One of every five workplace-related fatalities is a construction worker. The leading causes of death among construction workers are falls from elevations, motor vehicle crashes, electrocution, machines, and struck-by falling objects.
According to the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health, during the period from 1980 through 1995, at least 17,000 construction workers died from injuries suffered on the job. Construction lost more workers to traumatic injury death than any other major industrial sector during this time period. Construction has the third highest rate of death by injury: 15.2 deaths per 100,000 workers.
Construction health and safety is divided into general concerns, heavy construction (bridges, tunnels, pile driving and structural steel), and road construction (building and maintenance, and traffic control)
NIOSH has published a number of Alerts on hazards that are faced by workers in the construction industry, which would apply to public entities doing their own construction or contracting with construction companies to do work for their entity. Public entities would be wise to check that these companies take proper safety precautions and provide proper insurance for their workers.
The Alerts provide brief overviews of the problems, present case descriptions of fatal incidents, outline relevant safety standards and practices, and summarize NIOSH recommendations for prevention.
Cranes and Overhead Power Lines
Ladders and Overhead Power Lines
Skid Steer Loaders
Skylights and Roof Openings
Some other construction issues to consider:
Policies, procedures, training and supervision are the best strategies a public entity can use to keep employees safe and healthy in the workplace. Since there are so many aspects to construction health and safety, each entity needs to identify what is priority for its workers.
There is wealth of detailed information for specific topics on both the OSHA Technical Links to Safety and Health Topics, alphabetical by topic with links and the NIOSH Workplace Training and Health Topics, an alphabetical listing with links.
OSHA provides many eTools on various construction topics. These tools allow the user to get training and in some cases customize policies for their entities. The eTools are listed below and are listed with links on the OSHA homepage, www.osha.gov.
A Guide to Scaffold Use in the Construction Industry, OSHA 3150, 2002 (Revised)
Building Safer Highway Work Zones: Measures to Prevent Worker Injuries from Vehicles and Equipment, NIOSH Pub. No.2001-128, 2001
elaws—Lead in Construction Advisor OSHA developed this interactive expert system to help construction employers, whose workers may be exposed to lead, understand and comply with OSHA’s regulations regarding occupational exposure to lead.
Electronic Library of Construction Safety and Health eLCosh, NIOSH, The Center to Protect Workers’ Rights
Excavations, OSHA 2226, 2002 revised
Falls From Elevation, NIOSH
Fall Protection in Construction, OSHA 3146, 1998 revised
Ground Fault Protection on Construction Sites, OSHA 3007, 1998 revised
Highway Work Zones, NIOSH
Lead in Construction, OSHA 3142-09R, 2003
Lead Poisoning, National Safety Council Fact Sheet
Machine Safety, NIOSH
OSH Answers: Construction Worker—General, Canadian Centre for Occupational Safety and Health
OSH Answers: Workplace Housekeeping—Checklist for Construction Sites, Canadian Centre for Occupational Safety and Health
OSHA Asbestos Advisor 2.0
OSHA Construction eTool
OSHA Construction eTool, Cave-Ins
OSHA Construction eTool, Electrical Incidents
OSHA Construction eTool, Falls
OSHA, Construction eTool: Scaffolding
OSHA Construction eTool, Struck-By
OSHA Construction Resource Manual “Table of Contents”
OSHA Fact Sheet: Working Outdoors
OSHA Safety and Health Topics: Construction—Concrete and Masonry
OSHA Safety and Health Topics: Construction—Electrical
OSHA Safety and Health Topics: Construction—Fall Protection
OSHA Safety and Health Topics: Construction—Fire Safety
OSHA Safety and Health Topics: Construction—Hand and Power Tools
OSHA Safety and Health Topics: Construction—Motor Vehicle Safety
OSHA Safety and Health Topics: Construction—Noise and Hearing Conservation
OSHA Safety and Health Topics: Construction—Personal Protective Equipment
OSHA Safety and Health Topics: Construction—Power Transmission and Distribution
OSHA Safety and Health Topics: Construction—Scaffolding
OSHA Safety and Health Topics: Construction—Silica
OSHA Safety and Health Topics: Construction—Trenching and Excavation
OSHA Safety and Health Topics: Construction—Walking/Work Surfaces
OSHA Safety and Health Topics: Construction—Welding and Brazing
OSHA Silica Advisor eTool
Protecting Yourself in the Sun, OSHA 3166-06R, 2003
Providing Safety and Health Protection for a Diverse Construction Workforce:
Issues and Ideas
Safeguarding Equipment and Protecting Workers from Amputations, Small Business Safety and Health Management Series, OSHA 3170, 2001
Stairways and Ladders, A Guide to OSHA Rules, OSHA 3124-12R, 2003
Trench Safety Quick Card, OSHA 3197-04N-04, 2004
Underground Construction (Tunneling), OSHA 3115-06R, 2003