Construction sites are rife with all types of hazards, and because of the nature of the work and the heavy machinery used, severe injuries are still fairly common in the construction industry. Construction workers are at risk of suffering broken bones, fractures, and head and back injuries. Some construction accidents result in fatalities. It isn’t unusual for some of the work itself – heavy lifting, power equipment, and heavy industrial tools – to bring about hazards the average office worker never needs to worry about.
Being a construction worker can be a tough, dangerous job, so much so they are almost always listed among the top 10 most dangerous jobs in the world.
Here are some of the top safety hazards on construction sites with advice on how to avoid them. Although employers are required by law to put safety measures in place to protect their workers, all employees must take equal responsibility for their own safety.
Falls From Height
Falls from a height on construction sites are some of the most common – and avoidable – safety hazards many workers face. Unfortunately, falls don’t have to be from great heights to be fatal. A bad fall from a scaffolding accident is all it can take.
The fact is many falls could be avoided altogether if workers are provided with proper personal safety equipment, ensure that proper harnesses, scaffolding, and ladders are used and make sure the work surface is stable and free from obstacles.
How to minimise falls from height:
The use of a safety harness while working at any height above the ground is the single most effective way to protect against falls from height. Making sure that all higher surfaces are stable and free from any obstacles also helps to prevent falls.
Being Struck By Heavy Objects
Though necessary, the constant use of heavy machinery and vehicles on construction sites can be a hazard in itself. Being struck by an object still happens in these workplaces. The object could be the heavy equipment itself, a work vehicle, or an object being moved or repositioned via the equipment.
How to minimise the risk of getting struck by heavy objects:
Workers must be mindful and attentive, and always use caution and follow safety training procedures when working with or around heavy equipment. All employees should be properly trained on how to use and work on and around heavy equipment to avoid serious injury and death.
Being Hit By Moving Objects
Construction sites are ever-changing environments. Often materials and equipment must be moved from one location to another and back again so that the job can be completed in a timely manner and so that workers may be free to finish up other tasks on-site. Carelessness when moving materials can often result in workers getting caught in between two moving machines or between a moving machine and a solid stationary wall.
How to minimise the incidence of being hit by moving objects:
As always, remember your safety training and be mindful of where objects and equipment are when you are on a job site. Make sure you stand clear any time objects are being moved from one location to the next so you aren’t caught in between. Wear protective gear such as high-visibility jackets and hard hats, and make sure you have reflective tape on your clothing so you can be easily seen.
Collapsing trenches occur most often when a building is being demolished. Trenches may collapse when least expected, trapping or killing workers inside. The best way to avoid this type of incident is to make sure all trenches are secure and stable and make sure all necessary safety precautions are being followed.
How danger from collapsing trenches can be minimised:
Staying in constant communication via radio when working in these types of situations and relaying safety information as often as possible is the best way to minimise danger from collapsing trenches. Make sure trenches are stabilised and supported as much as possible.
Construction sites are noisy environments with several high-powered machines working on location at the same time. While this is unavoidable there are things you can do to protect your hearing and minimise noise-related injuries.
How noise-related injuries can be minimised:
Wearing protective earplugs is mandatory on construction sites, especially if you are working on an extremely noisy site. Be mindful of all safety training, as always, and be sure to stand clear any time you are on a site in which explosives may be employed.
Hand-Arm Vibration Syndrome
Often referred to as HAVS, Hand-Arm Vibration Syndrome can be debilitating for those who suffer from it. The feeling is similar to that of carpal tunnel syndrome, but the end result may be catastrophic if not treated in time. It happens when a worker uses many vibratory power tools or does a lot of groundwork with vibratory power tools.
How hand-arm vibration syndrome can be prevented:
HAVS can best be avoided by using proper safety equipment and seeing your doctor immediately when you begin to feel any tingling or numbness in your hands or wrists when you aren’t using the equipment. If you suffer HAVS and believe an employer is at fault you may like to refer to our HAVS compensation claims page.
Exposed electrical wiring lying around carelessly can result in electrocution. The fact that water sources are often in close proximity to electrical wiring increases the risk tremendously.
How the risk of electrocution can be minimised:
Always follow training and safety precautions when working in and around electricity and doing electrical work. Wear protective eyewear and gloves, and always stand clear when electrical currents are being tested or wires are exposed. Never be in a hurry when electricity is being tested or being cut off, and make sure you follow all safety precautions when working with or around electrical wiring.
Exposure To Airborne Fibres And Materials
Construction sites can be dusty and even dirty places. Inhaling dust particles can cause damage to the lungs and the respiratory system. When dust particles contain hazardous materials, the damage done is even more severe.
How exposure to airborne fibres and materials can be minimised:
All workers on construction sites are supposed to be provided with safety equipment such as face masks and eye protection. If your employer has not provided you with the necessary equipment, you should ask for it. If the equipment has been provided to you, you must make it a point to wear it when you are on site.
Safety precautions and safety training are a must when working in any type of construction. Be aware of the safety precautions, and use your safety training every day to make sure you stay safe on the job.