When it comes to safety in the workplace, some industries are safer than others. While injuries can even occur with any job, people who work in the construction industry are particularly at risk of workplace accidents. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics:
- Construction as an industry only accounts for 4 percent of worker injuries but close to a quarter of all deaths.
- The majority of fatalities in construction workers are caused by falls, being struck by an object, electrocutions, and crush injuries.
- Falls alone account for more than a third of all deaths in the construction industry.
- The most common nonfatal injuries in the construction industry are back injuries and hand injuries, each with over 11,000 reported injuries annually.
- According to statistics from Safety and Health, a construction worker who works for 45 years has a 75 percent chance of becoming disabled.
- Almost all construction workers will suffer at least one non-fatal injury in their lifetime.
- Over a 45-year career, a worker has a one in 200 chance of suffering a fatal accident.
Construction workers are at a significant risk of suffering a disabling injury due to an accident involving a fall or heavy machinery. Because of the this, the Department of Occupational Health and Safety (OSHA) has put some regulations in place to help reduce the chances of a serious or fatal accident occurring. When companies or employers are found to violate any of these regulations, the citations are reported, tracked, and logged. Recently, OSHA released a list of their most common citations in the construction industry. It is important for everyone to know these violations to ensure that their company remains in compliance with OSHA and does their part to reduce worker injuries.
Common OSHA Violations in the Construction Industry: Scaffolding
Not far behind falls, coming in 4th place on the list of most common OSHA violations in 2017, was scaffolding. Scaffolds are construction tools used to help workers reach locations that are otherwise out of reach. According to OSHA regulation 1926.451:
Scaffolds and scaffold components must be able to support its weight, and at least four times the weight of the maximum load intended to be transmitted to it.
When these scaffolds fail to support the weight applied to them, they can collapse, and serious injuries can result. Based on a survey conducted by the Bureau of Labor and Statistics, close to three-quarters of workers who were injured while using a scaffold say that the injury occurred because the platform gave way while they were working on it. Common problems related to scaffolds include:
- Failure to inspect them for proper integrity.
- Failure of employees to recognize hazards on the platform.
- Having an incorrect maximum load listed on a framework.
- Erecting a scaffold that is not level with the surface on which it stands.
- Using planks with visible defects.
- Using planks that do not have the proper guardrails.
All of these issues could lead to a severe injury or fatality.
Common OSHA Violations in the Construction Industry: Falls
Based on the statistics above, it shouldn’t come as any surprise that falls are one of the most common safety violations cited by OSHA. Specifically, fall protection regulation 1925.501 related to the construction industry was the most common safety violation cited by OSHA in 2017. The standard reads that:
Any employee working on a walking surface with an unprotected edge that is more than 6 feet off of the ground must be protected by a guardrail, safety net, or other personal fall arrest system.
The safety regulation goes on to read that these elevated walking surfaces should be protected from holes and that workers must be protected from falling objects as well. Any gaps in these walkways should be protected by covers.
If an employer fails to properly guard their employees against these fall risks, serious injuries such as traumatic brain damage, bone fractures, and wounds to vital organs can occur.
Common OSHA Violations in the Construction Industry: Construction Machinery
Another regulation that is commonly cited by OSHA in construction surrounds the use of heavy machinery. According to OSHA’s regulation 1926.600:
Equipment that is left alone at night must have appropriate barricades and reflectors attached to it.
These markings are important because they alert everyone in the area to the dangers involved with this machinery. If the equipment isn’t properly marked, people who aren’t trained in its use may try to turn on the equipment. If someone uses heavy machinery that they aren’t familiar with, they could develop serious injuries. Examples of common injuries from construction machinery include:
- Cuts, scrapes, and lacerations.
- Crush injuries between pinch points, such as gears and pistons.
- Amputation injuries from sharp edges.
- Burn injuries related to hot surfaces or electrical wiring.
Someone who sustains these injuries could miss a significant amount of time from work. According to a survey done by OSHA and the Bureau of Labor and Statistics:
- Over 150,000 construction accidents are reported to the Bureau of Labor and Statistics each year.
- The most likely age group to be injured are individuals between the ages of 25 and 34.
- Most construction injuries involve the back and could lead to chronic pain.
- About 15 percent of workers’ compensation costs on an annual basis go to construction workers.
These safety violations can lead to significant quality of life issues for construction workers. Construction accidents can lead to medical problems that could last for the rest of the individual’s life. Because of this, anyone who has been hurt in a construction accident should meet with a machine accident lawyer in Sacramento. You could be entitled to financial compensation.
Watch YouTube Video: 10 Construction Site Safety Rules. This animated video provides ten basic construction site health and safety rules.
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Machine Accident Lawyers in Sacramento
I’m Ed Smith, a machine accident lawyer in Sacramento. Workplace accidents can cause serious injuries and even death. If you or someone you know has been involved in an accident at work, contact me for a free consultation at 916-584-9355.
I’ve helped many clients in the Northern California area with their wrongful death & personal injury cases over the past three decades. I work hard to represent injured individuals and their family members while helping them earn the compensation that they are entitled to.
Image Citation: The photograph at the start of this post was first found on Pixabay.com The picture has been reproduced on this page via the Creative Commons License, version CC0.
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