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PROPERTY & CASUALTY
MAY 17, 2021
Avoid OSHA’s Fatal Four Construction Hazards
As we move into construction’s busiest time of the year, now is the time to review your safety policies and procedures to ensure your workers are adequately protected from the Occupational Safety and Health Association's (OSHA) Fatal Four Construction Hazards.
Falls are the number one cause of construction deaths, accounting for a third of all construction fatalities, according to OSHA. Since most construction projects have a variety of elevations and hazards that contribute to falls, it isn’t surprising that this is the deadliest of the “Fatal Four” accidents.
Here’s an overview of three steps to help keep your employees safe from a deadly fall:
Have a plan
: You can minimize the risk of falls for employees by starting where most every good worksite manager starts — a plan. The plan considers the work that needs to be done and the process for getting the work done. These considerations lead to the identification of needed safety equipment for the job, which should be included as part of the job specs and financials.
Acquire/install necessary equipment
: Once the full details of the plan are finalized, ensure you have the safety equipment onsite and installed before workers are exposed to any potential fall hazards. This might include installing the appropriate guardrails and scaffolding or having ladders and safety gear available.
Train your employees
: Don’t assume your employees know how to use the equipment or safety gear. Make sure to train them on how to identify a potential fall hazard, and then how to protect themselves by using the available safety tools appropriately.
Minimizing “Struck-By” on Your Work Site
More than three quarters of “struck-by" construction fatalities involve individuals injured by movement of heavy equipment and trucks and involve either the driver or other workers on the site.
Here are some important tips to consider:
Heavy equipment operators
Drivers need to inspect their vehicles before each shift and make sure their braking systems are operational
Avoid using reverse unless a visible employee tells you it is safe to back up and your vehicle has a backup alarm
Only drive on safe roadways and grades
Don’t dump or lift without making sure both you and all other employees are in the clear
Bulldozers, scraper blades, dump bodies, etc. should be left in the lowest position and in neutral when not in use
If your vehicle is being loaded by a crane or power loader, you must have a cab shield or canopy that protects you from falling objects
Everyone should be dressed in highly visible clothing
Hard hats should always be worn
Material should be stored in a way that prevents sliding or falling
When working with power tools, safety equipment like goggles, face shields, and hard hats are a must to ward off flying material from your body
Avoiding Electrical Incidents
Many employees do not understand the potential for electrocution when working at a jobsite. These hazards are everywhere — from making contact with a power line or not having the appropriate ground fault protection, to lacking a continuous path to the ground or using an extension cord improperly.
Power lines pose a danger both in the air and under the ground. Underground lines should be marked before any construction begins, and whenever possible, overhead lines should be de-energized.
Lack of ground-fault protection often occurs over time from the normal wear and tear when using electrical equipment. Ground Fault Circuit Interrupters should be used on all 120-volt receptacles, and double insulated equipment should be used. All electric equipment should be inspected for missing ground prongs, cracked casings, or exposed wires before it is turned on. Any faulty equipment should be removed from inventory and clearly marked until it has been fixed.
Trenching and Excavation Accidents
Trenching and excavation accidents can occur when the soil hasn’t been analyzed properly to ensure the appropriate sloping method was used to prevent a cave-in, or if weather or atmospheric changes were not evaluated by a competent person to ensure no risk is present to the workers. In fact, a competent person should inspect the excavation site before each shift begins, as needed throughout the day and following a rainstorm or when any other potential risk is present.
According to OSHA, a competent person:
Has training in the use of protective systems
Is knowledgeable about OSHA requirements
Has authority to immediately evacuate workers from the excavation and ensure that hazardous conditions are addressed
The competent person should verify that:
The trench uses the appropriate protective system
There is adequate ventilation if hazardous atmospheres have developed throughout the course of the day
Any standing water is evaluated and that the soil is retested after rainstorms
There is safe access into and from the trench
All excavated material is stored safely away from the trench and, if needed, that trench boxes are used to protect the integrity of the trench from nearby falling debris
For more information, please contact your local Amerisure Risk Management Consultant.