Thanks to the labor movement and Occupational Health Safety Administration (OSHA), on-the-job deaths in the U.S. are down 67 percent since 1970. However, there are still dangers, specifically in certain industries.
One in five worker deaths in 2013 occurred in the construction industry.
What makes the construction industry so risky for workers?
796 deaths were reported in the construction industry last year. Of those, nearly 37 percent were caused by falls from scaffolds and other elevations.
Another 10 percent were the result of being struck by an object, such as falling debris, materials, or heavy equipment.
Most construction sites are in a constant state of flux: heavy equipment, machines, and scaffolds are all moving around. Add multiple levels, and you multiply the risk of injury.
Construction workers often do repetitive tasks for hours at a time. They must continuously communicate with other crew members, and are usually on a tight deadline.
This pattern leads to both cognitive and muscular fatigue.
Research conducted by the Center for Construction Research and Training shows these conditions contribute to unsafe work places.
3. Safety Standards Are Sometimes Violated
Construction worksites are organizationally complex. There are usually multiple employers, and both the general contractor and sub-contractors have a legal obligation to keep the worksite reasonably safe.
Employers also have a legal duty to warn workers of the dangers at the site, and properly train their workers to perform their jobs safely.
While most employers want to protect their employees, others continue to take shortcuts. This can expose them to serious dangers even after receiving citations from OSHA for known hazards.
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