The 7 Most Common Construction Accidents

common construction accidents

Every year, thousands of construction workers are hurt on the job. Construction work is physically demanding and can be dangerous if safety protocols aren’t followed. Fortunately, by learning the most common types of construction accidents and taking precautions accordingly, you can avoid these hazards and return home safely at the end of every workday. It’s easy to think of construction as a high-risk profession because it involves working with heavy machinery and operating in tight spaces with lots of potential for injury. But that doesn’t mean it’s inevitable that you or your coworkers will get hurt. You just need to know what hazards to look out for and take measures to mitigate their risks as much as possible. Read on for information about the 7 most common types of construction accidents to help keep yourself safe at work.

Tool and Equipment Accidents

One of the most common types of construction accidents, being struck by tools and equipment is a source of injury for many construction workers. When tools or equipment are being used inappropriately and/or in a way that doesn’t account for the presence of nearby workers, accidents like these can happen. You can protect yourself by:

  • Knowing what kinds of tools and equipment are used in your line of work and how to use them properly.
  • Wearing the proper safety gear, like hard hats, goggles, and appropriate footwear.
  • Keeping yourself out of harm’s way by staying a safe distance away when equipment is in use and keeping your hands away from moving parts.
  • Communicating with nearby coworkers if you see a potential hazard that could lead to someone being struck.
  • Staying alert, especially when you’re tired, stressed, or focused on a particular task.


If you feel fatigue setting in, take a break. Often, fatigue is a warning sign that your body needs rest. If you ignore it and push through the work, you could be more prone to accidents. You should also be careful about taking medications that can make you drowsy, like certain headaches, allergies, and cold medications. If you’re feeling tired, try some natural remedies, like drinking a caffeinated beverage or taking a short walk before attempting to get back to work.

Musculoskeletal Disorders (MSDs)

The repetitive nature of the work and heavy lifting involved with many construction jobs can lead to musculoskeletal disorders (MSDs). Improper lifting technique, overexertion, and working with poor posture can all contribute to MSDs, which can sometimes lead to long-term disabilities. To reduce your risk of suffering from an MSD, be sure to:

  • Take frequent breaks when performing heavy lifting.
  • Use proper lifting techniques when moving equipment and materials.
  • Use equipment like cranes and forklifts whenever possible instead of manually lifting equipment.
  • Wear appropriate footwear and clothing to reduce strain on your body.
  • Stretch and strengthen your muscles regularly to help reduce the risk of developing MSDs.
  • Speak to your supervisor if you’re concerned about your ability to perform certain tasks due to the risk of MSDs. They may be able to assign you different tasks.
  • Consider pursuing certification in joint health and ergonomics to become a more employable candidate for construction jobs.

Confined Spaces

Certain construction sites feature confined spaces, which are areas that are too small to easily fit a person inside. These kinds of spaces can be dangerous, as occupants may have trouble getting out if they become injured or trapped. Common examples of confined spaces include sewage and water wells, inside walls or utility ductwork, and manholes. To keep yourself safe in a confined space:

  • Only work in a confined space if you have the proper training and equipment.
  • Stay alert and communicate with others outside the confined space if possible.
  • Leave a confined space if you start to feel dizzy or feel like something is wrong.
  • If a confined space has failed and/or become flooded, evacuate as quickly as possible.

Electrical Hazards

Working around electrical hazards can be scary, which is why many construction workers are familiar with this type of accident. Electrical hazards can arise when wires aren’t properly installed, maintained, or isolated from other factors. Electrical power outages can also create a false sense of security, leading you to make mistakes that put you in danger. To avoid electrical hazards:

  • Know the signs of a potential electrical hazard, like loose wires or a transformer that smells like melting metal.
  • Stay clear of equipment that’s plugged in and disconnected.
  • Leave electrical work to the professionals.
  • Report faulty or wiring to your supervisor.
  • Be wary of false power outages, often called “nuisance” outages. They occur when the power company needs to turn off the electricity in order to safely access a certain part of the grid.

Fires and Explosion

Construction workers sometimes experience fires and explosions, which can result from a number of different causes. Improper storage of flammable materials is a common cause of fires, but lightning and faulty equipment can also spark combustion. Explosions can occur when substances that produce combustible gases or vapors, like gasoline, come into contact with an ignition source like a spark. To avoid fires and explosions:

  • Keep flammable materials in appropriate containers and away from sparks or flames.
  • Only use approved equipment.
  • Report faulty equipment to your supervisor or the equipment manufacturer.
  • Be cautious about gasoline-powered equipment, as gasoline fumes can ignite with little warning.

Wrongful Death and Negligence

Construction workers can be injured or killed by the negligence of others. Contractors and construction supervisors may fail to follow safety protocols, putting their employees in harm’s way. In some cases, workers may fail to follow safety protocols, putting themselves in harm’s way. In either case, this type of accident can be devastating for those involved. To protect yourself from wrongful death and negligence:

  • Follow safety protocols, checklists, and procedures diligently.
  • Report unsafe conditions and behaviors to your supervisor or another authority figure.
  • When an injury occurs, get appropriate medical attention as quickly as possible.


As you can see, many construction accidents can be prevented by following a few simple precautions. Be mindful of your surroundings, avoid distractions when you’re working, stay hydrated, use the right tools for the job, and don’t hesitate to ask for help when you need it. Remember that every job has hazards, but most can be reduced or eliminated with proper training and diligence.

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