In 2018, one in five worker deaths were in the field of construction.
If the four most common causes of construction deaths were eliminated, known as the “Fatal Four,” almost 600 workers’ lives would be saved in America each year.
Being a building contractor is an essential job in our society, but one that comes with incredible dangers and risks.
Let’s take a look at the ten most common building contractor accidents that you should know about.
1. Falling From Heights or Scaffolding
Building contractors are constantly required to be working high up off the ground. This means that falling from heights or scaffolding is a common contractor injury and the most common cause of death in construction. Out of 1,008 deaths in construction in 2018, 338 of those were due to falling.
Having the right fall protection equipment is essential while on the job site. If you’re using traditional ladders and scaffolding, it can be easy to cut corners to save time. Make sure that you are your team is following proper safety procedures every time you’re off the ground.
2. Slips and Falls
Another common source of injury among home building contractors come from slips, trips, and falls. They happen so frequently that they are the leading cause of construction industry workers’ compensation claims.
Most slip and fall injuries stem from dangerous job site conditions. If the property owner, general contractor, a subcontractor or a third-party, it’s possible that the injured worker has the right to sue for damages.
Even if one does recover damages successfully in a third-party lawsuit, that doesn’t affect the right of the worker to workers’ compensation benefits.
Common injuries caused by slips and falls include soft-tissue strains, broken bones, and contusions. More serious injuries such as spinal cord injuries and traumatic brain injury (TBI) can also result from slips and falls.
There are a number of worksite conditions that can cause slips and falls. If walking surfaces are uneven, environmental conditions are unfavorable, physical obstructions in the walking paths, or issues with site-coordination, slip and fall injuries are much more likely. It is also possible for there to be issues with the workers themselves, such as wearing improper footwear, having health issues that affect their balance, or being under the influence of chronic pain medication.
3. Falling Objects
There is a long list of injuries that can result from falling object accidents. Depending on the size and weight of the object, how high it fell from, whether its fall was slowed by hitting other objects, and whether or not the victim was wearing protective gear, the extent of injuries can vary widely.
Injuries from falling objects include:
- Broken bones
- Neck and back injuries
- Spine injuries and paralysis
- Concussions and traumatic brain injuries
- Permanent Disabilities
Some of the possible reasons a worker might be struck by a falling object are:
- Failure to properly secure or hold on to a machine component or tool
- Improper stacking of supplies or materials
- Lack of proper training
- Incorrect use of a piece of equipment or a tool
- Too heavy of a load
- Inadequately secure load on a hoist, boom, or crane
- Neglecting to use safety devices capable of stopping or catching falling debris and objects
- Failure to follow proper safety standards
- Faulty parts or materials leading to structural collapse or a breakdown
- Malfunctioning equipment
- Lack of warning signs posted
As you can see, there are a lot of reasons that objects could fall and cause injury on a construction site. Your best defense against these types of injuries is to wear protective safety gear, have received the proper training, and be careful to stay out of areas with posted signs that warn about the possibility of falling objects.
It’s important to stack objects or materials in a way that prevents falling, collapsing, or sliding. Take care not to stack objects or materials too high. Never walk or stand in the fall zone of heavy equipment nor under scaffolds or ladders.
A large portion of the electrical injuries in the US every year are made up by construction workers. In one analysis, the researchers found that construction workers are 4 times more likely than workers in all other industries combined to be electrocuted.
Direct or indirect contact with live electrical equipment and wiring accounted for more than half of the electrocutions of electrical construction workers. Many of the building contractors that experienced fatal injuries from electrocution were not trained electrical specialists.
If you’re a general building contractor and not a trained electrical specialist, it’s best to stay away from possible sources of electrocution. It’s important to be aware of the local of power lines and to maintain a safe distance from them to avoid accidental contact. If it’s necessary to operate equipment near power lines, contact the utility company to have them de-energize and ground the electrical lines.
5. Caught In or Between Equipment, Objects, or Structures
These injuries occur when a worker gets caught, squeezed, pinched, crushed, or compressed between two or more objects or between two different parts of an object. Cave-ins of unprotected excavations and trenches, equipment on your site with moving parts that aren’t safeguarded, and mobile machinery that could tip over can all be the cause of serious injury or even death.
Caught in or between accidents are preventable, so it’s essential to take the proper precautions when on the job site.
6. Accidents Related to Equipment
In the world of house building contractors, you’re constantly dealing with heavy equipment like bulldozers, cranes, backhoes, trucks, and forklifts. While these powerful machines are necessary to get the job done, it’s important that proper safety procedures are followed to help avoid accidents and serious injuries.
7. Fires and Explosions
Another common building contractor accident is fire and explosions. These types of accidents can lead to workers being permanently disabled or even to their death.
Some of the leading causes of worksite fire and explosions are:
- Combustible and flammable liquids
- Compressed gas cylinders
- Temporary heating devices
- Chemical drums or tanks
- Liquefied petroleum gas
- Blasting agents and explosives
- Heavy equipment and vehicles
- Electrical malfunctions and shorts
The types of incidents responsible for the most fire and explosion deaths on construction sites are:
- Chemical explosions
- Arc flashes and blasts
- Pressurized container explosions
It is a requirement of OSHA that employers implement workplace fire prevention and protection programs.
8. Building or Trench Collapses
Building or trench collapses are another common building contractor accident.
There are a number of dangers that trenches pose in particular. These include cave-ins, falls, worker vulnerability to falling loads from above, and dangerous gases and fumes. The greatest danger presented by trenches is a cave-in on workers who are inside the trench.
The best way to prevent these types of injuries is to:
- Never enter an unprotected excavation or trench without an adequate protective system in place
- Ensure that the excavation or trench is protected by either shoring, sloping, trench shield systems, or benching
Having adequate protection systems in place is essential when workers are working in trenches. Trenches should be inspected before each shift and after any type of weather event.
Overexertion is something that can affect contractors of all stripes, whether it be steel building contractors, home building contractors, or general building contractors.
Sprains, strains, and related soft tissue injuries are common types of overexertion injuries.
10. Getting Hit By a Vehicle
Construction sites are places of condensed activity. There are many people working, much heavy equipment operating, and tons of trucks driving around.
Having strict standards for the rules pertaining to driving around the construction site can help prevent vehicle accidents on your site. Properly training all workers in regards to safety measures and speed limits can help avoid these preventable types of accidents.
Since workplace injuries are so common on construction sites, it makes sense to have liability insurance with the right coverage. Check out this advice for contractors about choosing the best liability insurance.
Many Building Contractor Accidents Are Preventable
While there is always the possibility of injury on a building contractor site, your best bet is to follow all the proper safety procedures and precautions. When you’re operating heavy machinery, working at great heights, or working in deep trenches, it’s not worth the risk to cut corners.
Understand what’s at risk can help your team understand why safety precautions matter. Taking the time to properly train your staff is one of the best things you can do to help prevent incidents that cause injury or even death.
Did you find this article about building contractor accidents helpful? If so, be sure to check out the rest of our blog for more informative and interesting content!