You’ve worked in construction for a decade. So far, you’ve escaped serious injury. Sure, you deal with the minor cuts and bruises that go along with working with your hands, but you haven’t been to the hospital.
Even so, you’ve seen the statistics. They paint a dire picture. You’ve heard about the “fatal four,” which take the most lives. You know that even workers who survive these types of accidents often have life-long injuries.
Plus, you’re not going to retire for 30 more years. As you look at how common injuries are, you start to feel like it’s just a matter of time. It’s an inherent risk that you took on when you chose this profession.
The “fatal four” get a lot of press in the construction industry, and with plenty of reason: One study showed that these four accidents accounted for 57 percent of on-the-job deaths. But do you know exactly what risks you’re facing? The fatal four are:
1. Caught-Between Accidents
These only made up 2 percent of the deaths in the study, but that’s still an incredible amount when there are hundreds of deaths each year — 775 in 2012, for instance. These accidents happen when workers get caught in machines, caught between materials or equipment or hit by motorized vehicles.
These made up 9 percent of the deaths. They’re tragic because they’re often so easily avoidable. Employees who are working on electrical systems may get killed simply due to miscommunication with other employees, for example, thinking that someone else cut the power to specific lines when no one did.
These accounted for 10 percent of the deaths in the study. They can happen in a few different ways, such as when a crane swings a heavy load through a construction site. Many simply happen when objects get dropped from above, though. This is why it’s never wise for employees to work under a load that is being raised, even if they think it’s secure, and why employees working at any elevation need to tie down tools and materials that could fall.
Falls are the biggest danger to construction workers. They account for a staggering 36 percent of workplace deaths. They lead to thousands of injuries. They’re the reason employers are often instructed to give out fall protection gear, even at relatively low heights. Despite increased education about falls and better protective equipment, they continue to pose an enormous risk.
Again, not all accidents are deadly, but looking at fatality statistics does help you see where the risks lie and what you should watch out for as you continue your career. You also need to know what steps to take if you’re ever injured on the job.