Ways to Reduce the Risk of Workplace Construction Accidents
We’ve discussed the dangers of the construction industry before. However, it’s difficult do justice to the severity of the situation. To put it into perspective, there are approximately 2,100 inspectors responsible for ensuring safety compliance for around 130 million workers. Per the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) statistics, this translates into one inspector for every 59,000 employees.
This is a testimony to the importance of self-regulation on worksites. Every employer, foreman, contractor, manager, and employee needs to work towards a safety management plan. Approaching safety at a holistic level is the only way to offset some risks, and to help protect everyone in the industry.
A proactive safety culture
When many of us think of safe construction sites, we envision yellow hard hats, reflective orange vests, glasses, and essential toolbox talks. But all of these things are useless when they aren’t used and implemented properly.
One of the most important things any construction employer can do is create a culture of safety that involves every single person directly and indirectly associated with the worksite. It’s not the responsibility of any single person, but the responsibility of everyone to help implement the best safety practices.
Any time that people are working with heavy equipment, hazardous materials, or dealing with unpredictable scenarios, the risk of harm goes up exponentially. Construction work is dangerous for a reason. Additional scrutiny is merited when it comes to the implementation and development of effective safety procedures. It’s essential to take a proactive approach that fosters preparedness, appropriate reactivity, and an active cycle of risk management.
Being proactive starts with a plan.
Safety management software works to get everyone on the same page using an automated system. Technology is making construction workers safer by providing real-time calculations and risk assessments that are nearly free of human error. Having access to data like this (and connecting it with other industry incidents) is vital. It allows employers to come up with an actionable plan, train every single employee, reward safe practices, and make safety procedures as natural as tightening a screw. Construction safety starts before the worksite is even established.
Teach employees how to respond to accidents.
Nothing makes a bad situation worse than a person who panics; it wastes time, compounds the problem, and can cause more upset. Part of good risk management means teaching everyone how to respond in the event of an emergency. Regular equipment training, CPR, basic first aid training, and scenario simulations can help. The bare minimum is never good enough when it comes to protecting your employees.
There are new approaches to safety being developed all the time, for all types of construction. Staying apprised of these is as easy as attending the annual Construction Safety Conference in Bend, OR. The next one is being held in January and provides an important platform for professionals to exchange ideas.
Inventory risks and learn from the statistics.
Primary causes of worksite accidents each year include:
Injuries from worksite materials
Exposed electrical wires, falling debris, improperly secured materials, and carelessly placed nails, screws, and sharp edges are among the most dangerous aspects of a worksite. Workers can avoid these by wearing the proper protective equipment, being aware of their surroundings, and performing routine equipment checks.
Strain and stress on the body
Putting too much stress on the body can lead to back injuries, herniated disks, and many other problems. Always make sure that employees are wearing supportive gear, and keep managers apprised of conditions that could put them at risk. OSHA reported that 34 percent of injuries in manufacturing and related industries were due to musculoskeletal disorders.
Hand tools and heavy equipment
Worksite equipment comprises another large category of worksite risks. All equipment needs to be stored properly, regularly inspected by professionals, and updated to minimize risk. Employees also need to be trained thoroughly and often to keep them up-to-date with the latest procedures.
Keep risk management fluid
It’s imperative that your risk management plan be fluid and continually updated based on the newest data. Again, this process can be fundamentally improved and streamlined using safety management software.
The worst-case scenario has already happened.
Although OSHA is working to develop new safety standards all the time, there are still recent incidents resulting in fatalities, pain and suffering. In February, the San Antonio press reported that two workers were crushed when nearly 1000 pounds of rebar came crashing down on top of them. The workers had been in the process of securing the rebar to create a support system when the bundle tilted to one side and became unstable.
The incident left one man in critical condition, and another with broken bones and minor injuries. All it takes is one unpredictable event to destabilize an entire worksite. Things happen quickly, and it’s imperative to have a plan in place—don’t wait until a worker dies or is severely injured.
A quick google search will return millions of results for “construction accidents,” demonstrating just how important the issue is to the current workforce. Everyone deserves to be safe when they go to work. Construction safety protects everyone and leads to a happier and productive outcome.
Only last week OSHA announced their intention to investigate an incident involving the toppling over of a crane into a residential area in Meriden, CT. Fortunately nobody was injured, but things like this aren’t unheard-of. Investigating and learning from each accident provides valuable insight into ways to avoid similar situations in the future.
Construction safety can be enhanced with the right software.
The latest in risk management technology improves the way that employers and employees incorporate the best safety practices into their daily routines. This approach provides a complete view that improves construction safety for everyone involved.
A safer construction worksite is possible with SafetyTek’s safety management software. We have what you need to better assess on-site risks, protect your employees, and to bring your safety compliance to a whole new level. Reach out to us for more information!