In 2015, construction workers suffered more fatalities than any other industry sector. When the industry began picking up after a prolonged slump, many firms turned to inexperienced newcomers to complete the work. That lack of experience meant safety mistakes, as well as fewer experienced eyes to spot safety hazards and call out the firms engaging in dangerous practices. That trend may continue as firms hire more and more people new to the industry.
A report from the Associated General Contractors of America claims that construction employment is better than it has been since 2008. With many older workers having retired since then, firms fill the gaps with workers just leaving school or changing careers. If these workers do not get the safety training and education they need, the result is more accidents, more injuries and more deaths. An employee with insufficient training is a danger to him- or herself, as well as other workers on the job and even passers-by.
The need to speak up
In addition to substantial training, new workers need to be constantly encouraged to speak up when there is something they don't understand. Asking the right question, instead of plowing forward with a limited understanding, can save lives. The best firms encourage workers to address their concerns and take whatever steps are necessary to ensure that they have the information they need to work safely.
The four hazards highlighted by OSHA include:
- Struck-by incidents
- Caught in or between objects accidents
These accounted for roughly two-thirds of the construction deaths in 2015, with falls accounting for 364 deaths. If new construction workers are trained to identify and avoid these hazards, they face far better odds of avoiding a serious injury.
Source: Safety and Health Magazine, "As construction work increases, so do dangers," by Tom Musick, 26 March 2017