Construction work is vital for the growth and development of the country, but it comes with inherent risks and dangers. Despite safety regulations, new technology and new techniques, accidents in the construction industry are still fairly common.
In this article, we’ll review the most common types of construction site accidents that occur and the types of injuries they might lead to.
Falls are one of the most prevalent construction accidents that lead to workers being injured. Some of the most common reasons for building site falls include improper use of scaffolding, lack of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE), damaged ladders or inadequate training while working at height.
Construction workers can suffer broken bones, head injuries or even fatalities from falls. According to the Health and Safety Executive (PDF file) in the UK, falls from height remain one of the leading causes of workplace fatalities in the construction industry.
Preventing Falls On Building Sites
Employers must ensure proper training for all workers (including contractors) involved in tasks where working at height is necessary. Regular inspection of safety equipment such as harnesses, safety rails and ladders is crucial to identify any signs of wear or damage. Adherence to relevant safety guidelines, such as the Work at Height Regulations 2005, is essential in minimising the risk of falls on construction sites.
Struck By Moving Objects
Workers can be seriously injured when hit or struck by moving machinery, falling tools or loose debris. These incidents often occur due to inadequate storage of materials, lack of safety barriers or negligent operation of heavy equipment. The HSE identifies being struck by moving vehicles and objects as one of the top causes of fatal injuries in construction. Where construction is carried out in public places, there is also a risk of injury for members of the public. For example, to try and prevent injuries from scaffolding when it’s located on a public road, items should not be thrown or dropped to the floor.
Preventing Struck By Moving Object Accidents On Construction Sites
Construction sites should enforce clear zones around moving machinery and equipment. Also, warning signs and signals must be used to alert workers to potential hazards. Where needed, Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) such as helmets, high-visibility clothing, and steel-toed boots, should be provided and worn by all workers.
Electrical hazards are ever-present on construction sites, and can lead to serious injuries and fatalities if health and safety regulations are ignored. Workers may come into contact with live wires, faulty electrical systems or inadequate grounding. Electric shocks at work and eocutions are not only a significant risk for electricians but also for workers in other trades who might encounter live electrical components during their tasks.
Preventing Electrocutions On Building Sites
Adherence to proper lockout/tagout procedures, regular inspections and maintenance of electrical systems can significantly reduce the risk of electrocutions at work. Also, all workers should be trained to identify electrical hazards and take appropriate precautions when working around electricity.
Crushing Or Trapping Accidents
Being trapped or crushed by heavy machinery, equipment or structures can lead to severe injuries and fatalities. Excavation and trenching work present specific risks, as cave-ins can occur suddenly and without warning. Construction workers in confined spaces are also at risk of being crushed.
How To Prevent Crushing And Trapping Accidents
Site managers must emphasise proper communication and coordination between workers operating heavy machinery to help prevent crushing, trapping and caught-i- between accidents on construction site. Safety devices like trench boxes should be used during excavation work. Before starting any construction project, a thorough risk assessment should be conducted to identify potential trapping or crushing risks and implement appropriate measures to try and reduce the risk of injury.
Repetitive Strain Injuries (RSIs)
Construction work often involves repetitive tasks, leading to RSIs like carpal tunnel syndrome, bursitis, trigger finger and tendonitis. Workers engaged in activities such as using hand tools, lifting, and carrying heavy loads are particularly susceptible to these injuries.
Preventing RSIs On Construction sites
Employers should encourage frequent breaks to allow workers to rest and recover from repetitive tasks. Providing ergonomic tools and protective equipment can also help reduce the risk of RSIs at work so these should be considered. Training workers on proper body mechanics and posture can further minimise the likelihood of developing these injuries.
Hand-Arm Vibration Syndrome (HAVS)
Workers using vibrating tools like jackhammers, angle grinders, concrete breakers and drills may develop HAVS, causing numbness, tingling and loss of dexterity in the hands and arms. Prolonged exposure to hand-arm vibration can lead to permanent damage and a decrease in the quality of life for affected workers.
Reducing The Risk Of HAVS On Building Sites
Regular equipment maintenance and calibration are essential to ensure that vibrating tools operate at safe levels. Employers should provide anti-vibration or low-vibration tools wherever possible, allow plenty of rest breaks and rotate workers’ roles to try and minimise prolonged exposure to hand-arm vibration.
There is more advice on how to work to reduce the risk of HAVS on the HSE website.
Slips, Trips, And Falls
Uneven surfaces, wet floors and cluttered walkways contribute to slips, trips, and falls on construction sites. These seemingly minor accidents can result in serious injuries, including broken bones, sprains, workplace back injuries and concussions. These types of accidents can result in workers requiring multiple days or weeks away from work to recover.
Preventing Slips, Trips, And Falls On Building Sites
Building sites should be kept as well organised as possible. Building materials should be stacked safely and in areas away from walkways wherever possible. Suitable lighting should be installed in areas where trip hazards are hidden and warning signs should be used to highlight wet or slippery surfaces.
More information can be found here on how to prevent slips, trips and falls at work.
Manual Handling Injuries
Lifting, pushing, and carrying heavy objects can cause overexertion injuries, such as strains, sprains and hernias. These types of manual handling injuries are completely avoidable but, due to the physical nature of construction work, are far too common.
Preventing Building Site Manual Handling Injuries
Where it is possible to do so, site managers should use mechanical aids like hoists and cranes to assist with lifting heavy or awkward loads. If manual handling is required, workers should be trained on safe lifting techniques and encouraged to use proper body mechanics when performing physically demanding tasks.
Reporting Construction Injuries
Building site operators have a legal duty to report some construction injuries and keep records of others. Generally, the following must all be reported under the Reporting of Injuries, Diseases and Dangerous Occurrences Regulations 2013 (RIDDOR):
- Accidents that result in a fatality.
- Certain specified injuries to workers.
- Dangerous occurrences.
- Accidents that lead to hospital treatment for non-workers.
These types of accidents must be reported by the site’s ‘responsible person’ to the HSE within 10 days of the incident. Failure to do so is a criminal offence.
For less serious construction injuries, employers must keep records of the accident in an accident report book. This should detail the name of the injured party, date, time location and details about the accident and any injuries sustained.
Staff have a duty to report all construction injuries to the site manager or the health and safety rep.
What To Do If You’re Injured On A Building Site
Unfortunately, accidents in the construction industry are still common. While some can’t be avoided, you may be eligible to claim compensation if your employer’s negligence caused your accident. Therefore, following a construction site accident, you should:
- Report the accident so that it is documented in the site’s accident report book.
- Visit your GP or a hospital to have your injuries diagnosed and treated properly.
- Take photos of any visible injuries and the scene of the accident.
- Ask any witnesses to your accident for their contact details.
- Request a copy of any CCTV footage of your accident if the building site was covered by security cameras.
- Keep records of any expenses you’ve incurred because of your injuries.
If you are worried about being injured on a building site, you should raise your concerns with your employer at the earliest opportunity. By doing so, you’ll give them the opportunity to try and put things right before an accident occurs.
Safety should be the top priority on construction sites to prevent common injuries and protect workers from harm. By implementing proper training, adhering to safety regulations, using appropriate safety equipment and conducting regular inspections, construction companies can create a safer work environment for their employees.
Ultimately, investing in safety measures not only protects the well-being of workers but also enhances productivity and minimises financial losses arising from accidents on construction sites. The construction industry must continue to strive for improved safety practices and vigilance to ensure that workers return home safely after each day’s work.
If you have suffered a construction injury and believe it was caused by your employer’s negligence, you can call 0800 6524 881 to have your case assessed by a specialist. If you have a valid personal injury claim, one of our specialist solicitors could manage your claim on a No Win No Fee basis.