According to a report released in December of 2016 by the Bureau of Labor Statistics, 4,379 private industry worker fatalities occurred in the 2015 calendar year. These industries include jobs in industries such as transportation, farming, fishing, forestry, and truck drivers, among others. Of those injuries, 21.4% were in construction. That’s one in five workers!
The Fatal Four
The “fatal four” in the construction injury represents the four leading causes of fatalities. They are responsible for more than half of the construction worker deaths in 2015. They include:
- Falls (38.8%);
- Struck by an object (9.6%);
- Electrocution (8.6%);
- Caught in/between (7.2%) (This includes fatalities due to being caught-in or compressed by equipment or objects, and struck, caught, or crushed in collapsing structure, equipment, or material).
Injuries and fatalities to contract workers are on the rise. Why?
- Because many contract workers are thrown into dangerous jobs without the health and safety training that a regular employee would get.
- They may not be fully or properly trained in the use of machinery and equipment.
- Being unable to identify unsafe or improperly maintained workstations, buildings, or equipment can create risks for those unfamiliar with related hazards.
Other reasons for construction site injuries include:
- Rush jobs. There may be pressure to finish a job quickly, which may result in forgoing safety protocol in favor of completing the work.
- Most work accidents occur after lunch indicating that concentration levels are better earlier in the day. It would then make sense to switch to lower risk tasks when brains and bodies are tiring.
- Unsafe behavior by the worker. Misusing or improperly using equipment, or not wearing appropriate safety gear for example, can lead to injuries.
Top Ten Citations
OSHA sets the standard to which employers and workers need to comply. Sadly, protocol is often ignored. The top ten OSHA standards included in citations are:
- Fall protection (scope, application, definitions)
- Excavations (general requirements)
- Head protection
- Excavations (requirements for protective systems)
- Hazard communication
- Fall protection (training requirements)
- Construction (general safety and health provisions)
- Electrical (wiring methods, design and protection)
It’s obvious that the disregard of OSHA standards directly impacts construction workers’ “fatal four” injuries. OSHA has specific advice for preventing construction accidents, but here’s also a few universal safety measures that can also be implemented.
- Mandatory Daily Safety Meetings. Keep management and workers on the same page where safety is concerned.
- Safety Gear. Every employee should be trained about safety gear usage – which gear for which task. Safety gear should be a requirement, not a choice. Gear should also be examined routinely to check for damage and wear.
- High Visibility Clothing. Wearing something like orange vests with reflective material will reduce chances getting hit by vehicles and other machinery.
- Regular Breaks. Taking breaks will help reduce accidents due to exhaustion.
Construction site injuries can be prevented. Be safe while you’re on the job, whether you’re in a management or labor position. It’s also good to know how you’re covered, if at all. This especially applies to contract workers. You don’t want to get injured on the job, only to discover you have no means to cover medical bills and lost wages.
If you are injured on the job and need advice, give me a call. I’d be happy to discuss your rights with you.