Construction sites are often areas with heavy machinery, high voltage, and other potential hazards. Depending on the nature of the work done, construction site accidents can result in severe injury or even death. Previous studies have shown that falls account for about 25% of all deaths that occur on a construction site, and it’s estimated that more than half of those falls could have been prevented if proper safety measures had been taken.
There are several types of construction site accidents: falls; struck by objects, caught-in/between objects; electrocution; motor vehicle crashes; chemicals or other substances, and fires or explosions. If you work as an employee on a construction site, it is your responsibility to know the types of potential hazards and how to avoid them.
The following list briefly explains some common causes of construction site accidents:
- Falls. These account for more than one-fifth of all deaths on a construction site. They can occur anywhere from the ground to roofs and between structures. A fall occurs when an individual is displaced from a support position and falls freely or strikes something before landing below the ground or floor. Precautions include guardrails, fall-arrest systems, toe boards, barricades, railings, warning signs, warning line tape around excavations, personal safety nets (fall arrest equipment), limiting access to exposed edges. PPE includes hard hats at low heights, slip-resistant footwear, safety glasses or goggles, face shields for power tools or other machinery that can send debris into the air at high speeds.
- Struck by object: These types of accidents include being struck in the head by a falling object. Some examples are when construction workers are hit in the head with bags of drywall or when they are hit by debris from mechanical equipment. Workers should always assume that objects could fall at any time, especially during construction activities involving excavation, demolition, roofing work, transporting vehicles and materials over temporary support systems. Precautions include no parking on wet or damaged roofs where vehicle weight can cause collapse; keeping people away from exposed edges; avoiding working under unstable conditions such as excavations near an occupied building, and taking care when moving materials in windy conditions. PPE should include hard hats and safety glasses/goggles to protect the eyes from falling objects such as tools, pieces of wood or metal, rocks, hand tools, debris, and other construction materials.
- Caught-in/between: These types of accidents are common in construction site work and occur when machinery traps workers between components or between parts of the machinery itself. Some examples include a worker’s arm getting caught in a conveyor belt, leg entrapment in heavy equipment (bulldozers), and an arm stuck in rotating equipment (a roller).
- Electrocution: These types of accidents occur mainly during work on overhead lines, service lines, and electrical devices and can happen when working with temporary wiring. Workers are vulnerable to electric shock due to direct contact with energized circuits carrying sufficient current to cause death or serious injury.
The construction industry has the highest number of workplace fatalities when compared to other sectors. Individuals must take adequate precautions when working in such places.