It’s abundantly clear that the construction industry has many inherent risks and hazards which must be managed to provide workers with a safe working environment.
Here’s a list of construction hazards and guidelines to prevent accidents or deaths in the industry:
1. Falls from height: The biggest contributor to injuries and fatalities on construction sites is falling from a height, particularly from scaffolding structures. Some of the most common injuries are caused by a lack of guardrails, insufficient edge protection, unsecured scaffold ladders, and loose materials and tools. It’s vital that contractors implement training in safe work practices when operating at heights.
2. Moving Objects: A construction site is an ever-changing environment, and construction hazards continue to increase as construction is underway. There are many moving objects commonly encountered on construction sites. These include overhead lifting equipment, supply vehicles, and diggers, all of which move around usually uneven terrain.
3. Slips, Trips, and Falls: Slips, trips, and falls can happen in almost any environment. As construction sites often have uneven terrain, buildings at various stages of completion, and unused materials on site, it is unsurprising that slips, trips, and falls are common hazards. HSE reports that several thousand construction workers are injured every year following a slip or trip and that most of these could be avoided by effectively managing working areas and access routes, such as stairwells and footpaths. Those in control of construction sites must effectively manage the site so that workers can move around it safely. Risks should always be reported and sorted to reduce the chances of injury.
4. Excessive Noise: Construction is noisy and, as a result, noise is a common construction hazard. Loud, repetitive, and excessive noise causes long-term hearing problems, such as deafness. Noise can also be a dangerous distraction and may distract the worker from the task at hand, which can cause accidents. It is the employer’s responsibility to carry out a comprehensive noise risk assessment and provide appropriate PPE where necessary.
5. Harmful Airborne Materials: When it comes to construction, using materials that are potentially very dangerous comes with the territory. If workers on-site use damaged PPE or fail to use it properly, then they can expose themselves to harmful materials such as asbestos, as well as dust particles from brick, cement, plaster, and stone. Construction workers are also at risk from frequent handling of toxic substances such as paint, solvents, adhesives, and a variety of other chemicals. This can lead to various eyesight and mouth issues, as well as respiratory conditions such as asthma, asbestosis, and silicosis.
6. Hand Arm Vibration Syndrome: Hand Arm Vibration Syndrome (HAVS) is a painful and debilitating disease of the blood vessels, nerves, and joints. It is usually caused by the prolonged use of hand-held power tools, including vibratory power tools and ground-working equipment. HAVS is preventable, however, once the damage is done, it is permanent. HSE reports that nearly 2 million people are at risk of developing HAVS. Damage from the disease can include the inability to do fine work, and cold temperatures can trigger painful attacks on the fingers.
Construction workers should be given appropriate protection when using vibrating tools, and equipment should be well maintained.