Construction site accidents happen with alarming frequency. Working in construction is the most dangerous occupation in the United States, and each year, construction workers throughout Oregon and Washington suffer serious – and in many cases life-altering – injuries.
Despite the prevalence of construction site accidents, most of these accidents are avoidable. If contractors, subcontractors, and other entities took the necessary steps to protect construction workers on job sites, there would be far fewer accidents. Yet, as the statistics show, safety violations are common, and companies routinely put their own profits ahead of their workers’ wellbeing.
What Can (and Should) Companies Do to Prevent Construction Site Accidents?
There are many steps that companies can (and should) take to prevent construction site accidents. While companies should take all of these steps as a matter of course, even taking just a few of these steps can drastically reduce the number of job-related injuries on construction sites each year. In order to prevent construction site accidents, contractors, subcontractors, and other employers should:
1. Ensure Adequate Hazard Communication
On construction sites, effective communication is extremely important. From warning signs to labels on chemicals and other dangerous products, many forms of written communication are essential to provide workers with the information they need to stay safe. Verbal communication can also be essential for notifying construction workers of safety hazards in real-time.
2. Provide Adequate Fall Protection
Falls are among the most common causes of construction site injuries and fatalities. By providing adequate fall protection (e.g., installing temporary guardrails and covering holes in flooring), contractors, subcontractors, and other companies can greatly reduce the risk of injury to workers in all trades.
3. Provide Necessary Safety Equipment
Eye protection, ear protection, harnesses, machine guards, and other types of safety equipment are essential to the safe performance of many different jobs on construction sites. Companies should ensure that their workers have the safety equipment they need to avoid unnecessary injuries.
4. Ensure All Ladders and Scaffolding Are Safe for Use
Many construction site falls involve unsafe ladders and scaffolding. Objects falling from ladders and scaffolding also present injury risks for construction workers. Companies operating on construction sites should ensure not only that their ladders and scaffolding are in good condition, but that they are set up and used properly as well.
5. Follow Appropriate Lockout/Tagout Procedures
According to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), electrocutions are the third-leading cause of death on construction sites in the United States. OSHA’s data indicates that nearly one in 10 construction site fatalities is the result of exposure to a hazardous energy source. By consistently following appropriate lockout/Tagout procedures, electrical contractors could significantly reduce the number of electrocutions on construction sites in Oregon and Washington.
6. Provide Respiratory Protection to Workers Who Need It
In addition to other types of safety equipment, respiratory protection is essential for the health and safety of construction workers under any circumstances. OSHA has established specific standards for respiratory protection in the construction industry, and all companies operating on construction sites should ensure that their workers are adequately protected against the risk of inhaling harmful fumes and particulates.
7. Provide Adequate Training and Supervision for the Operation of Forklifts and Heavy Machinery
Forklift and heavy machinery accidents are common on construction sites, and they are frequently the result of inadequate training and supervision. Collisions with other vehicles, reversing accidents, materials being dropped or dumped on workers, and other types of accidents involving forklifts and heavy machinery are to blame for too many avoidable injuries each year.
8. Promptly Remedy Identified Safety Hazards
Sometimes, things happen unexpectedly, and a construction site that was safe can suddenly become dangerous. When this happens, safety hazards must be remedied as soon as possible. If it is not possible to remedy the issue (and placing signs or roping off a hazardous area is insufficient to protect workers), then construction must be halted until it is safe for work to resume.
9. Hire Trained and Skilled Workers
Many construction site accidents happen because workers lack the training and skill they need to perform their jobs safely. Workers will not always know when they are putting themselves and others at risk; and, as a result, it is up to employers to make sure that their employees have the knowledge and capabilities they need in order to avoid causing dangerous accidents.
10. Encourage Workers to Speak Up When They Recognize Concerns
Too often, accidents happen because workers are afraid to speak up about hazards on their job sites. They fear that they will lose their jobs if they complain. In order to make sure that this does not happen, companies should encourage their workers to speak up, and they should make it clear that workers will be rewarded – not fired – when they help prevent job site accidents.
What Can Construction Workers Do to Protect Themselves on the Job?
While contractors, subcontractors, and other companies operating on construction sites are primarily responsible for ensuring workers’ safety, there are steps that construction workers can take in order to help protect themselves as well. These steps include:
- Wear the safety equipment you are provided;
- Rely on your training and do not mimic coworkers’ mistakes;
- Be cautious, and when in doubt, make the decision that keeps you safe;
- Do not try to operate tools, equipment, or machinery with which you are unfamiliar; and,
- Notify your employer when you encounter safety hazards on the job.
Unfortunately, in many cases, there is simply nothing that construction workers can do to avoid being injured on the job. Those who are injured can – and should – seek help. If you need help recovering after a construction site accident in Oregon or Washington, we encourage you to contact us for a free and confidential consultation.
Contact the Job Site Accident Lawyers at D’Amore Law Group
Have you been injured in a construction site accident in Oregon or Washington? If so, our attorneys can help you protect your legal rights and recover just compensation. To discuss your accident in confidence, call us directly or request a free consultation online today.