Construction Safety Equipment

Construction is one of the most dangerous occupations. The number of fatalities in the construction industry is the highest compared to all other industries. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported that “out of 4,674 worker fatalities in private industry in the calendar year 2017, 971 or 20.7 percent were in construction.”[1] Despite the danger, the construction industry continues to grow. 

The building construction industry in the U.S. is expected to record a Compound Annual Growth Rate (CAGR) of 5 percent to reach USD 1,428.5 billion by 2024, according to a report released by Business Wire [2].

Safety Risks

Although the risk of injuries on the job sites is high, with a proper construction safety plan and the right safety equipment, you can greatly reduce the chances of a major injury and lessen the chances of death. 

Safety Risks

There’s no doubt that the construction industry is a vital part of the world’s economy.  The U.S. is one of the largest construction markets in the world,  with expenditures reaching over 1,293 billion U.S. dollars [3]. In 2018, the industry employed almost 11.2 million people in the U.S. [4]. With the industry continuing to grow, it’s important to understand all the safety risks in construction. 

Safety risks in construction include:

  • The “Fatal Four”: This is the leading cause of deaths in the construction industry. The “Fatal Four” are: falls from heights, being struck by an object, electrocution, and caught inside or compressed by equipment or objects. These accidents were responsible for more than half the construction worker deaths in 2018 [4]. 
  • Slips, Trips, and Falls—This is among the most common causes of injury in U.S. workplaces in general[5]. Construction slips, trips, and falls are mostly caused by uneven surfaces, obstacles, trailing cables, wet or slippery surfaces, and changes in level.
  • Falls from heights—According to the CDC,  more than 300 construction workers die each year and more than 10,000 more are seriously injured by falls from heights [6]. Falls generally occur from unprotected edges or openings, roof work, unstable materials, from ladders, from scaffolds, from places of work on an existing facility, and on stairways.
  • Falling objects—This includes falling objects from an upper level, equipment, or from the collapse of structures and debris from a trench collapse. 
  • Electric shock and arc flash/arc blast—Poorly maintained electrical equipment or work near an overhead power line put workers at risk.
  • Machinery—Risks include roll-over of large construction equipment, objects falling onto the equipment, and malfunctioning safety and other warning devices on large vehicles. 
  • Failure to use personal protection equipment (PPE)— PPE protects employees against falling objects, debris, chemical and biological exposure, and moving vehicles. 
  • Repetitive motion injuries—These are temporary or permanent injuries to muscles, nerves, ligaments, and tendons caused by performing the same motion over and over again.
  • Noise— Loud, repetitive, and excessive noise causes long term hearing problems, such as deafness and tinnitus.

Preventing Injuries

Close to 6.5 million people work at approximately 252,000 construction sites across the nation on any given day [7]. Ensuring construction site safety will keep your workers are healthy and your business profitable. Here are three ways to prevent injuries on your job site:

  • Have a construction safety plan—This is a blueprint for keeping your workers safe. According to OSHA, your safety plan should be a written document that describes the process for identifying the physical and health hazards that could harm workers, procedures to prevent accidents, and steps to take when accidents occur [8]. OSHA recommends that each written plan includes the following basic elements:
  • Policy or goals statement
  • List of responsible persons
  • Hazard identification
  • Hazard controls and safe practices
  • Emergency and accident response
  • Employee training and communication
  • Recordkeeping
  • Conduct construction safety training—Regular training on how to use machinery, safety protocol, and PPE is a vital part of preventing injuries. OSHA’s safety training and education rule(29 CFR 1926.21) states that the employer must train each employee in the recognition and avoidance of unsafe conditions to control or eliminate any hazards or other exposure to illness or injury [9].
  • Construction safety gear—Proper PPE should be worn at all times when on construction sites, and during the use of other safety equipment.

Construction Safety Equipment

When it comes to protecting workers on job sites, construction safety gear is the best option, and often time, economical. Construction safety products guard workers against accidents and prevent injuries. In the construction industry, there are some common construction safety supplies that workers must have:

  • Helmets or hard hats—Due to the risk of falling objects, head injuries are very common in construction. Hard hats protect workers from striking head injuries as well as protect workers from rain, direct sun rays, and electric shock. 
  • Hi-vis clothing—The use of high visibility clothing reduces the chances of a“struck-by” accident on construction sites.
  • Safety footwear—Slips, trips, and falls are common accidents at job sites. Falls from heights are of particular concern in the construction industry. Every worker on a construction site should wear anti-skid or gripping boots and steel or composite toe boots to prevent foot injury from falling objects. 
  • Ear protection—Prolong exposure to noise from machinery and equipment can damage hearing capability.  The use of earplugs or other hearing protection reduces the effect of noise pollution.
  • Eye and face protection—Face injuries occur due to exposure to hazardous particles while working with concrete, grinding, cutting, welding, and nailing. The use of eye safety goggles along with safety glasses, wear face masks, welding shields, chemical splash goggles, and dust goggles will protect workers from facial injuries. 
  • Gloves—Using heavy-duty gloves while working helps workers avoid hand injuries like cuts and burns. The type of glove will vary depending on the tasks. 
  • Wheel chocks—Chocking all vehicle wheels when not in use or parked on an incline can prevent unintentional movement.
  • Warning whips—Warning whips on smaller equipment can increase visibility.
  • Cable protectors—Cable protection systems provide a safer method of passing traffic while protecting valuable electrical cables, cords, and hose lines from damage.

Keeping employees safe in the construction industry takes planning and continuous training. With the help of dependable and durable safety equipment, keeping workers safe is simple and affordable.

Sources:

  1. https://www.bls.gov/iif/oshwc/cfoi/cfch0016.pdf
  2. https://www.businesswire.com/news/home/20200330005548/en/
  3. https://www.statista.com/topics/974/construction/
  4. https://www.osha.gov/data/commonstats
  5. https://injuryfacts.nsc.org/work/work-overview/top-work-related-injury-causes/
  6. https://www.cdc.gov/niosh/docs/2019-128updated052019/pdfs/2019-128updated052019.pdf?id=10.26616/NIOSHPUB2019128updated052019
  7. https://www.osha.gov/Publications/OSHA3252/3252.html
  8. https://www.osha.gov/SLTC/etools/logging/safety_health.html
  9. https://www.osha.gov/laws-regs/regulations/standardnumber/1926/1926.21#1926.21(b)(2)