Forget cemeteries and spooky mansions. If you really want to see a scary place, look no further than the nearest construction site. According to the National Safety Council (NSC), construction can be considered the most dangerous industry in terms of workplace fatalities. Watch out for the biggest dangers lurking around your construction sites.
Walking under a ladder can be bad luck, but on a construction site you should really worry about not following OSHA standards for ladders.
According to YouGov America, 28% of American adults are afraid of heights. When you consider how many people are injured and even killed in falls each year, this fear seems quite reasonable. According to the NSC, 805 workers died in falls in 2020 and 211,640 were injured so badly that they needed to take days off work.
OSHA says falls are the leading cause of death in the construction industry. In 2020, 351 workers died in falls to a lower level. That is about a third of the total 1,008 deaths in the construction industry.
Fall safety is also a leading cause of OSHA violations. In fiscal year 2021, many of the most commonly cited standards were related to heights and falls.
- Fall protection, construction, was the most commonly cited standard.
- Ladders, construction, was the third most common standard.
- Scaffolding, construction, was the fifth most common standard.
- Fall protection training, construction, was the sixth most commonly cited standard.
A single violation can result in a $14,502 penalty, and employers can be hit with one violation every day for failure to abate, so those fines can add up quickly. For example, Construction Dive says a Maine contractor faces fines of more than $500,000 after inspectors found employees were exposed to falls of 10 to 18 feet. The fine is contested, but it can be an expensive penalty.
We tend to take the air we breathe for granted. The thought of not being able to breathe, or being harmed by the very air around us, is terrifying enough for a horror movie.
Unfortunately, respiratory hazards on construction sites are a real threat. OSHA says the possible hazards include lead dust and fumes, which can arise from grinding, welding, cutting or brazing surfaces that have been coated with lead-based paint. Silica dust, solvent fumes and isocyanate fumes are also possible threats.
Some of these hazards cause a quick reaction, but some can cause lung cancer and other disease years or even decades later.
Construction site managers can help keep their workers safe by implementing engineering controls, work practice controls, and administrative controls, as well as the use of appropriate respirators and a respiratory protection program. Unfortunately, some construction sites may not be doing enough to keep workers safe. Respiratory protection, general industry, was the second most cited OSHA standard in 2021.
Vehicles and machinery
Even if machines aren’t possessed like the car in Stephen King’s Christine, they can still be very dangerous. When machines are switched on unexpectedly, serious injuries can result. On construction sites, workers are also exposed to hazards by being hit, crushed by, or caught between machinery.
In 2021, Control of Hazardous Energy (Lockout/Tagout), General Industry, was the seventh most commonly cited OSHA standard. Motorized industrial trucks, general industry, was the ninth most cited standard, and machinery and machinery protection, general industry, was the tenth most cited standard.
Eye and face hazards
Many people look away when horror films show the eye. Our eyes are particularly vulnerable, and the thought of an eye injury is alarming. Eye damage can also lead to serious vision loss, so that’s a reasonable fear.
Hazards on the construction site can cause eye injuries, so safety is important. However, eye and face protection, construction, was the eighth most commonly cited OSHA standard in 2021.
Keep your construction site safe this Halloween and all year long
October is a good time to review your construction site safety procedures.
- Are you in full compliance with OSHA’s most commonly cited standards? Save yourself a hefty fine – and possibly prevent an incident – by taking corrective action now.
- Are you taking steps to reduce common risks in the construction industry? OSHA has information, tools and resources to help.
There is one more scary risk to watch out for – the financial exposure of not having the right New York construction insurance you need when you need it. BNC designs bespoke insurance and risk management packages for contractors. Read more.