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In 2016, the construction industry employed as many as 10.3 million people. These workers are at a higher than average risk for injuries. One in five workplace fatalities occurs in construction. For this reason, it is important for employers to comply with safety regulations as outlined by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) as well as other federal, state, and local regulations. There are many steps employers can take to protect workers and prevent construction injuries and fatalities.
Falls are among the most common types of accidents on construction sites. Falls can happen from scaffolding, roofs, and windows and cause catastrophic injuries or even death. Scaffolding should always be erected by qualified personnel and any workers who use the scaffolding must be trained and provided with personal protective equipment if necessary (e.g. personal fall and arrest systems). The scaffolding platforms and components should be able to bear at least four times the intended load and be equipped with guardrails and toe guards. Scaffolding should be regularly inspected for weaknesses and damage.
Another risk to construction workers is being struck by an object on the worksite. Falling tools, materials, or debris can cause head injuries, such as a concussion, or other injuries like lacerations and broken bones. All materials and tools should always be secured. Loads that are being lifted by cranes or other heavy machinery also must be carefully balanced and secured to avoid slipping and striking someone. Hard hats should always be worn on a construction site.
Workers can also be struck by moving vehicles on a busy site. It is important to be aware of traffic flow and equip all vehicles on the premises with back up signals that are loud enough to be heard over the din of ongoing construction. Flaggers should be used when the driver’s rear view is blocked by the load being carried.
To prevent workers from being caught in or pinned between moving objects on a construction site, employers must take precautions such as employing safety guards on machinery so that workers cannot be pulled into moving parts. Excavation work must be properly shored to prevent cave-ins.
Employers must comply with strict standards for electrical wiring and systems.
Citations for electrical violations were on OSHA’s top ten list of citations issued to employers in 2016. Improper use of extension and flexible cords increases the risk of shocks, burns, and fatalities for construction workers. Other risks include contact with overhead and buried electrical lines, and live wiring on site. The power source should always be disconnected and grounds attached before beginning any work on electrical circuits. Electric power tools and all electrical power cords should be regularly inspected for wear and tear to prevent shocks, burns, and fires.
Construction is a dangerous line of work, but many accidents are preventable. Compliance with existing OSHA standards, safety programs and employee training can go a long way toward protecting workers.
If you have been injured, or suffered the loss of a loved one in a construction accident, consult a Wilmington construction accident lawyer at Rhoades & Morrow to discuss your legal options. Call 302-427-9500 or contact us online to schedule a free and confidential consultation in our Wilmington office. We also have offices in Bear and Milford to serve clients throughout the state of Delaware, including those in New Castle County, Kent County, and Sussex County, as well as those in the communities of Bear, Dover, Elsmere, Georgetown, Glasgow, Middletown, Milford, Newark, New Castle, Seaford, Smyrna and Wilmington.