How can Construction Workers Stay Safe at Work?
Construction is an essential industry, but it presents unique hazards. There are 6.5 million people in the construction industry, and approximately half of these workers are injured every year. Most construction site accidents result in minor injuries, but some lead to lifetime chronic health problems, long-term disabilities, and fatalities.
Each year, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) releases a list of commonly seen industrial accident causes. The list typically cites widespread problems, including improper use of scaffolding and ladders, poor communication between workers, ineffective or subpar personal protective equipment (PPE), and inadequate training.
To ensure the safety of all employees working in the construction field, important safety measures must be followed. Below are several useful tips aimed at helping construction workers avoid work accidents.
Wear Proper Respiratory Protection
Construction workers often do their jobs in environments with poor air quality. Dust, chemicals, dirt, and other airborne materials can cause respiratory issues, such as asthma, allergic reactions, and upper respiratory infections. Some respiratory conditions, such as asbestosis and mesothelioma, can be life-threatening.
Workers who know they will be working in atmospheres with airborne pollutants should wear proper protection. Protective gear, such as face masks, need to be both checked and cleaned frequently to ensure they provide enough protection against the inhalation of irritants.
Understand How to Operate Industrial Machines and Vehicles
People in the construction field often have to use specialized machines and vehicles for their jobs. Since the machinery may not be intuitive, workers should make certain they feel competently trained before operating any equipment. Anyone who is unsure how to safely work equipment should bring up the subject with a supervisor immediately.
Workers can also help reduce construction accidents related to machines and vehicles by expressing concerns if they see co-workers improperly using equipment. Alerting a team or site leader can stop an injury from occurring.
Inspect Tools and Equipment Routinely
An effective way to lower accidental injuries and fatalities at construction sites is to conduct inspections repeatedly and routinely. All inspections should take place before work begins, regardless of the shift. At the end of the shift, the same equipment and tools can be rechecked.
Inspections make it easier to spot problems, such as weakened parts or malfunctioning belts, before they become bigger issues. Even if employees are not explicitly asked to inspect their personal equipment, such as face masks or hard hats, they may want to take action.
How can Falls be Prevented?
Falls are one of the more frequently reported types of construction accidents. Workers can fall from heights, such as from two-story scaffolding or ladders. Depending upon the type of fall, the worker could be left with serious or fatal injuries.
Falls are often preventable by taking pragmatic steps to lower the likelihood of the fall occurring. For instance, workers who are doing a job at heights may use fall system equipment, like special safety wires to keep them secure, even if they lose footing. All equipment, such as ladders and scaffolds, should be looked over for signs of weakness.
Focus on Correctly Sloping and Supporting Trenches
Being buried under the caved-in sides of dirt or gravel trench is a real concern for construction workers. Even a relatively modest amount of dirt can produce enough pressure to cause suffocation.
To avoid trench collapses, employees need to ensure that the trenches they work in are properly sloped and supported. They should also be careful about having enough access to entry and exit points. That way, in the event of an imminent collapse, they have a way to escape.
Always Use Personal Protective Equipment
PPE, such as gloves and helmets, may seem unnecessary at times. However, this type of equipment should be worn from the beginning to the end of a shift.
Be Careful Around Electric Equipment
Construction equipment that uses electricity can cause significant injuries or death if an at-work accident happens. Electricity can also lead to fires, which can turn into explosions or spread quickly.
Should I Stay Home if I Feel Sick?
With the possibility of contracting Coronavirus (COVID-19), construction workers should make certain they stay home when sick. Early symptoms of possible COVID-19 infection include a dry cough, sore throat, fever, chills, and headache.
Workers should quarantine themselves until they can get the results of a COVID-19 test. Many hospitals offer free testing, as do medical clinics, doctors’ offices, and even some pharmacies.
Store Chemicals Properly
Chemicals can also pose a hazard in construction work areas. Chemicals can burn skin, and when airborne, a chemical can cause burns or tearing of the eye, nose, mouth, esophagus, and lungs.
In addition to using and storing chemicals according to OSHA standards, workers should also wear the right gear when working with the chemicals.
Lift Heavy Objects Properly
Some construction accidents come from repetitive stress injuries, such as moving and physically transporting heavy objects. Whenever possible, construction workers should lift from their knees and legs rather than putting pressure on their backs and shoulders.
In some cases, equipment such as forklifts and hand trucks should be used to make hauling heavier items simpler for employees.
What to Do After a Construction Accident
After a construction site accident, an injured worker should seek medical attention right away. From that point, the employee should contact the employer to initiate an accident incident report. The worker can also file for Workers’ Compensation to help cover lost wages and any costs associated with the treatment of a workplace injury. If the accident resulted in serious harm to the worker, the worker may want to contact a lawyer. A lawyer will be able to help the worker understand their legal rights to compensation.
Piscataway Construction Accident Lawyers at the Law Offices of Harold J. Gerr Work with Injured Construction Workers
Were you hurt while performing construction work? Our Piscataway construction accident lawyers at the Law Offices of Harold J. Gerr help injured workers get the compensation that they deserve. Call us at 732-537-8570 or complete our online form for a free consultation. Located in Highland Park, New Jersey, we serve clients throughout New Brunswick, Somerset, Piscataway, Edison, South River, Sayreville, Metuchen, East Brunswick, South Plainfield, Fords, Middlesex, Old Bridge, Iselin, Bound Brook, Perth Amboy, and Colonia.