The Hazards of Falling
The federal government's Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) states that "falls are the leading cause of fatalities in the construction industry." The most fall-related injuries are caused by the following hazards:
- Unprotected floor holessides and wall openings
- Improper construction of scaffolding
- Unguarded, protruding steel reinforced bars
- The misuse of ladders
These hazards can result in a wide variety of injuries when a worker falls, and include sprains, concussions, broken arms and legs, serious internal injuries, and back injuries, among others.
The Danger of Electricity
OSHA also states that construction workers are too often killed as a result of electrocution. The agency lists the following common hazards involving electrical work:
- Improper use of extension cords and flexible cords
- Contact with power lines
- Lack of ground-fault protections
- Missing or broken ground paths Improperly used equipment
Injuries due to accidents with electricity can include severe burns, respiratory paralysis, heart attacks, traumatic brain injuries and neurological injuries, among others.
Heavy Machinery: Handle with Care
OSHA says nearly three-quarters of all construction struck-by fatalities involve heavy machinery such as cranes and trucks. The improper operation of the equipment or the failure to be observant or defensive when driving heavy equipment can cause serious or catastrophic injury, from sprains and head injuries to death.
Before starting any task on a construction site or construction-related task, think about what you're going to do and look for hazards and obstacles. Always wear and use safety gear; if none is provided, ask for it. If you notice a hazard, alert your supervisor. Only operate equipment you have been trained to use properly.