Safety is the number-one priority on any job site, and it’s everyone’s responsibility to know the rules. OSHA, the organization responsible for setting safety standards to protect workers and for conducting reviews to ensure companies follow these standards to the letter, releases data every year to highlight the top violations.
In reality, the top 10 violations rarely change from year to year. These slip-ups are so common, they might be occurring on your job site too:
- Fall Protection – includes having a safe surface on which to work, protection against falling through holes, guardrails and other preventative measures, etc.
- Hazard Communication – includes proper labelling of hazardous materials, like chemicals, flammable materials or radiation, as well as food and drink ingredients.
- Scaffolding – includes regulations regarding the size, stability and proper use of scaffolding to prevent collapse and/or falls.
- Respiratory Protection – includes standards for air quality and respirators, and emergency procedures for anyone who inhales contaminants. Airborne viruses and chemical fumes are just two potential respiratory hazards.
- Lockout / Tagout – includes safety measures to prevent equipment from starting up or mobilizing while being serviced.
- Ladders – includes specifications for weight bearing loads, rung sizes and distances, clearances, and supportive measures to prevent falls.
- Powered Industrial Trucks – includes the proper designation and use of industrial trucks for hauling specific materials.
- Machine Guarding – includes requirements for guarding employers or workers from exposed or moving machine parts.
- Fall Protection Training Requirements – includes standards for training all workers in the prevention of falls.
- Electrical Wiring Methods – includes all electrical wiring safety standards necessary for preventing electrocution, electrical fires, etc.
Falls Are the Most Common Cause of Death on Job Sites
The fact that OSHA finds so many violations in fall protection, scaffolding, ladders and fall protection training might not seem so alarming if you assume no one gets hurt despite these violations. Unfortunately, the major cause of death on a construction site is, in fact, falling. OSHA reports that 38.8% of all workplace deaths occur because of a fall. Using proper safety measures and holding workers accountable for following through with safety protocols are just two steps that can prevent a tragic accident.
Don’t wait for an accident to occur or to be cited by OSHA for failing to comply with safety standards. It’s not only the site manager who needs OSHA training, but also all individual workers. When everyone is on the same page as far as what’s safe and what’s dangerous, accidents can truly be avoided. OSHA training does not have to be difficult. You and your crew can participate in OSHA 30 hour online training courses, for example.
The Fatal Four
In addition to falling, three other accidents make up nearly two-thirds of all construction worker deaths. Together, they are known as the “fatal four.”
- Being struck by an object
- Caught in between
The very word “accident” implies that it is difficult to prevent these occurrences, but there is something that can be done to prevent death or reduce the risk of injury. For example, wearing a hard hat on the construction site can protect workers from potentially fatal head injuries if debris falls on top of them.
There are no shortcuts to safety. Know the facts and statistics that are relevant for your industry. Don’t assume that you or your employees are “too experienced” to fall victim to an accident. Regularly review OSHA safety standards, make sure your employees are trained, and point out (and correct!) safety violations whenever you see a problem. Your employees and their families will appreciate your attention to safety!