The Bureau of Labor Statistics reports the following regarding construction sites in 2013:

  • Out of 4,101 worker fatalities in the private industry, about 20% (828) were in construction.
  • The “Fatal Four” causes of construction deaths were falls (36.5%), being struck by an object (10%), electrocution (8.6%) and being caught in or between equipment (2.5%).
  • Eliminating the “Fatal Four” would save 478 worker lives every year

Without question, construction work is some of the most dangerous type of work out there. In addition to these fatalities, construction work also sees a lot of worker injuries on a regular basis. Job site injuries most commonly involve:

  • Cuts and lacerations to the hands and arms
  • Strains and sprains to the back and shoulders
  • Injuries to the head and face
  • Crush, pinch and caught-in-between injuries
  • Eye injuries

On the construction site, employers are responsible for providing required personal protective equipment (PPE) and for determining the best PPE for the job. However, employees must stay aware of work site situations as well as wear provided PPE. Fulfillment of these two responsibilities means reduction in the number of construction site injuries.

Most workers know wearing PPE is essential for worksite safety. Unfortunately, most injuries on construction sites result from employees not wearing PPE because of discomfort, distress or simply not wanting to take the time. Fashion sometimes comes into play as well. Fortunately, most PPE providers now have PPE that is not only at or above safety standards but that is also comfortable and fashionable.

With comfortable and fashionable PPE readily available, reducing construction site injuries now simply involves following the basics of worksite safety.

Basic Construction Site Safety

  1. Establish Protection Policies “” Employers need written policy that clearly states the safety procedures and equipment needed for every job being performed on a particular worksite.
  2. Provide Adequate Training “” Written policies mean nothing if workers aren’t aware of them. All workers must receive training on the policies in place, and those policies should be reviewed on a regular basis.
  3. Enforce PPE Compliance “” Having zero tolerance for non-compliance is the best first-line approach for reducing injuries and death on the construction site.
  4. Understand that Different Jobs Often Require Different PPE “” When an injury happens even when a worker is wearing PPE, it’s often because the PPE worn was not the most appropriate for the job. Examples include needing different types of gloves, wearing appropriate gear for electrical work, and switching out lenses or changing the type of eye protection being worn.
  5. Encourage Warm-Up and Stretching Programs “” Workers who do simple stretches and warm-up routines prior to starting work at the beginning of a shift or after a break are less likely to strain their backs and shoulders.
  6. Promote Healthy Living “” Healthy employees are safer employees. Employers can promote healthy living in a variety of ways, but the responsibility lies mostly with the individual to choose a healthier lifestyle in order to be more productive.
  7. Establish Awareness of Trade-Stacking “” One type of working taking place above/below/beside another is commonplace on the construction site and needs discussed on a regular basis.
  8. Communicate “” Employees are often the best source for creating adequate safety processes as well as for understanding the best PPE options for specific tasks. Communication among employees and employers can help increase the use of PPE as well as adherence to safety procedures.
  9. Hold Appropriate and Regular Training “” In addition to daily and weekly awareness meetings, employers should regularly train and retrain employees on all safety issues from the most common to the ones that vary with tasks being performed. A trained employee is a safer employee.
  10. Take Responsibility “” The onus for providing the appropriate PPE and adequate safety training falls to the employer. However, workers should take ownership of their own safety and purpose to know the correct safety procedures needed to prevent injury. This means knowing the correct PPE to use, being properly clothed for a work situation and staying focused. It also means knowing when fatigue of lack of confidence in a situation make a situation unsafe.

With both employers and employees playing an active role in construction site safety, the number of injuries on work sites can be significantly reduced.