There are many causes of accidents on a construction site. Many are often attributed to some form of negligence and may involve unsafe work areas, misuse of tools and equipment, and failure to use protective equipment. The following discusses the nine most common examples of construction site accidents.
- Unsafe Working Areas – Injuries due to slip and falls are among the most common on a construction site. Unsafe conditions include uncovered holes or trenches and exposed stakes and rebars (which implement hazards to those working or walking above them).
- Falling Hazards – A common injury that occurs when a worker near an open-sided floor focusing on his work, steps backwards or to the side without looking. Another falling hazard occurs on stairwells with no guardrails. In this kind of accident, workers frequently land on their heads or shoulders.
- Misuse of Stepladders – This is one of the leading causes of injury and long-term disability in Washington. An injury can occur when a worker falls from a tipped-over stepladder. Another accident that can occur with stepladders is when tools are left on the top platform. When someone moves the ladder, the tools fall on someone’s head. Using household ladders on a construction site can also lead to accidents, as these types of ladders cannot take the weight and stress of a construction worker with tools.
- Roof Construction Falls – The number one cause of death in construction occurs where no fall protection is provided. Falls can occur when anchors (designed to provide fall arrest with an attached lifeline) are not properly attached or more than one lifeline is on a single anchor.
- Scaffolding Problems Washington State regulations mandate that a “competent person” must supervise erecting scaffolds. This is someone capable of identifying hazards and who has the authority to take prompt corrective measures. Despite these regulations, scaffolding accidents still occur through unsafe access to scaffolds and tools and other materials falling off scaffolding and injuring workers.
- Collapsed Excavation Walls and Trenches – In the state of Washington, collapsed excavation walls or trenches kill an average of two workers each year. The weight of soil (2000-3000 pounds per yard) prevents a trapped worker from breathing, leading to death within minutes.
- Power Tool Accidents – These accidents are frequently caused by not using appropriate eye and ear protection. Nail gun injuries have increased each year making eye injuries quite common. It’s not surprising given that a nail comes out of the gun with the equivalent force of a .22 caliber bullet. Also, not having proper guards in place on the power tools can lead to cuts and amputations.
- Lifting/Body Straining – The number one cause of injuries, disability claims and medical costs in construction are soft tissue injuries-strains, sprains and chronic injuries. These are a result of lifting with the back instead of using the legs and not using panel lifters when carrying sheets of drywall, plywood, or siding.
- Vehicle Accidents – Forklift accidents are responsible for workers’ deaths each year in Washington. A common accident occurs when turning or maneuvering the forklift with the load raised. Another dangerous construction site vehicle is the dump truck. A frequent accident involves the dump truck backing up and hitting a pedestrian.
As you can see, a construction site can be quite dangerous. However, many of these accidents can be avoided through common sense and protective measures. Prevention begins with adequate awareness and a properly maintained working environment that is safe and secure.