Why it is important to know the top main causes of injuries on a construction site
The construction industry comprises work involved with the construction, alteration or demolition of buildings and other structures or the preparation of building sites. There are three leading causes of injuries due to workplace hazards in the construction industry. They are manual handling injuries, falls, slips and trips, and being hit by moving objects.
1. Body Stress & injuries through Manual Handling
This type of injury is often sustained as a result of manual handling or repetitive movement and includes a range of soft tissue injuries. Manual handling is a practice that occurs on most work sites and especially so in the construction industry. Manual handling injuries continue to injure workers through poor choices of lifting items that are too heavy, lifting heavy items too often, and poor postures. Manual handling is any activity involving the use of muscular force to lift, move, push, pull, carry, hold or restrain any object. Workers in construction that undergo manual handling on a daily basis include for example bricklayers. It covers more than lifting heavy weights and affects more than just the worker’s back.
Tips to Reduce Manual Handling Injuries:
- Putting into place controls that remove or minimise the need for stressful postures, movements and effort while carrying out tasks.
- When lifting, eliminate the hazard where you can, by using mechanical aids or using a two person lift.
- If you have to manually lift, eliminate the hazard by adopting correct manual handling techniques such as maintaining an S-curve to protect your spine and keeping your arms close to your body to protect your shoulders.
- Train employees in manual handling for their specific task and techniques for effective manual handling.
- Monitor the controls that have been implemented regularly to ensure that they are being correctly utilised and that they are still effective for the task.
- Developing a list of manual handling tasks can be quite helpful and can be used as a planning tool to determine which tasks have priority for attention and present the most risk.
- Before lifting equipment, ask yourself these questions: Must it be moved? Must it be lifted? Is the load too heavy to lift safely by hand? Can it be moved mechanically? Can the size or weight of the load be reduced? Can someone help you lift the load?
2. Falls, Trips and Slips
Workers in the building and construction industry may be exposed to slip, trip or fall hazards when:
- the ground surface, floors or other building surfaces are slippery, uneven, sloping, change or are cluttered with objects such as building materials, power tools or equipment
- using a ladder -when working over inadequately guarded drops or ledges -hit by falling objects -colliding with objects or moving parts of machines
- falling onto the hot surfaces of machines -working from a height
- lighting is insufficient
- housekeeping is poor
Safe Work Australia reports that in 2013-14, 30% of falls were from working off a ladder. Serious injury can occur from falls of less than 2 metres so the potential risk of a fall of any distance, even a trip or slip, should be considered and action taken to reduce the likelihood of injury.
What Should be Done to Prevent Slips, Trips and Falls?
There are several ways that you can minimise the risk of a slip, trip or fall:
- Only keep frequently used tools in your work area.
- Floors around benches and machinery must be kept clear.
- Always keep your work area tidy by storing materials and equipment neatly,
- Keep extension leads off the ground by using cable stands, and;
- Regularly dispose of waste material and rubbish in appropriate bins.
3. Hit By Moving Objects
Moving and falling objects are a major safety hazard, so paying attention to them is crucial to improving workplace safety. Being hit by a moving object or a falling object caused work-related fatalities.
To avoid the third cause of injury, being hit by moving objects, be aware that hitting against moving objects can happen for a variety of reasons, including:
- Cluttered workplaces that prevent easy and safe movement
- Workers colliding with mobile machinery, boxes and pallets
- Working close to objects
- Having no warning signs at intersections
- Doors opening onto walkways
- Poor lighting
- No warning lights or beepers on moving vehicles
To prevent colliding with moving objects, the following safety features can be adopted:
- Traffic management tools such as signage, marking, safety cone, flag, barricade or bunting
- Reversing cameras, sensor devices or alarms
- Speed control bumps
- Elevated walkway or crossing gates
- Safety cages or guarding for tyre rim assembly/fitting
- Stanchions or chokes to secure log stacking
Conclusion- stay safe
These are just three main causes of injuries in construction site, but in real life, there are many more to watch out for. So, how do you ensure workplace safety for all on-site? The answer lies in employee training and safety procedures. Training, with a specific focus on the safety training themes of interaction with powered mobile plant, working at height, working around machinery and moving parts, and working with electricity should be the industry’s key focus. These safety themes should be followed up with instructions on manual handling and preventing workers from being hit by moving objects. In doing so, the construction industry and construction companies will start to address workplace hazards in the construction industry that often have severe consequences. Many deaths, injuries and accidents could be prevented with proper workplace safety protocol. Tools such as safety checklists can help make a significant difference. Additionally, make sure to train your employees on the correct use of personal protective equipment. While it’s impossible to eliminate all safety hazards at a construction site, abiding by the OHS requirements will go a long way. Safety is an issue that any construction business should take seriously and is legally required in Australia.