Construction Managers must prepare for the hazards of a construction site. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), a part of the United States Bureau of Labor, provides regulations and guidelines to ensure workers’ well-being.
Though many construction job sites have safety managers, the Construction Manager can — and should — integrate a safety plan from the start of the project. Risk assessments allow Construction Managers to devise steps contributing to the health and safety of workers. From a management perspective, strategizing ways to minimize work injuries is vital.
In 2009, out of 100 full-time construction workers, 4.3 workers reported nonfatal injuries and illnesses. 22% of those injuries or illnesses were falls. Given that construction ranks seventh among leading industries with employees missing work due to nonfatal injuries or illnesses, safety and health is a major concern for owners and Construction Managers.*
Some key — life-or-death — safety and health areas that Construction Managers must address:
- Falls – Nearly 40% of fatal injuries in construction were due to falls in 2014. Working at elevations, holes in the ground and other factors contribute to workers’ falls and slips. Too often workers become accustomed to the risks and don’t take adequate care to ensure against these preventable injuries.
- Electrocution – Over 8% of fatal injuries in 2014 were caused by electrocution. With heavy machinery, power tools, overhead power cables and electrical wiring common facets of any construction site, a training program for workers must address how to safely engage with these elements.
- Struck by Object – This danger accounted for over 8% of fatalities in 2014. Overhead lifting equipment, constantly moving machines, parts and people, mean workers become used to the fast pace of a construction site. Construction Managers can institute procedures to help employees work safely.
- Caught-in/between – Workers caught, compressed, or crushed by equipment, cave-ins, collapsing structures and the like accounted for 1.3% of fatalities in 2014.
OSHA concludes that eliminating the above “Fatal Four” dangers would save 518 workers’ lives in America every year. **
Besides these commonly discussed 4 dangers, Construction Managers must also consider:
- Noise – Loud noise can cause dangerous distractions. Extended repetitive noise can cause long term hearing problems. Using protective noise reduction gear is important.
- Lead – 15% of lead cases between 2002 and 2008 involved construction workers.*** Knowledge and training workers can help prevent unnecessary exposure.
- Respiratory Diseases – Asbestos and silicosis are examples of common respiratory irritants which construction workers experience. These hazardous materials can be so fine that employees don’t realize the negative effect until much later.
Fortunately, fatal injuries are on the decline. Construction Managers alongside OSHA-awareness groups are working hard to reduce preventable fatalities. The purpose of the National Fall Prevention Stand-Down, which occurred in May 2016, was to raise awareness of preventing fall hazards in construction. Employers distributed informational guidelines and employees received job training to improve site standards everywhere.
At NEIT, the MSCM program provides future Construction Managers with a course dedicated to covering the best practices, means, methods and processes to develop and implement safety planning policies. Students learn measurement tools to track the effectiveness of policies. OSHA Standards for the construction industry are highlighted so that graduates have a strong foundation in the management of safety and health for construction workers.
Construction Management is a growing industry. The best leaders in construction will know how to create safe, healthy environments for workers, with programs in place to follow OSHA standards and satisfy owner concerns.
Master the tools to be a conscientious Construction Manager with the MSCM program at NEIT.
*Economic News Release October 21, 2010: Workplace Injury and Illness Summary
U.S. Department of Labor, Bureau of Labor Statistics.