Working a construction job usually involves a lot of physical labor and demands alertness and quick reaction times. Though construction workers are often strong and physically fit, the job nevertheless comes with some risk of injury. With data gathered from Occupational Safety and Health Administration statistics and other reputable studies, here’s a list of the seven most common construction injuries workers may encounter.
Exposure to Hazardous Materials
Though OSHA standards dictate that hazardous chemicals have clear warning labels and safety data sheets nearby, sometimes workers may accidentally come in contact with dangerous materials. The resulting injuries vary in severity, like skin or eye irritation from a strong solvent to highly dangerous lung exposure to asbestos fibers.
Often various subcontractors and laborers work in tandem with electricians on a project. Electrical shocks can vary in intensity from a graze with a bare wire to a more serious flash-arc burn from a heavy-duty electrical installation or piece of equipment.
Being Hit by Moving Equipment
Construction work often involves the use of heavy equipment like backhoes or dump trucks that can have limited visibility for the operator. A worker may be hit by an articulating arm, digging bucket, heavy-duty tire, swinging door, or the machine itself. Depending on the size of the machine and the force of the hit, injuries can include severe bruising, broken bones, head trauma, or internal injury.
Falling From a Height
Workers who demolish or install roofing, who work on buildings of multiple stories, or who use tall ladders are at risk of falling from a height. Safety measures like harnesses, tethers, nonslip pads, or ladder support by other workers can lower that risk, but aren’t always available or employed properly. Falls from a height can be fatal or lead to catastrophic spinal cord injury, ligament or muscle tears, bone fractures, and often severe bruising. Some fall injuries may be permanent.
Construction workers rely on their trucks and vans to carry tools and equipment to various job sites. The more time a driver spends on the road, the higher the risk of a traffic accident. A Centers for Disease Control and Prevention analysis of Bureau of Labor Statistics data shows that motor vehicle accidents are the leading cause of work-related deaths in the United States. While death is the worst-case scenario, vehicle accidents can also cause traumatic injuries that require surgery or hospital stays, fractures, burns, or more minor injuries that can interrupt daily life.
Some machinery used on construction sites requires special training, such as welding or plumbing equipment. Accidents with torches, gas or electric heaters, or certain chemicals can cause minor to severe burns.
Construction workers who labor in the hot sun, particularly in more humid areas, are at risk for heat-related illnesses. The body usually puts out warning signs like heat rash, cramps from salt imbalance, and heat exhaustion that presents as fatigue, headache, or nausea. The most serious is heat stroke, where the body can no longer regulate its temperature. This can be fatal if not treated quickly.
Construction workers face a variety of risks on the job. Treatment for on-the-job injuries can vary based on the seriousness of the injury, but every incident deserves attention. We’re here to help. Feel free to contact us about your workplace injury.