Why Construction Safety is Important
The construction industry is one of the most dangerous fields to work in. It is an industry where many workers are exposed to hazards on the jobsite daily. In fact, over 20% of all workplace deaths in private industry in America are in the construction industry. Because of this, it is important to have good construction safety practices. According to OSHA statistics, 2018 saw 1,008 construction worker fatalities. Many of these tragic fatalities are caused by what are known as construction’s “Fatal Four”.
The Fatal Four
Aside from highway collisions, these “Fatal Four” are responsible for almost 60% of all deaths in the construction industry. Greater awareness on the jobsite as well as better safety practices could prevent hundreds of deaths every year.
Construction work is often performed in high locations with a considerable drop. A fall from scaffolding, a ladder, or a rooftop can often mean death. Falls make up 33.5% of construction deaths. It is important for employers to have a good fall-prevention program in place for each unique jobsite.
Struck by an Object
The next leading cause of construction worker death is being struck by an object at 11.1%. This includes falling objects or building materials as well as suspended loads from cranes coming loose. In addition, being struck by heavy machinery in motion falls into this category. Because of these hazards, it is imperative that employees observe strict safety guidelines.
Electrocutions are responsible for 8.5% of construction worker deaths. Contact with power lines and other energized sources such as exposed wires or defective equipment can cause the human body to act as a conductor. Because of this, it is vital that workers stay alert when working around potential electrical hazards.
Caught in/between deaths account for 5.5% of construction fatalities and include workers being caught in or crushed by heavy equipment or objects. It also encompasses employees killed in collapsing structures. Employees should take care when in the vicinity of or operating heavy machinery. In addition to this, having employees observing proper demolition safety etiquette is crucial.
Things to Consider and Prevention
Now that we have discussed the most common safety hazards, let’s talk about how to prevent them. It’s important to keep in mind that no two jobsites will be the same. Because of this, supervisors and employees alike should be well trained to adhere to the program. After all, if you have a safety program, but nobody follows it, it won’t do much good. Beyond having well trained employees, having a fresh set of eyes is always a good thing. Having regular worksite inspections and audits by a qualified safety professional is a great way to bolster construction site safety.
Safety for the Public
Keep in mind that construction workers aren’t the only people who could be in danger due to unsafe practices in a construction site. Many construction sites are in or around public areas. Because of this, it’s important to keep the safety of the general public in mind too. One example that we all experience often is road construction zones. If workers did not follow proper safety protocol such as putting up cones and signs as well as directing traffic, both the workers and motorists would be in a great deal of danger.
Getting started with a safety program may seem like a daunting task, but it doesn’t have to be. There are a few simple steps that you can begin doing today to make construction safety a part of your company culture. If you adopt and adhere to these principles, they are sure to take your a long way.
Make Safety Your Top Priority
Let your workers know that their safety is your top priority. Be diligent to keep your work zones incident free. It is good business practice and your employees and clients will appreciate it.
Set an Example
Make sure you always adhere to proper safety practices. The “do as I say, not as I do” approach is never a good way to inspire employees’ adherence to safety rules.
Safety training for employees is essential to establish a safe workplace. People cannot do what they have not learned to do. Having a workforce of employees who are trained and knowledgeable in proper safety practices is one of the best things you can do to protect everyone on the jobsite.
Make sure employees are able report potential hazards or unsafe practices without fear of any sort of retaliation. Allowing for anonymous reporting is a good way to do this.
Perform inspections of jobsites or hire a safety professional to perform regular inspections or audits. These inspections should not be a source of stress, dread, or a time for people to get in trouble. Rather use them as educational moments to help people learn and grow in their safety knowledge. This is a great way to continually reinforce and cement safe work practices for every employee on the jobsite.
Plan for Emergencies
Come up with plans for any foreseeable emergencies so that everyone knows what to do. A little preparation goes a long way. One example where this type of preparation can save lives is when dealing with confined spaces.
Always Strive to Improve
Regularly reassess and, when applicable, update your safety protocol. It is good to have a qualified safety professional review your plan to ensure that there is nothing you have missed.
The Bottom Line
Having good construction safety practices benefits everyone. For the business owner, it means less worker’s compensation claims and other loss associated with workplace injuries as well as a reputation as a professional company that cares for its employees and the community. For employees it means having a safer workplace and an employer that demonstrates regard for their wellbeing. For the public, it means that they are protected from construction hazards by proper signage and site boundaries.
We Can Help
Pro Safety & Rescue is here to help you establish a quality safety program that fits your needs. We offer a wide variety of construction safety solutions including on-site safety professionals, inspections and audits, safety training, behavior based safety, as well as writing and managing contractor safety programs. Contact us now to learn more.
Due to the high-risk nature of construction work, OSHA has a lot of useful information on this topic.
Below are a couple of useful resources that pertain to construction safety.