The hardhats and safety vests aren’t just for show: working on a construction site can be dangerous. Unfortunately, workers in the industry aren’t aware of the extent of hazards they face every day.
Accidents sometimes happen that result in injuries and fatalities. Awareness of the dangers is the first step toward avoiding such accidents and promoting a safe work environment.
Here are nine common construction site hazards and how you can do your part to help avoid them.
Slipping and tripping
Common causes of slipping and tripping on construction sites include uneven ground, wet surfaces, mud, disorganized work zones, gravel, poorly lit work zones, oil, wires, hoses, and faulty equipment.
Improperly handled debris is another common cause of slipping and tripping. If you’re a victim of debris accidents, then you should contact legal experts like these. Practicing alertness about where you step and clearing high-traffic areas can help you and your coworkers avoid trips and slips on the job.
An acoustic survey is one of the most efficient ways to measure construction noise levels and provide data that helps improve the safety of these sites.
Hazards of loud noise include hearing loss, tinnitus (ringing in the ears), difficulty sleeping, and stress, to name just a few.
Workers exposed to these conditions for an extended period are likely to develop serious health problems. Hearing damage can become irreversible once it occurs, so you must listen to regulations regarding noise protection. If the noise level tops eighty-five decibels, all personnel should wear protective headphones.
Moving machinery and objects
Being struck by a vehicle or piece of equipment, such as a forklift, is a common cause of injury and fatality on construction sites.
If you’re using any large machinery, take care to ensure that passing foot traffic will have enough room to move around the area safely.
Workers need to stay a safe distance from all moving objects, including vehicles that move slowly. When moving about the site, don’t forget to wear your visibility aids, such as fluorescent jackets.
Working at height
Falling from great heights is one of the most common causes of injury and fatality on construction sites.
When working at height, it’s essential to use proper fall protection equipment like guardrails and harnesses. If you’re using ladders, scaffolding, or other equipment to access high areas, ensure the equipment is in good working condition and rated for the weight of the person climbing.
Follow OSHA’s guidelines regarding height work at all times. All workers must receive the proper training that helps them understand how to work safely at height.
Airborne and material exposure
Toxic materials that can lead to severe respiratory problems are unfortunately common on job sites. Some of these dangerous materials include asbestos, lead, and mold.
There are several other hazardous materials that you should be aware of as well. These include cement dust, silica, pesticides, fertilizers (which can cause serious illness if ingested), and flammable or explosive chemicals.
If you suspect your construction site may contain any of these hazards, consult an expert before working with or around the materials.
The last thing you want is for workers to become ill due to exposure. Unfortunately, workers who suffer toxic exposure might develop problems that don’t show up for varying lengths of time. This delay often becomes a cause for construction company lawsuits as workers must now deal with long-term health problems. When it comes to toxins and biohazards, it’s always better safe than sorry.
Workers can burn themselves or others if they’re not careful around hazardous tools, equipment, and substances. These include molten metal, welding tools, caustic chemicals (including cement), lasers, batteries, and acids.
Always use personal protective equipment like gloves or fireproof clothing, which will provide the needed protection for workers to avoid burn injuries on construction sites.
Electrocution is one of the most common causes of death on construction sites, primarily because many workers aren’t aware that they’re working near power lines. It’s easy not to notice the danger since electrical equipment often looks like any other piece of standard, non-hazardous equipment.
Always work with another person and remain aware of your surroundings. You must know precisely where any power lines exist and don’t allow yourself to come into contact with them.
If you’re working with electrical equipment, then take care to turn the circuit breaker off before plugging any cords or extension cords into outlets or machinery.
As an added safety measure, don’t operate electrical equipment when you’re in contact with wet surfaces or standing in water.
Injuries caused by vibration
Heavy construction equipment that vibrates can leave workers vulnerable to serious medical problems like lower back pain, speech modulation, nervous system issues, and altered body movements.
When digging deep trenches, always support the walls and roof of that area with timbers to prevent the channel from collapsing. If timbers aren’t available, then you can use shoring boards or metal sheeting instead. To protect workers’ feet, wear high-topped boots in wet trench situations.
Hazards are inevitable on a construction site, but that doesn’t mean that accidents have to be. Using your awareness of these nine common hazards, you can promote a safety-first worksite. Be careful, and don’t forget your hard hat.
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