Running your construction business requires a lot of moving parts. You have to worry about all sorts of things, including headcount and payroll, budgets and bids, training, and safety. How high does construction injury prevention rank in the list?
While headcount and bidding on jobs keeps the business moving, construction injury prevention plays an important role in sustainability.
The facts around construction injuries
Injuries on the job are almost unavoidable in the construction world. When you have people working with their hands, on their feet for multiple hours a day, heavy machinery, and dangerous equipment, injuries are bound to happen. That’s why OSHA has safety standards; to hold companies accountable for workplace injuries and prevent them.
Sometimes, though, it’s hard to really grasp the reality around construction injuries. Here’s a snapshot.
In 2015, 38.8% of workplace fatalities were due to falls; 9.6% were due to being struck by an object; 8.6% due to electrocutions; and 7.2% caught in or between an object.
Besides fatalities, which is the worst case for any company, the most common, lesser extreme construction injuries are:
- Eye injuries
- Broken bones
- Body part injury (knees, ankles, legs, etc.)
- Spinal cord injury
- Illnesses caused by toxic chemical exposure
- Head and/or brain injury.
What do all of these injuries add up to? Besides being down in manpower, you could also be looking at a lot of payouts. On average, U.S. employers pay $15 billion in overexertion compensation annually, with construction workers being one of the most common to sustain these types of injuries.
While OSHA standards, training, and protective gear are designed to prevent against injury and death, there are some other safety options making their way to the scene. One of those is construction exoskeletons.
Exoskeletons and Construction Injury Prevention
Constructible explains exoskeletons as metal frameworks that somewhat mirror the wearer’s internal skeletal structure and multiply their strength with “motorized muscles”.
The point of these suits are to make lifted objects appear lighter, improving safety and enhancing the user’s ability to do their job.
There’s been a significant amount of research and development on these suits over the years; so much so that we are able to point out which type of suits would be most beneficial to the construction industry. If you’re interested in exploring an exoskeleton suit at your company, these are good options to start with.
- Crouching/standing support: Otherwise known as “chairless chairs”, these exoskeletons are designed to support workers for those long hours standing or crouching for long periods of time, like during a framing job. These specific suits support the knees and reduce pressure on the rest of the leg.
- Back support: These help reduce the pressure on back muscles and help to reduce injuries directly related to heavy lifting. It also helps to maintain good posture which lowers the risk of sustaining those injuries.
- Tool-holding exoskeletons: This one isn’t a device worn on the body, but is just more added support for a construction worker. They place their hand at its end with the purpose of having help “using heavy hand-tools quickly so they can complete jobs fast, with less fatigue, and better workmanship.”
- Arm support: A more advanced exoskeleton than the above, this suit is designed to help alleviate the constant strain of lifting heavy tools above waist level. It provides upper arm and shoulder support to make tools feel lighter and easier for the worker to handle.
- Full body suit: Think all of the above combined into one. All together, these suits provide extra support and strength for the user, making them less prone to injuries on the job.
With prices dropping on these suits, they are becoming increasingly popular and more available for many construction firms. Will yours be next?