The 5 most common construction site accidents and how to prevent them
In any country, construction sites are one of the most dangerous places to work, second only to agriculture in terms of accident frequency. No matter how many laws and safety procedures are in place, construction sites are still hazard hotbeds, meaning injuries and deaths are unfortunately quite common. Read on for a list of the 5 most frequent accidents and some suggestions on how to prevent, or at the very least, reduce them.
Slips and trips
Construction sites can be busy places where any number of materials and substances are being moved around, often resulting in untidy, uneven surroundings for those working there. As a result, the most common injuries in construction are trips over materials and obstacles. Small oil and grease spillages present further hazards, while rain brings its own brand of slippery mischief.
Prevention: Walkways and work areas should be clear of obstructions at all times. Yes, this sounds like an obvious point, but it’s one which is often overlooked when you’re preoccupied and ‘too busy’ to tidy up. Also, the first employee to discover a slippery surface should report it immediately to their manager, who must ensure the hazard is dealt with.
Falling from height
Because so much construction work is carried out at lofty heights, injuries from falling happen often and can be quite serious. Builders fall off scaffoldings for a number of reasons, but the most common cause is a lack of guardrails being in place.
Prevention: It’s simple really. As well as making sure scaffolds are solidly built, ensure that sufficient guardrails are placed wherever necessary. As an extra safety net, workers should be equipped with appropriate fall protection such as harnesses and rope grabs.
Being hit by falling objects
Falling objects such as tools, materials and debris pose a very real and potentially fatal threat to workers. For example, in 2012 a 17 year old construction employee in Sydney was struck by a falling excavator bucket. Despite wearing the required safety gear, the worker suffered severe injuries and later died. Sometimes, just relying on your safety gear isn’t enough – it’s better to prevent these risks in the first place.
Prevention: As mentioned earlier, fixing guardrails to scaffoldings are essential when it comes to construction safety, preventing workers from falling off. Similarly, fences and barricades can help reduce the amount of objects from falling onto workers below. Additionally, install safety nets where possible as these will catch falling debris.
Hundreds of construction workers die each year due to electrocutions, so electrical safety shouldn’t be taken lightly. Major causes of death and injury involve contact with exposed wires, defective machinery and electrically charged metal objects. Workers are often unaware of the minimum clearance distances from power lines, causing further unnecessary deaths.
Prevention: It’s all well and good having your electricians trained in electrical safety, but what about your other workers? There is a general lack of basic electrical safety knowledge amongst non-electrical workers in the industry, so it’s crucial that every worker is given the appropriate training. Also, regular safety inspections are a no-brainer.
Vehicle related accidents
According to Eurostat, one in three fatal construction site accidents involve vehicles. These range from people being hit by reversing cars to workers being struck by forklift trucks, lack of training and poor vehicle maintenance have often been cited as major causes of these accidents.
Prevention: Following a few simple procedures can greatly reduce the chances of workers being injured by moving vehicles. Vehicle-only areas can be designated with signs or barriers, ensuring workers know where they shouldn’t be treading. Also make sure that vehicles are always checked before use, especially the brakes and reversing lights/beepers.
Guest post written by Hassan Ali from Ardent, a UK based company who are specialists in fire suppression systems.