Construction is routinely listed as one of the top two most dangerous jobs in the United States for years. This industry has more injuries and fatalities than the mining and rig work, trucking, forestry, and fishing industries. While the government and individual businesses have taken measures to ensure workers in this industry are safe, the numbers are still unacceptably high. In this article, we will explore why construction sites remain so dangerous despite everything that has happened to make them safe.
Working at Height
There is no getting around the fact that construction workers routinely work at heights ranging from a few feet to hundreds of feet. They might be installing scaffolding for a project’s continuation, hauling tools to a worksite on a higher floor, getting to a higher level to complete their duties, or installing a new roof.
If anything goes wrong while they do this, they could fall and be seriously injured or killed. To prevent this, construction companies should provide personal protective equipment (PPE) and fall protection equipment. Some of this equipment prevents workers from getting too close to an edge where a guardrail or other protection might be unstable, or falling when an unstable surface below them collapses.
All protective equipment should be in working order and safe to use, with the business tasked with ensuring this. If they do not, you could hold them liable for a construction accident and seek compensation if you are injured. You can also file a wrongful death lawsuit if a loved one dies in such an accident.
Any time workers are doing something at height, there is always the possibility of them dropping a tool or something falling off the edge. The amount of damage the object can do will depend on its weight and starting height, which both determine how much energy it has when it stops.
Common injuries include head injuries, traumatic brain injuries, and secondary injuries if the victim fell when they were struck.
The best way to decrease these accidents and make construction sites safer is for workers to attach their tools to themselves or tethers. They should also ensure all materials are at least 3 feet from any edge and use hard hats and other personal protective equipment.
Lastly, workers should be trained to always remember that everyone at a construction site is at risk of falling objects, so they should be vigilant at all times.
Heavy Machinery and Equipment
Every construction site requires heavy machinery and equipment so workers can complete various tasks. Each presents an increased risk of accidents like being caught in or crushed by one. Workers can also be injured when an object falls from a vehicle, which is considered machinery at a construction site. There is also the risk of falling machinery, which can cause injury even if it only falls from a few feet. Training, vigilance, and communication are the best ways to prevent these accidents.
Use of Vibrating Tools
Vibrating tools can cause serious issues when workers use them frequently or for long periods. One of the most well-understood and documented injuries associated with tools like air chisels, impact wrenches, sanders, and grinders is hand-arm vibration syndrome (HAV). This condition causes painful and permanent tingling and numbness in the arms and hands. It can also cause muscle weakness and painful joints but is not known to cause carpal tunnel syndrome.
Construction managers should limit how long workers use vibrating tools to prevent this condition. There are also alternative tools that have reduced vibration, which are great replacements and reduce the risk of HAV. Lastly, managers should ensure all tools are well-maintained and in proper working order to prevent excessive vibration and train workers on the correct use of different tools.
Working in Noisy Environments
Noise-induced hearing loss, occupational deafness, and industrial deafness are all used to indicate that a person has lost some or all their hearing due to working in a noisy environment. Some workers can also develop acoustic shock syndrome, or tinnitus in addition to their hearing loss.
Construction sites are very noisy with all the equipment in use, vehicles running, and people yelling. Managers should provide all construction workers with adequate hearing protection to prevent these conditions.
Higher Risk of Musculoskeletal Disorders
Construction entails a lot of heavy lifting, moving, and climbing that can strain different joints, tissues, and muscles, especially in the back and limbs. These conditions are common in construction workers, especially those who have spent decades doing the same manual activities repeatedly.
Underreporting Makes Things Worse
According to the International Journal of Occupational Safety and Ergonomics, 27% of construction workers say they did not report at least one work-related injury. They gave different reasons for not doing so, including not wanting to risk their jobs and pay, fear of managerial retaliation, social pressure, and saying it is part of being a construction worker.
However, underreporting does more harm than good. First, it robs workers of the chance to get compensated for their injuries since there will be no records if they do not report them. There will also be gaps in their medical treatment which can invalidate their claim.
Second, it does not allow an examination of the facts to prevent similar accidents in the future. If a worker reports an accident or injury and there is a report detailing what happened, the management can go through it to find out what happened and put remedial measures in place.
In addition to reporting any work-related injuries, you should also contact a personal injury attorney immediately so they can advise you on what to do next.
Proper skill, training, vigilance, and communication can help make construction sites much safer. Workers injured on the job, especially if the accident was preventable or due to negligence, can sue for compensation. You can contact our attorneys at the legal offices of Payam Y. Poursalimi to explore your options if you have been injured in a construction accident.
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