The construction industry is a dangerous industry in which to work. In 2015, the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reported that fatal injuries among construction workers rose by 2 percent, the highest level since 2008.
The Occupational Health and Safety Administration (OSHA) states that out of 4,379 worker fatalities in private industry during 2015, a total of 937, or 21.4 percent of them were in construction. That’s one in five worker deaths.
In an effort to improve safety for Ohio construction workers, the OSHA offices in Cincinnati and Columbus, along with Allied Construction Industries, have renewed their partnership in an effort to reduce the number of injuries and deaths on the job.
Partnership Works to Improve Safety on Construction Sites
The two entities first partnered in 2000 and recently renewed that partnership to protect construction workers. The association represents workers in the construction, concrete, masonry, electrical, sheet metal, heating and air conditioning, and finishing trades.
The two groups will continue to work to reduce injuries and accidents on the job through increased training, safety orientations, daily safety meetings, and by requiring employees to follow certain safety procedures and wear the right protective equipment.
Employers, contractors, and sub-contractors will be required to participate in a number of ways, including:
- Implementing written safety and health programs
- Involving workers in safety meetings
- Conducting daily pre-task planning
- Requiring safety huddles and job site inspections
As part of the partnership, OSHA will review these programs at least annually. Employers are also encouraged to focus on the “fatal four” construction hazards: falls, struck-by, electrocutions, and caught-in/between.
Companies Focusing on Fatal Four Construction Hazards
According to OSHA, falls caused 364 out of 937 (38.8 percent) total deaths in construction in 2015, and were by far the biggest construction hazard. Electrocutions and struck-by incidents caused 81 (8.6 percent) and 90 (9.6 percent) fatalities that same year, while caught-in/between hazards caused 67 deaths (7.2 percent).
Altogether, the fatal four caused more than half of construction worker deaths in 2015. Eliminating these hazards would save 602 worker’s lives every year. OSHA offers a Construction “Focus Four” training, which consists of lesson plans on each of the fatal four hazards that employers can use to train and test their employees on avoiding these hazards.
To improve safety in each of these areas, employers are instructed to do the following:
- Falls: Use guardrails, scaffolds, covers, fall arrest systems, safety nets, covers, and restraint systems to reduce the risk of injury and/or death.
- Electrocution: Require employees to use protective equipment and post warning signs to alert workers of electrical risks. Use ground-fault surge protectors, and locate and identify all utilities before beginning work.
- Struck-by: Train workers on proper positioning and require them to always wear high-visibility clothing. Provide required training for equipment and vehicles, and ensure qualification of operators. Maintain all heavy equipment according to safety standards.
- Caught-in/between: Continually reinforce safety standards, and remind employees never to place themselves between a piece of heavy equipment and an immovable object. Make sure trenches are protected by sloping, shoring, benching, and trench shield systems.
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