Construction workers face numerous hazards in the workplace, but by taking certain steps, they may help reduce their risk of suffering on the job injuries.
Construction sites are inherently dangerous workplaces for people in New York, and throughout the U.S. In fact, the Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that 874 workers in this industry were killed in 2014, and many more were injured on the job. While some occupational accidents are unavoidable, there are things that employers and construction workers can do to improve construction site safety.
Common construction site hazards
Workers in the construction industry face a number of dangers in the workplace. According to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, some of the most common construction site hazards include the following:
- Trench collapses
- Scaffolding collapses
- Electric shocks
Construction workers also commonly suffer repetitive motion injuries. These types of conditions, including tendonitis, may develop as a result of performing certain tasks, or from using certain tools or equipment.
Ensure trenches are safe
Should a trench collapse, workers may become trapped inside, or they could be injured by falling debris. In order to avoid such incidents, it is recommended that people use protective systems when they are using trenches. Furthermore, they should make sure that trenches are protected before they enter them.
Employers may help improve their workers' safety by having registered engineers design the protective system for any trenches that are in use. Additionally, trenches should be inspected before they are used, as well as following any event that might compromise their safety. It is also important for employers to ensure their workers have a safe way to exit any trenches that they are working in.
Erect and use scaffolds properly
Scaffolding collapses may cause workers to fall from significant heights, or to be struck by heavy debris, which may lead to serious on the job injuries. Therefore, it is advisable to only allow qualified workers to erect, move, dismantle or alter scaffolds. Workers may help avoid injuries due to scaffolding collapses by ensuring that scaffolds are sound, and that they are equipped with toeboards, guardrails and midrails.
When in use, scaffolding should be regularly inspected for signs of weakness or damage. Any pieces that are in disrepair should immediately be fixed or replaced. Until this is done, workers should not use the scaffold.
Use appropriate safety equipment
Some serious construction site accidents may be avoided by using the appropriate safety equipment. This may include using body harnesses, safety net systems, guardrails and control line systems. It is also recommended to cover floor hole covers when they are not in use.
Construction workers may also improve their safety in the workplace by wearing safety gear. Eye protection, hard hats and gloves may provide a level or protection against certain types of occupational injuries.
Keep work areas clear
Often on construction sites, there is a lot going on, and a lot of moving parts. As such, keeping work areas free of clutter and other debris may help to avoid some work-related accidents. Additionally, it may be helpful for any spills to be wiped up. This may help prevent workers from slipping and suffering injuries, as well as electric shocks. In addition to watching for vehicles and equipment while on construction sites, it is also recommended that people avoid standing around or lingering in work areas where they are not working.
Seek legal counsel
Most construction workers in New York, and elsewhere, who are injured on the job are entitled to workers' compensation benefits. However, complexities in the process may make an already difficult time more challenging for some. Therefore, those who have suffered occupational injuries may benefit from working with an attorney. A lawyer may explain their options, and help ensure their rights are upheld.