Let’s face it, construction work by its very definition (the building of things) is inherently dangerous.
Below are some of the top potential hazards for construction workers (and how to alleviate the danger).
Slips and falls are quite common at construction sites, leading to broken limbs, dislocated shoulders, sprained ankles, and more. People fall when carrying things (the objects are too large and block their vision) and they fall when they’re just walking from one place to another. To help prevent slips and falls make sure walkways are clear of debris, make sure holes and trenches are filled (and clearly marked), clear up scraps after cutting things (injuries can be even greater when falling into a pile of scrap metal or wood), and require that all workers wear steel-toed boots or other reinforced footwear to cut down on foot injuries. Safety first!
People often fall when walking on roofs or narrow beams. Any entry way that’s more than 19 inches from the ground should have an adequate and sturdy staircase, ramp or ladder (and make sure the ladder is even and is placed on a non-slip and secure surface). The maximum pitch that’s safe for a walkway is 20 degrees from horizontal and the minimum width for a ramp/walkway is 18 inches. If a building’s access if higher than four feet, the walk board, or other walkway, must have a secure railing on all exposed sides. If there’s any kind of hazard on or near a walkway such as running machinery, live electricity or an impalement hazard – no matter what its height – there must be a secure railing as well as toe board.
People can fall just six feet and die. If you’re building a second floor, you must build a secure staircase to that floor before raising studs on that floor. Place a sturdy guard rail around any stairwell opening. The guard rail must be at waist height. Never allow your workers to walk between open deck joists. Never.
Stepladders are both a bane and a job saver. To keep them from injuring workers, make sure the ladder is tall enough for the worker to do his or her job without having to work on the top or second-to-top step. Most ladder accidents happen when the ladder tips over. Never use a step ladder on a scaffold. Just. Don’t.
Falling from a roof is the top cause of death for construction workers. To prevent falls, make sure there isn’t too much slack in a lanyard/safety line and double check that the line’s anchor is completely secure. The best type of anchor is a “truss grab.” Never place more than one line on any one anchor.
Lower back injuries are quite common because of all the heavy lifting that occurs in construction. To help prevent back injuries, make sure that you lift with your legs and not your back. Use panel lifters instead of carrying panels on shoulders. Don’t be afraid to ask a buddy to help carry something heavy.