Due to the nature of the business, construction workers may be exposed to the hazards of unguarded machinery, being struck by heavy equipment, falling from heights, trench collapse, scaffold collapse, electrocution, repetitive motion injuries, silica dust, asbestos, and more.
In 2017, approximately 1 in 5 workers deaths were in construction, over half of which were caused by the “Fatal Four”: Falls, Struck by Object, Electrocutions, Caught-In/Between. 582 worker lives in America could be saved every year by eliminating the Fatal Four (Common Stats, OSHA).
OSHA reports that the following standards were the most frequently violated in fiscal year 2018:
- Fall protection, construction
- Hazard communication standard, general industry
- Scaffolding, general requirements, construction
- Respiratory protection, general industry
- Control of hazardous energy, general industry
- Ladders, construction
- Powered industrial trucks, general industry
- Fall Protection–Training Requirements
- Machinery and Machine Guarding, general requirements
- Eye and Face Protection
Construction employers must frequently inspect job sites, materials, and equipment. One benefit of an effective safety and health program is that contractors may qualify for focused inspections, which are narrower in scope than comprehensive inspections. In addition to developing and implementing a safety and health program, employees must receive safety training, and employers must keep records of workplace injuries and illnesses, report fatalities and severe injuries, display the OSHA poster, and provide employees access to employee exposure and medical records.
In the end, it is important for construction companies to proactively protect their workers by establishing a safety and health program, because losing workers to injury or illness can cause serious disruption and cost to workers, their families, and the company. Not to mention, illness and injury can hurt workplace morale, productivity, turnover, and reputation. Additionally, identifying and solving safety issues before they occur can improve trust, communication, and even product quality and profit.
Resources we have found to be helpful include OSHA’s Pocket Construction Guide, Compliance Assistance Quick Start, and OSHA’s Recommended Practices for Safety & Health Programs in Construction.