How can employers prevent the top four construction hazards?

Every Pennsylvania worker has the right to a safe workplace and it is the duty of every employer to make that workplace free from known dangers. The federal agency known as the Occupational Safety and Health Administration was set up to issue and enforce protective workplace safety and health standards.

According to data published by OSHA, the four most prevalent causes of construction worker accidents are falls, being struck by workplace materials or vehicles, being caught in between workplace materials and electrocutions. Several measures have been prescribed by OSHA to prevent workplace injury and employers are expected to comply.

Workers should wear personal fall-arrest equipment to prevent falls while working. Employers should install and maintain perimeter protection. Floor openings should be covered and labeled to alert the workers performing duties nearby. Ladders and scaffolds should be carefully constructed and used by workers.

Workers themselves can prevent being struck by vehicles or equipment by wearing high visibility clothes, being alert while on site and not positioning themselves between moving and fixed objects.

Workers should be careful not to enter an unprotected trench or excavation deeper than 5feet, if adequate protective systems are not in place. Trenches or excavations should be protected by sloping, shoring, bench or trench-shield systems, according to safe operating practices used to prevent construction accidents.

Electrocution can be prevented by identifying the position of overhead power lines and maintaining a safe distance while working. Portable electronic tools should not be used unless they are grounded or double insulated. Ground fault-circuit interrupters should be used for protection. Construction workers should be aware of electrical lines when working with ladders or scaffolds or operating any equipment.

When a construction accident is caused by employer negligence or violation of any safety measure, the injured worker may be entitled to compensation. The OSHA website provides details regarding rights of workers while on the job.

Source: OSHA.gov, "Top Four Construction Hazards," Accessed on Nov. 4, 2014

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