Construction sites nationwide, including California, have endless lists of safety hazards that pose injury and illness threats. Although some dangers are unique to specific projects, safety authorities have identified the six most significant hazards that construction workers face. If construction is the industry in which you earn your living, you may benefit from gaining knowledge about these risks because that will allow you to take mitigating steps when facing dangerous conditions.
The California Division of Occupational Safety and Health mandates that employers must protect workers from known safety hazards. Although this might bring you some level of comfort, your employer might be one of those who prioritize profits over employee safety.
The most frequently cited cause of fatalities among construction workers is falling — both same-level and falls from heights. Falls from heights include working on scaffolds or other elevated levels and ladders. Same-level falls follow slips and trips, and proper housekeeping can prevent them. To avoid falling off a ladder, scaffold or platform, you can make sure you never miss a safety training session. Even if you have seen it all before, reminders of the risks might prevent complacency.
Furthermore, make sure you get the necessary fall protection. Always inspect the different parts of your fall arrest equipment to identify wear and tear and other damage that could cause it to fail. Make sure the anchor points are safe before you attach the lanyards.
Never get into a trench that one has not shored or shielded to prevent cave-ins. Wait for the go-ahead from the competent person who must do a hazard assessment before starting each shift. While cave-ins are the most likely cause of severe injuries or fatalities, trenches pose additional hazards, including accidental utility line strikes, insufficient oxygen and dropped objects. The competent person is responsible for assessing those hazards as well.
More than half of all electricity-related fatalities in workplaces occur on construction sites. The only way to avoid electrical shocks or electrocution is to comply with safety regulations for working under or close to overhead power lines. Furthermore, leave any work on energized electrical devices or wires for a qualified electrician. They are the ones who are familiar with exposed electrical parts, high voltages, electric currents, grounding, arcing and guarding.
Scaffolding structures can be higher than 125 feet, and many life-altering and fatal injuries occur when scaffolds are not compliant with prescribed safety standards. Attend safety training sessions whenever you can to stay up to date with hazards, best practices, maintenance and proper operation. Even if you do not work on a scaffold structure, take care if you work under it. Dropped objects from great heights can cause death if they strike workers at lower levels.
Construction sites have various spaces that qualify as confined spaces. These areas pose hazards that can cause death in the blink of an eye. Never enter a confined space for maintenance or repair work without compliance with safety standards. Learn how to recognize confined spaces and also the potential risks you might encounter. Also, note that many workers have lost their lives after entering a confined space to save a coworker.
Heavy construction equipment
Cranes, earthmoving equipment, forklifts and other construction vehicles cause many construction fatalities each year. Many of these occur because pedestrian workers and vehicle operators fail to remain aware of each other. So, whether you are an operator of such equipment or working at ground level and sharing the site with heavy machinery, take the necessary care to avoid injuries.
Despite your best efforts to avoid work-related injuries, accidents typically happen in the blink of an eye. Fortunately, the California workers’ compensation is there to provide financial relief for construction workers who suffered occupational injuries. Dealing with medical treatment, recovery and getting back to work might overwhelm you, and then there will also be the navigation of the workers’ compensation claim. Fortunately, an experienced workers’ compensation attorney can deal with the benefits claim in pursuit of compensation for medical expenses and lost wages.