Construction sites contain many occupational dangers that workers need to be aware of if they’re to avoid injury. Falls and electrical accidents are among the most frequent causes of injury in the building trade. Understanding and proactively addressing construction site hazards by using training, protective equipment, and strict safety procedures is vital for a safe site.
These are the top 5 most common construction site hazards:
Due to the nature of the work, falls from heights are unfortunately one of the most dangerous hazards on construction sites. Employees often find themselves working at elevations where even a momentary lapse in attention, or a slight misstep, can have catastrophic consequences. Falls can be a result of unstable working surfaces, bad weather conditions, improper use of equipment or even a lack of proper training.
The consequences of falls can be severe, ranging from broken bones to head injuries, spinal damage, or even loss of life. Therefore, addressing this hazard is paramount to maintaining a safe construction site.
To mitigate the risk of falls, construction sites can employ several safety measures:
- Wearing Safety Harnesses
Workers who operate at heights are often required to wear safety harnesses. These harnesses are attached to a secure anchor point, typically via a lanyard or lifeline. In the event of a fall, the harness distributes the force of the fall across the body, reducing the risk of severe injury.
- Installing Guardrails
Guardrails are physical barriers that are installed along the edges of elevated work platforms, such as scaffolding or roofs. They act as a protective barrier to prevent accidental falls. If properly installed, they also provide a visible and physical barrier, helping to keep workers safe.
However, the use of safety equipment alone is not sufficient. Training and adherence to safety protocols are equally critical. Workers must be educated on the proper use of safety equipment and be vigilant about safety guidelines to minimise the risk of falling from a height.
Modern construction heavily relies on electricity to power tools, equipment and lighting. Unfortunately for workers, this means there are increased dangers of electrical hazards on construction sites. Exposed wires and malfunctioning equipment can increase the risk of electrocution, resulting in severe burns, or even cardiac arrest.
Prevention is absolutely key when it comes to mitigating electrical hazards on construction sites and to ensure the safety of your workers. Here are some steps you can take:
- Training workers
Workers should receive thorough training in recognising and avoiding electrical hazards. This includes understanding the importance of maintaining safe distances from live wires, and being vigilant about the potential risks that are associated with electrical systems.
- Have regular inspections
Equipment, power sources, and electrical systems should undergo routine inspections to identify and rectify any issues promptly. Any equipment that is damaged or malfunctioning should be taken out of service until it is repaired or replaced
- Install GFCIs
Ground Fault Circuit Interrupters (GFCIs) are electrical devices that can detect ground faults and quickly disconnect power.
3. Struck by objects
At construction sites, the likelihood of objects being accidentally dislodged or dropped from heights is quite common. These objects could be anything, such as hand tools, building materials or other equipment. However, even a seemingly insignificant tool falling from a height can result in severe head injuries, and the risk of being hit increases when there is a lack of proper organisation and safety procedures.
Wearing Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) can protect workers from potential harm.
- Workers should wear hard hats at all times to safeguard against falling objects from above.
- Safety glasses or face shields should be worn to guard against flying debris or particles that could cause eye injuries.
- Sturdy, steel-toed boots offer protection against objects falling on the feet.
- Proper gloves can reduce the risk of hand injuries: especially when handling sharp or heavy materials.
- To prevent tools from falling down from a height, tethering and lanyards can be used to secure tools to a worker’s person.
PPE should be complemented by proactive safety measures, including proper tool storage, regular equipment inspections, and site organisation.
4. Hazardous Materials
Construction sites usually involve the use and handling of materials that can pose serious health risks if not managed properly. Exposure to hazardous materials on a construction site can occur through inhalation, skin contact and even ingestion.
The most concerning hazardous materials commonly found in construction sites are:
Asbestos was once used for insulation. However, if asbestos fibres are released and inhaled during demolition work they can cause severe respiratory diseases including mesothelioma.
Lead-based paint and materials are still present in older structures. It is extremely dangerous, and exposure to lead can result in lead poisoning, affecting the nervous system and kidneys.
Other chemicals – including solvents, paints and adhesives – can also release harmful fumes, so they need to be handled properly. The health of your construction workers is your top priority. They should all use the appropriate PPE and be thoroughly trained in safe handling procedures. If possible, the area should have proper ventilation to avoid harmful fumes being inhaled.
5. Fire and Explosions
Construction sites are full of electrical equipment and various flammable materials that pose a huge risk of fires. Being able to recognise these dangers and implement effective fire safety measures is vital for protecting your construction workers.
The risk of fire and explosions during construction can stem from many things such as:
- Combustible materials, such as wood and insulation.
- Flammable gases, like propane or natural gas used for heating or welding.
- Ignition sources, such as electrical equipment and welding operations.
To prevent any fire-related accidents, comprehensive fire safety measures need to be implemented.
- Regular site inspections can help to identify potential fire hazards. This includes checking for fuel sources, electrical issues, and the condition of fire prevention equipment.
- Implement safe work practices, such as proper storage of flammable materials and the use of spark-resistant tools in areas where flammable gases are present.
- Ensure that workers are trained in emergency response procedures. This includes knowing the location of fire exits, fire alarms, and fire extinguishers.
Here at The Claims Partnership, we know how devastating injuries at construction sites can be. While prevention is important, accidents can still happen even with proper precautions. If you or a loved one have suffered a serious injury whilst working at a construction site, our experienced team is here to help you. We can advise if you may be eligible for compensation to cover treatment costs and recovery for construction site accidents.