People who work in construction are up to 71% more likely to suffer an injury in the line of work than people in other trades. In addition to causing physical harm to people, these accidents are also highly expensive for companies in the industry. Below are some statistics about construction site safety that you may find very shocking:
- The total annual cost of all construction injuries in the United States is estimated to be more than $11.5 billion.
- In 2019, more than 130,000 construction workers missed days of work due to injuries, wreaking havoc on project timelines.
- The OSHA estimates that construction companies save between $4 and $6 for every $1 that they invest in safety programs.
Safety Talk Ideas have reported on a 2017 study by the Liberty Mutual Workplace Safety Index estimates that serious, nonfatal workplace injuries now amount to nearly $60 billion in direct U.S. worker’s compensation costs per year.
Understanding the most common injuries and how they occur is one way to help mitigate the risk of injuries occurring. Every time these incidents happen, construction firms are at risk of being hit with huge insurance claims and litigation costs that can occur if you are found to be at fault for any safety issues and injuries or loss of life that is sustained during your construction project.
10 most common causes of injuries on construction sites
There are many different factors that can contribute to an accident or injury on a construction site. Here are the ten most common:
1 – Falls. Falls account for one of the most common injuries on a construction site, with hazards such as open floors, incomplete roofing, and uneven or unsupported flooring all being commonplace. Falling can also occur from height, such as from ladders or scaffolding. In the UK, a construction worker has recently been awarded a £900,000 (approx. $1.2million) pay out after being seriously injured when falling just 8 meters in height at work.
2 – Electrocution. Unsurprisingly, working with electricity is extremely dangerous and some of the most serious long-term injuries occur as a result of electrocution. Earlier in 2021, Metropolitan Edison Co. agreed to over $16 million in improvements and a $1 million settlement with state utility regulators following an electrocution death in Northampton County in 2016.
3 – Fires/explosions. There are usually many different flammable materials and chemicals that can be found on a construction site, and unless they are stored and handled appropriately, there is considerable risk attached to their presence and use.
4 – Crush injuries. Crush injuries can be sustained in a number of ways, from becoming trapped between two objects such as a vehicle and wall, to having something fall on top of you. Crush injuries may not cause as much visible damage as other types, but the internal consequences can be horrific.
5 – Machinery/equipment incidents. Heavy and dangerous machinery and equipment is found in abundance on construction sites. Knowing how to operate these safely is absolutely crucial, not only for the user but also for everyone else working on site.
6 – Trench/ground collapse. These can occur when excavations have caused the ground and surrounding area to become unstable, putting workers at risk of the ground collapsing beneath them or falling in around them. In June 2021, The Perecman Firm, P.L.L.C announced that they had secured a $6,000,000 settlement figure on behalf of a union construction worker who sustained serious injuries when the wall of a road trench collapsed in on him while working to repair a water pipe.
7 – Manual handling issues. Manual handling injuries can occur as a result of workers trying to move objects that are too heavy, or by failing to use the correct techniques for lifting, pushing, pulling, and carrying.
8 – Excessive noise and vibrating power tools. Ear defenders should be standard safety wear on any construction site, to help protect against problems like hearing loss and tinnitus. The use of vibrating tools can also have consequences for workers’ health.
9 – Vehicle accidents. In addition to crush trauma caused by vehicles, there are other types of accidents that can occur when lack of training or concentration, poor organization of the site, or inadequate signage can lead to injuries.
10 – Inadequate safety management. Last, but not least, the single most common cause of any accident or injury occurring on a construction site is a lack of proper safety management. This includes many elements, from a comprehensive onboarding process for new workers to successfully managing worker compliance and training records, and more. In 2016, construction firm Monavon Construction Ltd was fined £550,000 (approx. $740,000) and ordered to pay additional prosecution costs after two men, unconnected with the construction company and building site, fell to their deaths as a result of inadequate safety hoarding. This fine represented 28% of the companies’ turnover and was levied after they were found guilty of corporate manslaughter and a breach of the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974.
How to avoid injuries on a construction site
With the responsibility of the safety and well-being of everyone on-site, construction safety managers don’t have an easy role. Fortunately, there are tools that can help you to do your job and reduce the risk of injuries occurring on your construction site. One of the most beneficial is safety management and onboarding software, like GoContractor.
In a typical construction company, being a safety manager involves onboarding and training new workers while they are on-site. At times throughout the week, safety teams have to turn their attention to delivering training. This is time in which they could be supervising and completing walk-throughs, where their presence is truly valuable to the safety of the workers on any given project. Record keeping is also an important element of safety management as you are responsible for ensuring that workers have received the relevant training and are compliant. Failure to do so could put workers at risk, resulting in devastating injuries and expensive insurance claims, and litigation costs.
Here are just a few of the things that safety teams can do to reduce the risk of injury on construction sites and how software like GoContractor can help.
Remote onboarding and training. When onboarding training is accessible online, workers can complete the necessary induction without even stepping foot on the job site. Accessible anytime and anywhere, GoContractor lets safety teams upload site and role-specific training materials in an array of languages, meaning that there is no barrier to a fully comprehensive onboarding process. Meanwhile, safety managers can spend their time on-site supervising the workforce and minimizing the risk of accident and injury.
Training record storage and administration. With so many elements of comprehensive training and onboarding, manually keeping track of which workers have completed which training modules can be tricky. However, going digital, such as by using GoContractor, makes admin tasks much simpler and more straightforward. There are some key benefits of using GoContractor for training record storage and management.
- GoContractor provides one central, digital location for all worker documents, which can be accessed remotely, anytime, and anywhere.
- GoContractor allows safety teams to quickly see if worker documents, qualifications and training are expiring ahead of schedule, so that you can get their compliance back on track before it impacts your project timeline.
- GoContractor even syncs with site access controls, enabling you to ensure that everyone is properly trained and registered before they can come onto the job site. Better still, GoContractor lets you view worker qualifications and grant or deny access remotely too.
Daily health screening. Since the start of the Covid-19 pandemic, daily health screening has become the standard in many workplaces, including construction sites. By asking workers to complete daily screening checklists, you can protect them from contagious viruses and other illnesses that could compromise your workforce and project. Stopping unwell workers from entering the site can also reduce the likelihood of accidents and injuries occurring. This is because people who are sick usually find that their concentration levels are affected by being unwell. Software like GoContractor can automate daily health screening so that it can be completed remotely, while also keeping detailed records of the responses.
Construction site safety is extremely important, and safety managers and teams should explore all of the potential tools at their disposal to help mitigate the risk of accident and injury. Find out about how safety professionals use GoContractor to reduce the risks on their construction projects by scheduling a free demo today.