Construction workers face numerous workplace hazards that could cause serious injuries, but there are steps they can take to improve their safety.
Nearly every occupation in every industry throughout California, and elsewhere, has at least some risk for work-related injuries or illnesses. However, the danger may be greater for some professions, such as construction workers. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, construction workers suffered 4.3 occupational injuries and illnesses for every 100 full-time employees in 2009 alone. Although some of the danger in these workplaces is inherent, there are steps that workers and employers can take to reduce the risk for construction site accidents.
Common construction site hazards
Construction workers face a number of hazards in the workplace. According to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, some of the most common dangers at construction sites include the following:
- Falls, particularly from a significant height
- Electric shocks
- Scaffold collapse
- Trench collapse
- Repetitive stress injuries
- Forklift accidents
Additionally, failing to use the proper personal protective equipment may contribute to occupational injuries for construction workers.
Encourage a culture of safety
One of the most important things employers in the construction industry can do to help reduce injuries is to create a safety culture in the workplace. Providing workers with regular safety training sessions and emphasizing safety protocols may help achieve this. Additionally, employees should be taught how to safely and properly use equipment. Furthermore, workers and management should receive instruction on how to handle emergency situations. This will ensure people know where to locate first aid kits and how to respond in the event of an accident at the worksite.
Conduct regular inspections
Some construction site accidents are caused by equipment that is not operating correctly, or that is in disrepair. Employers should conduct regular walk-throughs and inspections to look for areas and equipment that need maintenance. Likewise, construction workers should inform their employers if they experience issues with any equipment, or if there are areas at the work-site that need attention.
In addition to maintaining equipment, employers should ensure that any hazardous materials on the construction site are labeled and stored appropriately. Dangerous areas on the site should also be marked off or identified.
Use personal protection equipment
For construction workers, the use of personal protective equipment can be crucial to preventing some work-related injuries. Employers may consider providing their employees with such equipment, including safety harnesses, hard hats, safety goggles and work gloves. It is important that workers use the provided protective equipment, or get their own. They should also wear appropriate clothing and footwear.
Keep work areas clear
Construction workers use, and are in contact with, all types of machinery on the job. In some cases, people may be struck by or get pinned in this equipment, which could cause neck, back and spinal injuries, among others. It may be helpful for employers to encourage their workers to keep unnecessary people and clutter to a minimum in work areas. It is advisable that construction workers themselves watch out for such machinery and avoid standing too close to equipment that is in use.
Consult with an attorney
Depending on the circumstances, construction workers who are injured on the job in California are generally entitled to workers’ compensation benefits. For some, however, it may be difficult to navigate the claims filing process and obtain the benefits to which they are entitled. Therefore, people who have suffered occupational injuries at construction sites may benefit from working with a legal representative. A lawyer may help them understand their rights, as well as guide them through the claims filing process.