In 2018, the construction industry led all industries with 1,008 fatal work industries.Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics
Fix the Six
If you’re a construction safety veteran, your safety program is well established and falls in line with OSHA requirements. Regularly reviewing and training employees to the standard of the applicable codes and regulations is a proactive way to ensure compliance. When your program serves up the right information to employees, you create a culture that highlights safety. This is especially true if you work for clients that require an even more stringent prequalification process.
With so many topics available for employee safety, there are a few that should receive your attention a little more. This is because these topics/activities are generally considered the most hazardous, the most cited, and the most risky. While regular trainings are required, sometimes safety knowledge is taught via tribal knowledge transfer. Additional formalized training, especially for these high risk topics, is a huge improvement for cultivating a safety culture. Here are the top 6 training courses for the construction industry that address high risk activities:
1. Fall Protection and Ladder Safety
Falls are the leading cause of construction-worker fatalities, accounting for one-third of on-the-job deaths in the industry. And, according to CPWR (Center for Construction Research and Training), 61% of fatal falls in construction occurred in small businesses with fewer than 10 employees.
The layers of OSHA regulation that protect workers focus on proper use and installation of safety systems, supervision, safe work procedures, maintenance and more. Regarding ladder safety, it’s important to review selecting the right ladder, proper set up, precautions and emergency guidelines. Most fall and ladder accidents are preventable when following OSHA guidelines. If you have questions about the training, please reach out to us, or click here to learn more.
2. Electrical Safety: Qualified and Non-qualified
Construction industry accounted for 54% of all electrical fatalities, the same percentage as in 2017. The good news is that overall electrical fatalities are trending downward.
The first step towards electrical safety is controlling or eliminating factors in your workplace that pose electrical hazards. Ground fault electrical shock happens to be the most common electrical hazard in construction sites. With the appropriate training, your employees are equipped to use safe work practices.
*IMPORTANT* Only “qualified” persons should work directly with exposed energized parts. High voltages, grounding, electric current, arcing and the lack of guarding are among the inherent hazards of electricity these “qualified” persons should be familiar with.
3. Excavations: Trenching/Shoring
Excavation and trenching are among the most hazardous construction operations, with cave-ins posing the greatest risk. With 100 lbs. per square foot (psf) stress load on a cubic foot column of soil, a vertical load five feet down is 500 psf. Without proper safety procedures, buried alive can become a very real occurrence.
It’s up to you and your employer to provide a safe work environment and ensure that workers follow safety procedures, but it’s also up to your employees to follow safety regulations and safe work procedures.
Scaffolds can be erected at heights in excess of 125 feet – a height equal to 3.5 yellow school buses stacked, end to end. At these heights, more than 4,500 injuries and 60 deaths stem from scaffold-related incidents happen each year. If your workers work at height using scaffolding, the design and construction must be closely monitored to protect workers from falls and other hazards.
Regular safety training on scaffolding proper operation, maintenance, best practices, hazard training and more reduces the potential for accidents.
5. Heavy Equipment-Earthmoving and Cranes
Vehicles and mobile heavy equipment were a major source of fatalities in construction, resulting in 7,681 deaths from 1992 to 2010, about 404 deaths annually. Following the injury trend in construction, the number of such deaths reached 470 in 2006 and dropped to 271 in 2010. Most of those deaths are with laborers – almost double the next type of worker.
This category might be most prone to tribal knowledge, with machines that have immense power if used improperly. Regular, formalized training – even beyond what is required – will contribute to a culture of safety knowledge.
6. Confined Space Entry
Are your workers one of the 2.1M workers that enter permitted confined spaces annually? In 2018, NIOSH investigations of confined space incidents revealed that 85% of the time a supervisor was present, 15% had confined space training, and 0% had a rescue plan.
75% of the deaths involved routine maintenance and repair. It’s vitally important for your workers to be able to recognize a confined space, know the dangers to watch for, test to see if the space is safe, evaluate how to make it a safe work environment, and finally, continue to monitor the space.
Regular Training Builds Safety Culture
Whether your company has a narrow focus of construction activities, or has more of a broad spectrum of activities, hazards are a part of any job. It can be hard to address them when you have many employees, as well as departments, with different work conditions.
There is regular training required by OSHA, but consider additional training – above what is required – for those activities that have increased risk and hazards. By regularly educating and training your employees about these high risk workplace activities, you better ensure they follow the right standards and regulations in your company. More importantly, you contribute to a culture of safety, dedicated to keeping employees safe.
While requirements may vary between industries and locations, effective, ongoing safety training should be a priority for businesses of all types and sizes. Safety Services Company provides training solutions that are both flexible and scalable to meet the needs of our customers.
 Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Construction Fall Fatalities Still Highest Among All Industries: What more can we do?; Elizabeth Garza; April 10, 2019;