Prioritizing Occupational Health and Safety in the US Construction Industry

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By Jacob Maslow

In 2020, 1,008 construction industry workers were killed in accidents. This represented 21% of all fatal occupational injuries for that year and shows how critical health and safety in this sector is. The construction industry is vital for the economy, but the high-risk nature of many roles within the sector means employers must do more to provide safety for their workers. The implementation of robust occupational health and safety measures is crucial.

The Impact of Occupational Health and Safety in Construction

Ensuring the safety and well-being of construction workers is of paramount importance. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), the federal agency responsible for overseeing workplace safety, plays a crucial role in setting and enforcing standards within the construction industry. Compliance with OSHA regulations is essential to mitigate workplace hazards, prevent accidents, and protect workers’ lives.

Construction workers work in many challenging environments where the risks of many accidents are significant. Working at height remains one of the most dangerous ways to work, and finding ways to safely protect your employees and your company is vital to avoid accidents.

Understanding the Risks of Working at Height

Working at height is a common task in construction that presents significant risks. Falls from elevated surfaces remain a leading cause of fatalities and serious injuries in the industry. Employers and workers must recognize these risks and implement preventive measures to minimize accidents. Just over one-third of construction deaths were due to falls, slips, and trips in 2021, and finding ways to cut down on the impact of falls is possible with the right protection for workers at height.

OSHA provides plenty of information about fall protection, but putting it in your workplace is different. Employers must find the right protective measures to ensure accidents are minimal. The following measures will help:

1.  Conducting Comprehensive Risk Assessments

Before any work at height commences, it is essential to conduct thorough risk assessments. This involves identifying potential fall hazards, evaluating the need for fall protection systems, and determining the appropriate safety measures. A comprehensive risk assessment helps employers understand the challenges of working at height and develop effective strategies to mitigate risks.

Millions of construction workers climb onto roofs, build the foundations of houses and buildings, and are required to work on scaffolding. Even the most experienced scaffolders and builders can have accidents, especially if you don’t have the right safety measures in place. In the event of an accident, your employees can and will easily access specialist scaffolding accident attorneys. Their legal teams will know exactly where to check for negligence, so ensuring you have the correct risk assessments in place is vital.

2.  Implementing Fall Protection Systems

Implementing appropriate fall protection systems is crucial to protect workers working at height. These include guardrails, safety nets, personal fall arrest systems (PFAS), and aerial lifts. Workers should receive proper training to ensure they understand how to use and maintain these systems effectively. Regular inspection and maintenance of fall protection equipment is essential to ensure their continued functionality.

Duty of care and your construction employees

All employers have a duty of care to their employees and should ensure they have the correct protection and training when working on any part of a construction site. The risk of fatality is much higher when working at height, and the potential cost of human life and irreparable damage to your business should be driving forces behind ensuring you have the right protections in place. 

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