six hundred lives, according to BLS.
- Accidental falls – 384 out of 991 total deaths in construction in CY 2016 (38.7%)
- Struck by object – 93 (9.4%)
- Electrocutions – 82 (8.3%)
- Caught-in/between equipment or objects – 72 (7.3%)
Luckily, there are ways to prevent these deaths, and most of these solutions are as simple as being OSHA compliant.
Falls account for almost four hundred annual construction site fatalities in the United States. These injuries and deaths are caused by accidental falls from elevated workstations and overhead platforms, or into holes. In order to prevent these deaths and injuries, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration has provided outlines for what employers must due to prevent employees from falling.
- Guard every floor hole into which a worker can accidentally walk using a railing and toe-board or a floor hole cover.
- Provide a guardrail and toe-board around every elevated open sided platform, floor, or runway.
- Regardless of height, if a worker can fall into or onto dangerous machines or equipment employers must provide guardrails and toe-boards.
- Other means of fall protection: safety harness and line, safety nets, stair railings, and handrails.
These guidelines are accompanied by the requirements that employers provide a workplace free of known dangers, keep floors in a clean and dry condition, provide protective equipment, and train workers about hazardous conditions.
Reducing struck-by hazards
OSHA provides extensive outlines for protecting workers from being struck by objects such as heavy equipment and motor vehicles in the workplace. Their requirements include barriers, manufacturer compliance, maintained roadways, legible traffic signs, effective worker training, etc. Some of these may seem like common sense, but almost a hundred workers die annually from being struck by machinery or vehicles.
Another novel way of reducing struck-by hazards is by going mini. Smaller machines like a mini-excavator and a mini skid steer are significantly smaller than their typical counterparts. Their smaller stature reduces the risk of causing serious damage should a collision occur.
There are dozens of possible solutions to the issue of workplace electrocution – a problem that claims over eighty lives annually. Examples of solutions include:
- The use of insulation
- Using electrical protective devices
- Training employees in emergency medical care
- Safe work practices
These regulations can prevent accidental electrocution and lower the number of annual fatalities in construction.
Preventing caught-in/between hazards
Many of the methods of keeping workers from getting caught in or between objects/equipment are the same as those used to reduce struck-by hazards; Barriers, manufacturer compliance, signs, worker training and so forth. OSHA also provides additional regulations for preventing more extreme injuries. These regulations all focus on protecting employees from the dangerous machines they use.
A more direct solution may instead be to reduce the danger that these machines pose. As mentioned before, miniature equipment is small enough that they pose little risk of causing injuries through collision. This also applies to caught-between hazards, which would be minimal when working with machines shorter than the average person.
These minis are also remotely controlled. This means that, should a hazardous situation arise, the machines can easily be shut down, preventing excessive injury to employees. If a worker’s hand were to be caught in a moving part, it would be as simple as pressing a button to shut down the equipment.
Other mini benefits
An additional benefit of using miniature equipment is that they are battery-powered and run off simple wall sockets. This reduces the risk of fires by removing traditional fuels from the workplace and reduces the amount of exhaust being spilled into the air, which can be hazardous to inhale.
Another hazard that employees face comes from heavy lifting; The subsequent back and leg injuries can be prevented through the use of a battery-powered wheelbarrow, which would minimize the amount that workers have to haul themselves.
These benefits may seem small on their own, but collectively they can reduce the risk of violent death in the workplace, at little cost to the employer. The mini skid steer, for example, can pay for itself in forty days of use while reducing your site’s injury risk.