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Why Construction Safety

Monday, June 13, 2011
Why Construction Safety

The Bureau of Labor Statistics reports over 150,000 construction related injuries per year with over 1,000 fatalities per year. In the construction environment potential hazards can change constantly which unfortunately can take a significant toll on employees, their families, employers and society.

Most construction accidents result from one of the following four hazards:

  • Falls from elevations
  • Electrocution
  • Struck by objects, soil, or equipment
  • Stuck in or between equipment or vehicles.

Why Construction Safety?

It makes good business sense. Projects are planned and scheduled with a specific productivity in mind. No one plans to take a day or more off while an accident investigation is completed. If workers and equipment are idle, no work is being done, no income is being created, but costs continue. Often the direct and indirect costs of an accident can eliminate the profit on a project.

Why Construction Safety?

It makes economic sense. Nationally, the costs of construction accidents reach $13 billion per year which has a significant impact. This money would be better spent on program development and training to prevent accidents.

Why Construction Safety?

It makes legal sense. The OSHA Construction Standard, 29 CFR Part 1926, requires employers to provide a workplace that is free of recognized safety and health hazards. If employers are negligent in not addressing workplace hazards, they can be liable in civil litigation as well as in workers’ compensation cases. In situations when the employer has willful violations that result in fatalities, the employer may also be subject to criminal charges. Employees are required to use safety equipment and follow work practices as prescribed by the employer.

Why Construction Safety?

It makes human sense. No one wants to be the person to tell a wife that her husband was buried in a trench, tell a mother that her son fell from a scaffold, or tell a child that his father was crushed by a truck. Even if an employee escapes a construction accident with his life, injuries can have long lasting effects. The employee may become disabled and not be able to work.

Employers can take some specific actions to prevent accidents:

  • Require pre-job safety briefings before the start of the job and review the job hazards and changes with employees daily.
  • Never allow employees to work in a trench that is five feet deep or more unless it is properly shored, benched or sloped.
  • Prohibit entry into permit required confined spaces unless hazards are known and controlled, an Attendant is present, and the project is managed by an Entry Supervisor.
  • Never allow work on live electrical systems.
  • Always require employees to wear PPE including hard hat, safety shoes, safety glasses and fall protection as required.
  • Coach employees to keep their heads up, eyes open, and to be aware of their surroundings.
  • Control the hazards that can be controlled to avoid placing employees in harms way.

Conduct random site safety audits using a third party such as a consultant.

For more details, and to learn how we can assist in developing an effective construction safety program please contact Dan Bruun, CIH at or 610.524.5525, ext. 17.