Construction Jobs Are Risky, Here’s How to Remain Safe
Construction is a risky business. If you’re not operating with the utmost safety standards at all times, site accidents can cause serious injuries, including permanent disability, loss of a limb, a traumatic brain injury, blindness, broken bones, or even death.
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, in 2021, nearly one in five workplace deaths occurred in the construction industry, with just over one-third of all fatalities due to falls, slips, and trips (which represents an increase of 5.9 percent). And in Arizona, the private construction industry sector had 20 fatal workplace injuries in 2020, just over 20 percent of all occupational fatalities in the state.
Why are accidents likely in construction? It’s an industry that requires workers to operate heavy machinery, handle toxic or flammable materials, rely on scaffolding to hold workers high in the air, or work on job sites where environmental elements can be unpredictable.
So if risk is a given for any construction job, what can workers do to remain safe? It starts with educating yourself on the most common types of construction accidents.
Types of Construction Accidents
In 2020, 1,008 workers died in construction accidents, the third highest fatality rate of any industry. While the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) identified four leading types of hazards as falls, being struck by an object, electrocution, and being caught in between two or more objects, the most common types of accidents include:
- Falls, Tripping or Slipping: Because construction workers have to work around tripping hazards and from high places, like scaffolds, ladders, and rooftops, there’s always a chance of falling and suffering a serious injury.
- Electricity: A minor mishap or careless movement around exposed wires or power lines could lead to electric shock and severe injury. In the case of electrocution, this can be fatal.
- Falling Objects: Construction jobs always carry the risk of a worker being struck by falling, flying, swinging or rolling objects, such as tools, equipment, beams, bricks, boards, ladders, or debris.
- “Caught-Between” Accidents: With so many heavy materials and machines on a job site, construction workers are often in danger of getting stuck between two objects, like being pinned against a wall or getting trapped if a structure collapses.
- Fires and Explosions: There are numerous factors that could contribute to a fire or explosion, through gas leaks, flammable materials, etc.
- Overexertion: Performing physical labor for long hours often leads to overexertion, which can create soft tissue injuries or fatigue. Worse still, the risks of overexertion only grow when working in high heat. Dehydration, fainting, and heatstroke are all very real threats on many construction sites.
- Trench Cave-Ins: Construction workers often have to dig trenches when erecting or expanding buildings. If a trench collapses while workers are still inside, they could be hit by falling debris or trapped underground.
What You Can Do to Stay Safe
Construction accidents in Arizona can cause serious injury and even be fatal. While the nature of the industry means you’ll always be exposed to some element of risk, there are things you can do to keep accidents at bay. To keep yourself and others safe, these are the top tips for avoiding a site accident.
- Workers should be adequately trained on operating heavy machinery, abiding by safety protocols, recognizing the signs of an unstable trench, staying alert in active work zones and handling hazardous materials.
- All tools and equipment should be properly maintained and inspected by trained personnel. Always promptly report any defects or damages.
- Frequently inspect excavation sites and job sites for signs of an unstable trench, such as water accumulation or cracking soil.
- Wear the proper protective gear like gloves, masks, or respirators if handling hazardous materials, high-visibility clothing to stand out in busy areas or safety gear like harnesses while working from high places.
- Know the signs of heat exhaustion and overexertion so you can identify symptoms early and seek timely help. Employers should provide shaded rest areas, adequate water supply and frequent breaks when working in hot conditions.
Have you sustained a construction worksite injury? We will help fight for the legal rights and protections of injured construction workers. If you wish to discuss the specifics of your case in a free consultation with an experienced Tucson personal injury lawyer, please contact us today.