According to OSHA, almost 5,000 workers were killed in 2014. Even more disturbing, over 20 percent of these fatalities occurred in the construction industry. While OSHA has a long list of applicable safety and health regulations for the construction industry, there are four leading causes of construction worker injuries and fatalities. These include falls, electrocutions, struck by an object and caught-in or between objects. Construction companies should carefully consider OSHA’s construction safety standards to avoid these problems.
First, proper fall protection and training should be the first priority. OSHA requires that employers arrange the workplace to prevent employees from falling off of platforms, work stations and even ladders. OSHA requires that fall protection be provided for any construction area that is elevated at least six feet off the ground. Construction companies should create a fall protection policy that includes a ladder inspection program and specific procedures for working at great heights or above dangerous equipment. Construction companies can take preemptive action through guarding all holes, providing guard rails and installing toe-boards. They should also be sure to have fall protection equipment on site, sight as safety nets, lines and harnesses. In fact, certain difficult tasks are best reserved for contractors with specialized training.
Lock Out-Tag Out
Lock Out-Tag Out (LOTO) is the most effective way to prevent fatal injuries, such as dismemberment and electrocution. Every time any construction worker must come into contact with hazardous energy, they should be trained to follow the LOTO policy. For example, before any construction worker attempts to work on a malfunctioning piece of equipment, they should properly lock out the machine and communicate their intentions to other employees. However, many construction workers often attempt to unclog a machine with moving parts by themselves without telling anyone or locking out. Therefore, a strict LOTO policy will protect employees who must physical insert body parts, such as arms, into the machinery for repairs. OSHA requires that workers who perform LOTO duties should be given their personalized lock and key. Only the supervisor or maintenance should have a copy of the key. Strictly following LOTO procedures will ensure that electrocutions or severe injuries do not occur.
Struck By or Between Objects
Being struck by falling, flying or moving objects is a common occurrence in construction sites. However, if the object is a sharp piece of metal or a forklift, then severe injuries or death may result. The two best ways to avoid these problems are through safety training and personal protective equipment (PPE). OSHA requires that construction companies provide their workers with free PPE for the tasks that they are required to perform. The most common PPE includes different types of gloves, such as leather gloves for handling wood, rubber gloves for handling harmful chemicals and insulated gloves for dealing with electricity. Safety glasses, hard hats and earplugs or earmuffs are also standard PPE requirements.
Overall, construction companies should carefully follow OSHA’s construction safety standards in order to prevent accidents and injuries. OSHA offers sample templates and programs for construction companies to copy and adapt for their own purposes here.