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What are the Most Common Hazards in the Workplace?

5 Common Hazards in the Workplace

We all know that the construction industry is one of the most dangerous professions there is. Thousands of people every year are injured or even killed in accidents on construction sites. As a contractor there’s nothing you can do to make a job site completely safe and accident free—danger is simply part of the job. However, by being aware of the most common health and safety risks on the job you can mitigate a great deal of your liability and risk in both financial and human costs. Here are five of the most common hazards in the workplace that contractors should try to avoid.

Heights

Many construction jobs involve working in high places. This is true of construction and demolitions. To mitigate these risks make sure that all of your platforms are secure and stable, your workers are properly harnessed and tethered, and any tripping risks are removed from the work area. Train your workers on safety awareness policies and procedures.

Slips and Falls

Next to heights, slipping and falling is the most common source of injuries on a construction site. Make sure that your workers are aware of the different risks for tripping, slipping and falling, and that they wear proper footwear and protective gear. Keep the site clear of debris, tools and loose wires in addition to working to avoid spills at all times.

Falling Objects

Objects falling from heights form a major hazard for workers passing beneath. Whether from debris from construction, dropped or accidentally kicked tools, or any other object, many workers suffer injury or death every year from falling objects. Keep all tools and debris secured and take great care while lowering trash and waste from heights. Make sure workers wear safety gear such as hardhats and safety boots at all times.

Moving Equipment

Trucks, cars, construction vehicles and other heavy mobile equipment form a major hazard on construction sites. Make sure that backup alarms are present and working on all equipment. Create hazard zones where pedestrian activity is not permitted, and train those operating heavy equipment on awareness of their surroundings and safety procedures for moving.

common hazards in the workplace

Tool and Heavy Equipment Injury

Many workers every year suffer serious incidents involving tools and heavy equipment. Misusing this equipment is a recipe for disaster. Preventative maintenance is the first step in heavy equipment safety. Make sure that no one who isn’t trained and rated on heavy equipment is anywhere near it, whether it’s being used or not. Make sure that all hand and power tools are sharpened and in good repair. Ensure that power tools are unplugged or removed from their power source and properly stored when not in use. Finally, always make sure that all of your workers are trained and educated in safety standards and policies and that proper personal protective equipment (PPE) is worn on the job site at all times.

Ensuring that your employees are well-trained and follow all safety procedures is the best way to make sure you avoid accidents and injury on the job. Of course, accidents will still happen and when they do, make sure you have the right insurance coverage for the job.


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Changes in the Equipment Industry Over the Years

An Overview of Changes in the Equipment Industry

The construction industry is one fraught with peril and risk, but improved OSHA safety standards and constantly improving equipment and machinery work hard every day in conjunction with better insurance coverage to protect contractors and their workers. Let’s look at the history of changes in the equipment industry and how these changes have affected the business of construction and contracting.

1960s

The 1960s was a huge era in the construction industry. The Interstate Highway System was being built, bolstered by the Federal Aid Highway Act of 1956 and would go on for a full 35 years. High-power, huge machinery was introduced in this era for the first time. New machinery in the ‘60s included high-powered scrapers to move dirt and rock, monster machines like surface mining draglines, huge steam shovels and 360-ton trucks for hauling material. In fact, of all the equipment introduced in this era, only hauling trucks have increased in size.

1970s

The oil crisis of the ‘70s increased demand for coal across the nation, and earth-moving equipment became all the rage. There was a waiting list of up to four years to get hold of large machinery during this era.

1980s

The country was hit by a major recession in the 1980s, which had a stark transformative effect on the equipment industry. In just a few years, many companies went under and others consolidated. In the space of ten years, a lot of companies disappeared from the landscape. The four major manufacturers of earthmoving equipment were Euclid, Harvester, Allis Chalmers and Caterpillars. Today, only Caterpillar remains under its original name.

1990s

In the 1990s, environmentalism became a major social and political movement, and its effects continue to be felt today. A wave of new laws were issued to protect the environment, including those regulating diesel emissions, which brought on many drastic changes in the equipment industry. During this era, new engine technology was developed that still delivered the needed power, but functioned at a much cleaner and more efficient level.

2000s

We are now into the second decade of the 21st Century and the industry continues to evolve and change. The recession of 2008 hit the construction industry hard, and a new model of equipment distribution arose. The focus now is no longer on companies owning heavy machinery, but leasing it as needed. In the 1980s, rental comprised less than 20 percent of the market. Now, over 40 percent of contractors lease, rather than own, their heavy machinery.

changes in the equipment industry

This presents challenges for equipment manufacturers who have to make available a variety of specifications to meet all the diverse needs of the industry at a rental level. This has resulted in fewer optional and luxury features and a greater variety of base-level operations.

Changes in the equipment industry have gone hand-in-hand with changes in the construction industry and the social and financial landscape, and insurance has changed to adapt to these new conditions. If you are looking to upgrade your insurance to the best coverage available, read up on specialized equipment coverage and give us a call for a review of your policy today.


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Improving Dangerous Construction Site Safety Tips

Dangerous Construction Site Safety 101

Construction sites are some of the most dangerous places there are. In 2012 there were more than 760 fatal incidents surrounding the industry, with falls, electrocution, falling debris and “caught-in” accidents being the most common causes. Here are some ways you can improve dangerous construction site safety.

OSHA Training

You should ensure that all of your staff, supervisors and subcontractors are well-educated and trained in all OSHA safety regulations and why these are in place. The organization offers Construction Industry Outreach Training, which encompasses everything workers need to know to recognize, avoid and prevent hazards. The program includes 30 hours of training and is excellent for workers, subcontractors and supervisors.

Personal Protective Equipment

Using the correct personal protective equipment (PPE) is a vital aspect of construction safety. Hardhats, safety goggles, face protection, slip- and puncture-resistant work boots, the right kinds of gloves to protect hands while allowing necessary dexterity and the like should all be applied without exception and wherever needed.

dangerous construction site safety

Scaffolding and Heights

Scaffolding accidents are some of the most common accidents in the industry. They are some of the most frequent citations issued by OSHA for dangerous construction site safety violations. Ensure that scaffolds are always on solid footing, securely planed together and anchored, in good working condition, and never overloaded or moved within 10 feet of power lines.

Whenever possible, any worker on scaffolding or at height should be tethered and anchored so that if the unthinkable happens, they do not fall a great distance and suffer injury or death. Guard rails should always be applied as additional safety, and entrances and egress should have handrails and be permanently available.

Electrical Issues

Electrocution is a major risk for workers. Work should never be performed on or near live wires or circuits. Power should always be completely cut before work begins. Effective tag and lockout systems must always be in place, and all cords should be properly grounded. Know where all power lines are and keep any ladders, scaffolding and equipment away. Finally, never use damaged, worn or frayed electrical cables.

Communication

Communication is your first line of defense against accidents. This does not just apply to alerts issued when incidents occur. It also means using the proper signage and warnings wherever needed. It means offering and ensuring that all of your workers have the proper training and education.

dangerous construction site safety

Having a solid plan of action when dealing with heavy equipment is vital. Make sure that no one not rated to use the equipment is anywhere in the vicinity. For moving equipment or vehicles, establish zones where no one is permitted to walk past, and specific procedures for equipment movement.

Of course, accidents can happen no matter how strong your dangerous construction site safety may be. Carrying proper liability insurance is vital to make sure that you and your workers are covered in case the unthinkable happens.



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Best Safety Practices for Offloading Construction Materials

Safety should be first on the minds of every contracting business. Standards are becoming more stringent and effective every day. Following these OSHA guidelines can not only protect your financial interests and reduce lawsuits, but can protect your workers from serious injury that can result in months or years of rehabilitation. Here’s a look at the best safety practices for offloading construction materials to protect your workers and business from accidents and liability.

Applying Best Safety Practices

The construction and contracting industries often overlook or neglect safety issues when it comes to loading and unloading construction materials. Unlike warehouses, where such processes are a large portion of day-to-day business, on the construction site they are a prelude or afterthought of the daily job and focus is on the use of materials rather than loading and unloading.

It’s important to shift perspective on this. Lumber bundles, windows, roof trusses and other materials weigh hundreds of pounds, and a lot of workplace injuries result from lack of safety procedures in handling them. The more your business pays attention to moving heavy materials, the better protected you and your workers will be.

best safety practices

Protecting Workers

Some of the best safety practices you can implement to protect your workers include the use of loading docks, specialized equipment such as forklifts and loaders and the proper training in their use, and thorough safety training and education for workers. Constant supervision and updates as well as following OSHA safety measures for such practices will save thousands in legal claims and damages.


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Understanding Risk

Workers need to be thoroughly educated and trained in the risks involved with heavy lifting and awkward materials. The best defense against accidents and injury is knowledge. Common workers comp claims in this area include strains, sprains, bruising and fractures from improper lifting, dropped or spilled materials and supplies that are not properly restrained.

Equipment Use

Knowing and respecting the limits of equipment use is vital to safety standards. Employees that are using heavy equipment such as forklifts need to be thoroughly and properly trained and certified. No worker who is not certified should be in the area of the equipment, and proper warning and signage should be posted. Equipment limits should be thoroughly observed according to manufacturer’s guidelines.

Make sure that building materials are always centered on the forklift and kept as far back as possible. The lowest position on the platform should be used while the equipment is moving and loads should be piled and cross-tiered as often as possible.

Never adopt a casual attitude towards moving building materials. The application of best safety practices is vital to mitigating safety risks and protecting both you and your workers from accidents, lawsuits and liability. In addition, make sure that you are carrying the proper contractors insurance policy for when incidents do occur.

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Stay Protected with Contractor Liability Insurance

Contractor Liability Insurance

Heavy equipment forms one of the largest and most common hazards on any construction site. The potential for accidents and disaster carries heavy contractor liability, especially if staff are not properly trained and qualified in their use. Equipment that moves in such a way as to create potential danger should be locked and tagged to prevent such accidents as amputations, electrocutions, collisions and other potentially fatal events.

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