The construction industry contributes massively to any country's economic growth. As per the survey, the construction industry contributes 4.10% of the US GDP annually.
Construction sites involve perilous activities, heavy machinery, and many workers; therefore, construction site safety is crucial. As per an estimate, 250 incidents per 10,000 full-time construction employees suffered an injury at the construction site. Injuries occurring at a construction site can lead to severe casualties and mortalities. Some common injuries sustained by construction workers are first, according to OSHA, falls are the leading cause of fatalities in the construction sector each year.
While falls can occur in various scenarios, they mainly occur when workers utilize ladders. In the construction business, ladder falls cause an estimated 24,882 injuries and 36 fatalities per year. It may be due to the use of a ladder inappropriate for a specific task, inadequate ladder safety training or faulty structure of the ladder, etc. Secondly, OSHA claims that slips and trips due to treads of stairways being covered in hazardous materials, garbage, or objects can lead to minor injuries such as sprains and strains to major injuries like hip bone fracture and head traumas. Another common injury includes superficial and deep burns, which may occur due to an arc or a flash when welding, thermal contact when handling hot objects, and chemical burns induced by exposure to dangerous compounds.
Construction sites also expose workers to many hazardous chemicals such as lead, asbestos, chromium, silica, cadmium, etc., which leads to severe pathological conditions such as pneumoconiosis, lead poisoning, GIT cancer, and dental damage. Finally, prolonged exposure to a boisterous environment leads to permanent hearing loss or partial deafness in many workers. For example, according to OSHA, consistent, eight-hour exposure to noise levels above 85 decibels can harm your hearing. Likewise, one hour a day of exposure to 100 dB or louder noises can result in hearing loss.
Construction site safety not only safeguards workers' lives but is also essential for the protection of the general public. Many construction sites are located in the middle of a busy city with people passing by all the time. Insufficient and obsolete safety measures can lead to disastrous incidents for workers and the general public.
Construction site safety also aids in saving money and delivering the projects on time. When an accident occurs at a construction site, work is suspended. It can lead to costly lawsuits and delays in completing the operations, which increases the project's overall cost. A danger exists even if accidents never happen at work. To implement a construction site safety culture, OSHA has introduced ten site safety measures that every construction company must know and abide by.
Scaffoldings (a temporary wooden or iron structure placed on the outside of a building) are used in the construction industry and must be handled very carefully to avoid accidents. Scaffolding should not be held up by hazardous materials like loose bricks, barrels, or cartons. The frame must be sturdy and able to support four times the maximum designed load in addition to its weight without settling or shifting. Toe boards, mid rails, and guardrails are required on every scaffold.
Falls contribute the most to construction site injuries accounting for 40% of fatalities in 2017. To prevent these workers from working close to roof or floor edges, they should use guard rails with toe boards. Workers should also essentially utilize safety net equipment while working at high altitudes. Additionally, workers should monitor the floor's stability, and any defects should be repaired immediately. Finally, construction companies should get acquainted with IBC and OSHA construction standards related to fall protection systems.
Cranes are essential for any construction site but can threaten life if not used properly. As per OSHA guidelines, cranes should be inspected for proper controls and wire rope chains and not exceed the weight limit of the machine. In addition, avoid moving the crane around workers as most injuries occur when the overhead load strikes workers.
This refers to distributing knowledge about potentially dangerous compounds in the workplace. Inadequate communication can lead to chemical burns, fires, and explosions, causing vast mortalities and injuries. To prevent this, the following steps can be helpful:
- Keep Material Safety Data Sheets (MSDS) in hand to keep a written record of all the chemicals used.
- Make the data accessible to every employee.
- Employees should receive training on all dangerous chemicals being utilized.
- Establish a written spill containment strategy.
- Teach staff how to mop up chemical accidents properly
- Provide proper protective gear and a clean-up kit.
LADDER AND STAIRWAYS:
To avoid accidents, select the appropriate ladder for the job. Always inspect ladders for structural deterioration and discard damaged ladders immediately. Stairways should be from hazardous objects and debris. Stairways with four or more risers, or stairways that rise more than 30 inches, must have at least one handrail.
Electrocution incidents can be prevented by using OSHA's safety guidelines, such as:
Workers should be stopped from working on any electrical circuits until power is shut down. The company must replace all worn-out electrical cords, and electrical tools should be inspected for defects. Ladders should always be at least 10 feet away from electrical power lines.
PERSONAL PROTECTIVE EQUIPMENT:
PPE is a life-saving measure, including headgear, goggles/face shields, and hand gloves. Contractors should adequately educate workers about the use of these pieces of equipment. In addition, they should be kept clean and should be tailored to every worker's body.
Avoid crowding around the site area to prevent accidents and injuries to the general public. In addition, the excessive crowd around the site can lead to distractions, and excessive exposure to hazardous chemicals such as asbestos, chromium, etc., leading to dangerous public diseases.
FIRST AID KIT AND CPR:
In case of accidents, emergency teams can do timely management if the company adopts a first-aid emergency kit and CPR training per OSHA guidelines. The first-aid kit should include wound coverings such as bandages, removing foreign bodies from the eye using irrigation or a cotton swab, and even administering tetanus immunizations.
REPORT ISSUES IMMEDIATELY:
A lot of accidents can be prevented if loopholes in a system are immediately reported. Train workers to report issues as soon as they notice them. Timely solutions can save lives and prevent financial damage to the project.
Accidents and injuries at a construction site may seem inevitable. Still, the probability of unwanted accidents and injuries at these sites can be effectively reduced by using OSHA's guidelines for construction site safety and should be mandatory for every contractor to follow and impl