Working in construction is a dangerous way to make a living. Even though only 6 percent of the American workforce is in construction, the industry accounts for 20 percent of on-the-job deaths.

Statistics from the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) indicate that 1 in 10 construction workers will be injured or killed this year on South Carolina jobsites.

But it doesn’t have to be that way. Most construction accidents are preventable with a measure of precaution. There are steps the construction industry and workers themselves can take to reduce the chance of injury or death in construction site accidents.

According to OSHA, most construction accidents involve falls, electrocution, being struck by an object or getting caught in or caught between something. These types of accidents may be prevented by creating a safe jobsite, often through inspections, maintenance, training and using proper equipment.

The keys to creating a safe jobsite – and avoiding construction accidents – include:

  1. Ensuring scaffolding is adequate for the site and properly assembled to prevent falls due to collapse.
  2. Making sure safety harnesses fit and are set up properly to prevent falls, in particular on jobsites several stories up.
  3. Ensuring that holes are covered properly, whether they are up high or at ground level, to make sure workers do not fall in the holes or through inadequate covers.
  4. Making sure indoor floors are not wet to prevent workers from slipping.
  5. Ensuring exits are not obstructed so workers can safely escape in case of fire.
  6. Using trench boxes in excavations to protect workers from cave-ins.
  7. Making sure cranes and other heavy equipment are in proper working order, are the right size for the site and workers are qualified to operate the machinery.
  8. Ensuring all tools are in good working order and have any necessary safety guards in place.
  9. Making sure equipment, such as forklifts, isn’t overloaded to prevent it from tipping over and injuring workers.
  10. Ensuring electrical junction boxes have proper covers to prevent electrocution.
  11. Making sure painters and other workers using toxic chemicals have proper breathing masks so workers are not harmed by the chemicals.

Considering how dangerous construction work can be, it’s imperative for construction companies to do everything they can to protect their workers – from creating a worksite that is as safe as possible to providing proper safety training. Workers should follow regulations and use safety equipment. It’s the best way to help keep construction workers safe and prevent life-altering, and sometimes life-ending accidents.

About the Author

Ken Harrell joined Joye Law Firm in 1994, and has been the managing partner since 2006. With 30 years of experience, he protects the rights of injured South Carolinians, including cases involving workers’ compensation, car accidents, and defective products. Ken also leads the firm’s referral practice, helping to ensure that our clients receive the best possible representation. He is a past president of South Carolina Injured Workers’ Advocates, and has served as the co-chairman of this organization’s legislative affairs committee for 12 years.

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