More than 20 percent of private sector employee deaths occur within the construction industry despite the fact that construction workers make up only 6 percent of the population. Construction workers in Pennsylvania should know that most accidents in their industry are preventable. The following is a summary of the top five hazards they face.
Falls are the worst hazard, accounting for over a third of construction fatalities, and are usually caused by work surfaces that lack traction, are unstable or are full of holes. A lack of fall prevention equipment like guardrails and fall arrest systems are also to blame. Some employers fail to provide the right personal protective equipment like hard hats and non-skid work boots.
Struck-by objects are the second hazard. Workers can be struck by cranes or by vehicles like forklifts. These could be prevented with a clear vehicle route. Employees should also know not to position themselves between moving and fixed objects.
The third hazard is electricity. Workers should have portable tools that are grounded or double insulated and use ground-fault circuit interrupters when possible.
Without trench wall support and other safety measures, trenches could collapse, leading to caught-in-between incidents, which is the fourth safety risk. Hazardous materials round out the list. Employers should have material safety data sheets for these and present employees with the right respiratory protection.
Even employers who comply with federal safety guidelines and properly train their employees will see accidents on a construction site. Workplace injuries are sometimes the result of employee negligence. In such cases, employees may still be compensated for their medical expenses and for a portion of their lost wages if they file for workers' compensation benefits. The benefits could be denied, so victims might want to consult with an attorney beforehand. The attorney may help mount an appeal as a last resort.