Construction work may not receive the same amount of attention as police work and firefighting, but anyone involved in the industry knows how dangerous the job can be. There are a number of safety violations that OSHA tasks companies with avoiding, but if you're a construction worker, the fact that your company might get fined if you have an accident isn't much comfort. LipsigBrooklyn.com also states that when workers work with power tools, electricity, and from great heights, there is a high chance of being injured. The good news is, you can take your safety into your own hands by watching out for the following safety violations in our latest guest blog post. Read on & Stay Safe!
Improper fall protection accounts for nearly 40 percent of total deaths in construction. Falls typically result from unstable surfaces or the improper use of equipment. This can include not providing rails, not using the correct ladder for the task and having a lack of warning lines to mark where the worker is in relation to the edge. OSHA requires fall protection for anyone working six feet or more off the ground.
Scaffolding is required for heights of 10 feet or more. They should be able to hold at least four times their weight, and each platform should be hole-free from the uprights to the guardrails. OSHA insists that each scaffold be inspected and later re-inspected by someone who can do so competently.
Companies have to communicate the hazards of the chemicals you're exposed to while on the job. This communication includes labeling, data sheets and employee training for each chemical. Labeling hazards also includes putting warning lines on platforms and ladders.
Head and Face Protection
There are plenty of heavy materials being moved about on construction sites, and being struck by one of these materials accounts for nearly 10 percent of deaths in the industry. Companies are not allowed to force workers to work without head protection. Additionally, OSHA's 2016 ruling on permissible silica dust allows workers to use the latest protective eye and face gear.
Electrocutions made up 8.6 percent of construction deaths in 2015, in stats that tend to stay the same from year to year. Using temporary wiring and improperly grounding electricity are common violations. On rare instances when extension cords are allowed, it's a violation to run them through holes in walls and ceilings. Part of ensuring that scaffolds pass inspection includes keeping them at least 10 feet away from power lines.
Employers must train their employees, and they must put in writing that the employee has been properly trained. If necessary, they must retrain the employee. As a construction worker, you have the right to proper training; being without it is a hazard to you, as well as to your coworkers.
What Can You Do?
- If you see something that's out of place or that looks like it doesn't meet regulations, say something. If you don't feel that you've had enough training relating to whatever you're working on, say so rather than trying to figure it out as you go along. In doing so, you potentially create an atmosphere where your co-workers feel comfortable doing the same thing.
- Ask questions. If you don't know what you're supposed to do, or if you're unsure whether the task is safe, ask about it. If you've had an experience related to a potential safety violation, share your story. Concrete examples often reach people better than abstract concepts.
- In addition, if you hear about an accident on the news, make sure that your construction site has safeguards in place to prevent the same thing from happening there.
- In every case, make sure you're communicating your thoughts and concerns. By using your voice, you remind your employer of their role in protecting you and your co-workers, so make sure you do so.
Construction sites will likely never be considered one of the safest work environments in the world, but through awareness and communication, you can take ownership of your own safety and help reduce hacards for your coworkers and fines for your company. In doing so, you do your part in crafting a working culture that does things the right way and minimizes risks.
Tom Moverman established the Lipsig Brooklyn Law Firm with Harry Lipsig and his partners in 1989; The firm’s focus is in products liability, personal injury, construction accidents, car accidents and medical malpractice.
Related Link: Safety & Protection Products from A.H. Harris