You follow OSHA standards, you do team safety trainings once a quarter, and you pride yourself on the safe environment you provide employees. We commend you. Unfortunately, though, accidents do happen no matter how hard you try to stop them. To keep you always prepared in case of an accidental emergency, here’s a quick list of the most common construction safety hazards you could encounter on a jobsite, and what it could mean for your business.
- Material handling: Heavy materials don’t move themselves, which means you need employees to be trained in using the equipment that moves them. Not having proper training for those employees has two big implications for your business. The first, you could get in serious trouble with OSHA. The second, mishandling equipment could lead to dropping materials on passersby or potentially running over other important materials or equipment.
- Noise: As you know, many of the tools you use in construction are loud, and excessive exposure to those loud noises could cause eardrum impairment. Without having proper gear to protect your workers’ ears, you are looking at unintended accidents and they’ll end up with some long-term damage.
- Asbestos: As your team starts on demo day, if they are working on an older building or home, it’s entirely possible they could come across asbestos. The EPA reports that exposure to asbestos can cause lung cancer and mesothelioma. They write “Asbestos is a serious progressive, long-term, non-cancer disease of the lungs.” Don’t expose your team to that – make sure you always have the proper body suits to protect against it.
- Working at heights: Of all the construction safety hazards, this is probably the #1 most important to be aware of. In fact, OSHA reports that in 2016, 38% of construction fatalities were due to falls from great heights. Prepare your team with harnesses or scaffolds to protect in the event of a fall, but also train them on how to work safely at high heights.
- Slips and falls: You don’t have to be working in the air to fall. With holes being dug everywhere and wires scattered around, workers can easily trip. While these types of accidents would unlikely be fatal, it would still have an impact on your business when those employees break a bone or are unable to work for a period of time. Make sure your team is cognizant at all time and keeps an organized work environment.
- Excessive power tool usage: Using power tools is part of the job, but over using them can cause a condition called hand arm vibration syndrome. This syndrome causes a debilitating disease of the blood vessels, nerves, and joints. While there isn’t much you can do in way of gear protection, you can encourage your workers to take frequent breaks, change the position they hold the equipment during use, and try to keep warm.
- Collapse: Having new structures be designed and checked by an engineer is crucial when there’s a threat of collapse. Every year, construction workers are injured or die due to trenches collapsing or newly built walls coming down. Always have your sites inspected and never cut corners.
- Electricity: We know that saving on costs is a big deal in the construction industry, but when it comes to electrical work, here’s our advice: Hire a licensed electrician. Electrocutions are completely avoidable when there is a trained, experienced person doing the job. You don’t want anyone on your team taking a stab at doing electrical work and then getting hurt as a result.
As you read through this list of construction safety hazards, remember why OSHA regulations are in place and why you practice them. You can’t always stop accidents in their tracks – that’s why they are called accidents – but at least you have some insight on what to do to prevent the next one.