Construction work is never easy. And when an employee is injured, it can be anything from a few day’s absences to that person having to resign or even file for disability. This unfortunate loss of good employees can also lead to project delays or hiatuses. Fortunately, there are ways that both workers and contractors can drastically reduce injuries. Based off data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics’ (BLS) 2015 Survey of Occupational Injuries and Illnesses, this guide from NSSI explores the three most common construction injuries and how to prevent them.
Note: the following injuries were nonfatal injuries and illnesses that involved days away from work.
Materials and Parts
According to the BLS, Injuries caused by building materials and part accounted for more than 14,000 injuries. The primary causes were metal pipes, lumber, ducts and fasteners such as nails and screws. Even electric parts such as extension cords and wiring lead to injuries.
To prevent materials and parts-related injuries, workers should always be mindful of their environment while moving materials on site. Any equipment not actively being used should be unplugged or depowered. Everyone present on the job site, whether a subcontractor or project manager, should wear protective equipment as steel-toed boots, hard hats and safety glasses.
Worker Position or Motion
More than 11,000 incidents of construction injuries occurred when workers had self-inflicted accidents, caused by their physical position or a movement such as bending, reaching or climbing. Reaching too high without an assistive device, climbing without the proper equipment or bending down to search for a fastener are examples of this type of injury.
Good posture helps prevent many motion-related injuries. Workers should perform stretches before beginning their shifts. Sitting instead of kneeling or squatting can decrease the chances of back-related injuries. Employees should also refrain from making abrupt movements to help them avoid sprains or muscle strain. They should also never carry heavy objects while climbing.
Non-powered hand tools surprisingly cause more construction injuries than powered ones. Knives and other cutting tools, along with digging and striking tools such as hammers, were among the major sources of injuries. Among power hand tools, tools for boring and cutting, such as drills and power saws, were the major sources of injuries. Both types of hand tools resulted in more than 9,000 total injuries in the survey.
Hand tool accidents can be reduced by using tools only for their intended purpose. Hand tools should be regularly inspected to be certain that they are in good condition and working correctly. Workers should always don gloves, hard hats, and other personal protective equipment (PPE) before using any hand tool.