Construction Site Safety
The following post is by guest blogger, Jason Kane. Jason is a former construction foreman and avid construction blogger. He writes on behalf of Fall Protection USA, a provider of construction safety equipment.
The real estate market is on the mend with new housing starts on the rise. According to a January report from Reuters, new construction permits are rising at a rate not seen since 2008 with current numbers at 903,000. Groundbreaking on new homes rose 8.1% in December to 616,000 housing starts.
With that, construction site accidents are also likely to rise. At the peak of the housing boom, construction site fatalities totaled 1224 according to NIOSH (National Institute of Occupational Safety and Health). In 2011, the tail end of the real estate slump, deaths were dipped almost 50% to 721. There is a direct correlation between housing starts and workplace injuries. Since 2008, construction site accidents have declined steadily at 7% per year. In this market recovery, the bottom line will be watched closer than ever before and will contribute to safety hazards by adding tight deadlines to housing projects.
For the construction industry, OSHA has listed the ‘fatal four’ – the top four causes of death to workers and account for 57% of all construction fatalities in 2011. These were falls (35%), electrocutions (9%), struck by an object (10%), and caught-in/between (3%). According to this report, 410 lives would be saved each year by being more cautious with these four elements.
Laborers involved with public projects report more accidents than their counterparts in the private sector. OSHA reports that public works employees reported injuries at a rate of 5.7 per 100 workers, versus 3.5 per 100 workers in the private sector. Although the reasons vary widely, workplace safety measures are often the root cause; public projects, funded by state and local governments, have strict reporting policies that result in better documentation.
Construction site injuries account for 15% of all workers’ compensation claims with 92,540 incidents reported in 2009. The construction industry experiences the seventh-highest ranking for non-fatal workplace injuries. The largest portion of those injuries involved the spine, limbs and trunks. Workers between the age of 25 and 34 are most likely to be involved in a construction site incident.
Although injuries are always a risk in the construction industry, preventative measures taken would keep accidents to a minimum. OSHA requires ‘workers to be provided protective clothing and equipment specific to their duties. Materials include hardhats, goggles, safety masks, gloves, safety boots, coveralls and protection harnesses.’ They also stipulate the employer assess risk of each situation and take safety measures accordingly. Safety is relies on training and awareness. When it is brought to the forefront, accidents can be prevented.