With 874 construction-related deaths in the year of 2014, the risks of working with heavy equipment and on construction sites is not something you should take lightly. Thousands of individuals put their lives at risk almost on a daily basis building and maintaining infrastructure and expanding and improving our roads. Although tragic, many of these untimely deaths could have been avoided with basic safety procedures and a good understanding of the causes of accidents on work sites. My goal today is to share four of the top causes and simple solutions to help you keep your equipment and workers safe.
The top cause of death on construction sites is falls. Workers have lost their lives falling in holes in the floor, through uncompleted walls, from overhead platforms, and elevated work stations. To protect workers from this risk there are several actions that should be taken which include:
- Cover every floor hole using railing or a toe board.
- Depending on elevation, provide safety harnesses, line, and safety nets.
- Make sure hand railing and guard rails are sturdy and maintained over the course of the job.
- Maintain a clear and clean environment that will make all hazards visible and easy to avoid.
- Discuss with workers, daily, the known risks at the job site.
The second cause of fatal accidents is electrocution. This can include electrical explosions, shock, and fires that end up taking the lives of workers. There are many different ways to protect against these hazards. Below are the most common:
Ensure there are the proper lock out tag out procedures in place. This is a simple method of ensuing that electricity is turned off on the unit that is being serviced and that everyone is aware that the item must remain off until the job is completed.
Make sure each worker is aware of the energy control procedure.
Inform all workers of the appropriate shut off and safety actions to take place in the event of an emergency.
Struck by Object
Third on the list of deaths on construction sites is the act of being struck by a falling object or debris. This is most common with the use of scaffolds. The protection of workers can be accomplished with the following simple practices:
- Barricade the area below scaffolding
- Use panels and screens
- Build a net or canopy to catch falling debris
Caught in Between
Last on the top four fatal incidents at a construction site, which may also be the most gruesome, is getting caught under, in between or being snatched into equipment. Working with stone cutting, agricultural, and landscaping equipment has caused amputations of fingers, arms, and legs. Even worse they have caused individuals to be smashed, squashed, or pulled into equipment. Deaths like this have to stop. Below are a few ways we can work to make this happen:
- Identify the common hazards. What part of the equipment poses the most risk? What part is exposed?
- Make sure equipment has the proper guarding.
- Inspect and maintain equipment on a regular and consistent schedule (Schedule your free inspection)
- Thoroughly train workers and prepare them for all hazards.