Construction work comes with some inherent risk. As the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) points out, "The fatal injury rate for the construction industry is higher than the national average in this category for all industries." However, you can work to keep your company below that average by taking precautions. Workplace safety is essential not only for keeping your employees healthy and injury-free, but also to bolster job satisfaction and trust in the managers and the company, and to protect yourself against the expense of lawsuits and replacing injured workers.
Common Workplace Hazards
These are some common construction workplace hazards that your safety and risk management plan should consider and address:
- Falls, struck-by, caught-in-between, and electrocution: these are the top four construction risks as outlined by OSHA.
- Scheduling mistakes that result in overworked employees who haven't gotten enough sleep when they arrive on the job site.
- Broken, worn-out, or out-of-date equipment.
- Improper or ill-fitting protective gear.
- Overuse injuries (caused by repetitive motions day after day, year after year).
- Poorly trained or unskilled workers.
- Failure to comply with safety guidelines.
Preventing Injuries at the Workplace
You can help prevent some of these injuries with the following tactics:
- Arrange for thorough training and skills assessments for all employees.
- Give each new employee a complete employee handbook. Update this handbook as necessary.
- Have periodic reminders about safety guidelines. Sometimes, a failure to comply isn't because the employee is defiant, but because he or she forgot the rules.
- Protect against the top four construction zone risks by ensuring equipment is installed properly; checking equipment periodically for wear and tear and replacing worn out items immediately; using guardrails, harnesses, and safety nets; keeping walkways clear; using tread and handrails on stairs; choosing the right ladder length for each job; not overloading equipment; providing well-fitted protective gear for all employees; knowing where the power lines are and keeping ladders and scaffolding away from them; and more.
- Educate employees about overuse injuries and offer care plans that might help prevent the injury, like chiropractic care, acupuncture, gym or yoga memberships, and physical therapy. Even learning proper body mechanics can help an employee avoid some joint, back, and muscular pain. Consider the possibility of allowing certain employees to rotate positions to help prevent this type of injury.
- Schedule employees to ensure adequate rest between each shift.
Your Workplace Safety Plan
One of your main objectives should be to minimize safety hazards for the benefit of your workers and the company as a whole, and that starts with a solid Workplace Safety Plan. Each plan is unique to the company it serves and should be carefully written to address as many potential safety concerns as possible.
A professional employer organization like Harbor America can help your small- or medium-sized business create an appropriate Workplace Safety Plan. It starts with a complete understanding of OSHA standards. From your training manuals to your employee manuals to compliance posters, we can help you ensure your workers are up-to-speed about all safety guidelines and regulations, and we offer a wide range of accident prevention strategies.
Of course, accidents do happen despite precautions. In that case, your thorough workers' compensation insurance will be able to help your injured employee through his or her recovery. Hiring a PEO to handle the claims also saves you time and ensures the procedure is done correctly to prevent any legal complications.
Minimizing Your Risk
Workplace injuries don't have to be common or inevitable. Do what you can to limit the risk so your employees can enjoy a healthy, happy work environment that leads to greater job satisfaction and greater productivity. Feel free to contact us if you have any questions about your Workplace Safety Plan, or how Harbor America can help you with your safety and compliance strategy.