Construction is an inherently dangerous industry. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), 937 total deaths occurred in the construction industry last year, more than any other industry.
While this accident rate of 10.1 fatal injuries per 100,000 full-time workers was lower than other industries like logging and mining, it still represents a scary indication of how common and lethal construction accidents can be.
To protect your crew, keep an eye out for these five most common construction injury causes, and then take steps to prevent them.
The Five Most Common Construction Injury Causes
- Falls — Falls are the most common source of injury and death on construction sites. The BLS reports that 40 percent of all construction work deaths in 2014 were the result of falls.
- Falling Objects — Unsecured items or materials that break away unexpectedly can cause severe injury including head trauma, impalement and broken limbs. Being struck by an object is the third-most common cause of construction deaths according to the BLS.
- Equipment Accidents — Equipment failure and improper use coupled with poor safety practices to make equipment accidents on construction sites all too common.
- Vehicle Accidents — Construction vehicles are huge, with poor visibility and people often working close to them. Workers can be backed up over or trapped by equipment during maneuvers or after accidents. The BLS notes that the category of getting caught in or between objects and materials caused 39 construction deaths in 2014.
- Overexertion, Strains, Environmental Injuries — These accidents rarely cause death, but they can be a huge culprit for missed days of work. Strains from repetitive motion or overexertion as well as environmental injuries like frostbite or heat stroke happen far too frequently on construction sites.
Preventing Injury on Your Site
Preventing construction injuries involves some serious practice and culture changes around the job site and also back at the home office.
Firstly, every firm should conduct a thorough audit of their current accident statistics as well as their safety programs in place. They should account for all signage used, training materials presented, safety equipment and managerial practices intended to reduce accidents.
From there, the firm can invest in training from the top down to promote practices that reduce the risk of injury. Top-level executives should start initiatives to raise awareness on accidents and affect culture changes to prevent them. Project managers should communicate the value of low accidents as part of project goals. Supervisors and on-site managers should diligently train and observe their employees to look for habits that increase risk.
With these elements in place, the following remedies can be made more effective:
- Invest in mandatory safety equipment, ensure it is up-to-date and train workers on its proper use
- Teach supervisors risk-reduction strategies, like giving workers breaks, explaining safety practices throughout the year and observing dangerous practices
- Audit worker clothing and practices in extreme weather to reduce environmental risks
- Have every worker undergo accident training and training for risk reduction based on the equipment they will be using or tasks they will undergo
- Set goals for low accident numbers and a reduction in accidents year-over-year
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While your firm takes steps to reduce risks on-the-job, it can also reduce risks on its books by securing surety bonding products. Performance and payment bonds instill confidence in contract awarders while helping strengthen relationships with vendors and subcontractors.
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