The fatal injury rate for the construction industry is higher than the national average in this category for all industries. Four types of construction accidents were responsible for more than half (54.2%) the construction worker deaths in 2012, according to the Occupational Safety & Health Administration (OSHA). They are called the “Fatal Four and include Falls (34.6%), Struck by Object (9.8%), Electrocutions (8.1%) and Caught-in/between (1.6%)
The leading causes of accidents that caused injuries on construction sites were falls, transportation incidents and contact with objects, said a report on the leading causes of fatal and nonfatal injuries in construction. The top causes of fatal and nonfatal injuries were different because a number of injuries linked to accidents on construction sites are rarely fatal, for example, repetitive motion injuries. This type of injury was a high ranking cause of nonfatal work injuries resulting in days away from work, but resulted in no deaths.
Below is a list of common causes of accidents on construction sites.
Scaffolding: When scaffolds are not used or erected correctly, chances of a fall increase. The number of construction workers frequently working on scaffolds is approximately 2.3 million, according to OSHA. With proper protection, an estimated 4,500 scaffold-related accident injuries and 50 fatalities would be prevented each year.
Falls: Year after year falls account for the greatest number of fatalities in the construction industry. Falls can be caused by a number of factors, including unstable working surfaces, failure to use fall protection equipment, faulty equipment, and insufficient safety training. Most construction projects need workers to perform jobs high off the ground, putting workers at risk of falling from roofs, scaffolding, elevator shafts, stairways, holes in flooring and more.
Ladders: Ladder accidents typically occur when they are not properly secured, maintained or used properly. Workers may select the wrong type of ladder for their job or set up the ladder improperly, falling when it unexpectedly shifts or slips. Falls also occur when workers lose their balance, overreach, or something knocks over the ladder.
Stairways: Slips, trips and falls on stairways are a major source of injuries and fatalities among construction workers.
Trenching: Trenches are recognized as dangerous work areas and require extra safety precautions to avoid accidents. Dozens of fatalities and hundreds of injuries are caused by trench collapses each year, according to OSHA.
Cranes: Significant and serious injuries may occur if cranes are not used properly or not inspected before use. Major causes of accidents invoicing cranes are contact with poser lines, overturns, falls and mechanical failures. Workers may be injured if they are caught within the crane’s swing radius. Deaths may occur if a load falls or the boom of a crane touches an overhead power line.
Electricity: Electrical accidents are the third leading cause of fatalities for construction workers. One potential electrical hazard is contact with overhead power lines. Another is contact with transformers and live wires. A third type occurs when contact is made with electricity while work is being performed with tools, machinery, or other appliances.
Chemicals: Chemical hazards on construction sites can come in many forms: dusts, liquids, gases, vapors and fumes. These can cause severe burns, respiratory problems, organ damage, neurological injury, fires and explosions.
Forklifts: According to OSHA, nearly 100 workers die and nearly 95,000 workers are injured every year while operating powered industrial trucks. A significant number of the deaths are caused by forklift turnovers.
Failure to use proper personal protective equipment including head protection: Forms of protective equipment include hard hats, goggles, face shields, earplugs, steel-toed shoes, respirators. Workers need to wear proper gear. There are thousands of potential hazards on a construction site.
Repetitive motion injuries: Many of the physical tasks construction workers do on a daily basis consist of repetitive motions. Over time, these repeat motions can lead to “overuse injuries” such as tennis elbow, carpal tunnel syndrome, and arthritis.
When construction workers are injured, it not only affects their health and job, it presents a challenge for their family as well.