With the nature of the construction industry, it’s no surprise that related work results in quite a number of fatalities. According to Alistair Gibb, Head of Loughborough’s Construction Health and Safety Research Unit, a person passes away every week in construction sites. Not only is that an alarming statement in terms of the safety of the personnel, but it also affects the work. Reportedly, separate accidents and non-fatal injuries account for 2.2 million working days lost per year.
These data only serve to push the need for safety and health risk awareness. But what exactly are the risks construction professionals should look out for? See the list below:
1. Working at dangerous heights
Construction sites often vary in terms of building height, but a fall from any height is likely to kill or severely injure you. A combination of limited mobility, a chance for human error, and misuse of safety equipment can result in major accidents. Falls from heights accounted for 19% of the 65,000 non-fatal accidents on construction sites in 2015/16 and 25 worker deaths in 2016/17.
2. Structural collapse
A construction site will have excavations and the building of trenches. This can weaken the building structure, thus, leading to a collapse of the building. Whether the workers are on the building or are hit by materials falling during the collapse, these can definitely result in injuries. Other times, the excavations can lead to a person falling into it.
3. Constant moving and activity
Depending on how major the construction project is, you’re bound to see vehicles and machinery such as cranes, forklifts, and the like. These machines are constantly moving, increasing the probability for accidents in combination with the moving around of people. You might get hit by these equipment and sustain numerous injuries.
4. Electrical accidents
Electrical hazards are common in a normal household setting with your basic appliances. What more in a construction setting with workers exposed to more dangerous electrical equipment? Combining that with haphazard construction practices such as handling electronics in wet conditions and you’re much more likely to get electrocuted. Only qualified personnel should be handling these machines and dealing with wires, cables, power lines and the like.
5. Manual handling
Because construction is a very hands-on activity, workers have to constantly do heavy lifting and use tools to perform their tasks. This increases the likelihood of workers developing musculoskeletal disorders. One such disorder is called hand and vibration syndrome (HAVS), which is due to continual use of handheld power tools. Damage of HAVS is permanent, and this causes difficulty in simple everyday tasks such as holding a glass of water, let alone working in construction.
6. Exposure to harmful chemicals
A lot of the materials workers are exposed to are harmful. Dust particles, asbestos, toxins, etc. are some of the top causes of respiratory-related diseases. In fact, the construction industry is a top contributor to the development of these diseases. Manual handling of potentially dangerous and corrosive substances also opens up workers to developing debilitating conditions later in life.
If you’ve ever been near a construction site, you know just how much noise occurs in one. This becomes more apparent for the people actually working in the site. Hearing all these loud noises can eventually take a toll on your hearing capabilities. Not only that, loud noises can cause distractions and moments of being startled, increasing the chance for accidents to happen.
8. Physical and mental exhaustion
A construction worker’s life is quite stressful, with long work hours under unpredictable working conditions and weather. Not giving enough time for rest will eventually lead to physical and mental exhaustion. A worker’s overall well-being could just give out due to the stress, and if the worker survives, it could then spark a movement to leave for less stressful workloads.
These health and safety hazards affect several facets of a construction project. Factors affected include well-being of workers, employee morale, safety of the resulting building, and delivery time of the project. That’s why construction professionals are highly encouraged to take precaution and address these risks carefully and properly. That way, projects run smoothly with little to no unfortunate accidents and incidents.