Employers must keep construction sites safe for workers

| Mar 24, 2020 | Workers' Compensation

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, there were just over 1,000 construction fatalities in 2018. This number has been slowly inching up since 2010. Although that is not an overwhelmingly large number compared to the total United States workforce, even one preventable death is too many. 

The law requires employers and construction managers in Oklahoma City to provide all means to keep workers safe on their job sites. The Occupational Health and Safety Administration has detailed standards on its website for virtually every potential job hazard. Read on for a few construction industry guidelines: 

Confined spaces 

OSHA defines a confined space as: 

  • Large enough and so configured that an employee can bodily enter it 
  • Having limited or restricted means for entry and exit 
  • Not designed for continuous employee occupancy 

Workers who enter these areas are at a higher risk for atmospheric and physical hazards like toxic vapors and explosions. It is also easy for them to become trapped in an emergency. 

If there is a designated confined space on a worksite, the employer must prove or provide adequate ventilation and eliminate all physical dangers. They must also take measures to keep it blocked off when it is empty. 

Fall prevention 

Falls are the most common cause of severe injuries and fatalities in construction. Furthermore, with the proper adherence to safety standards, OSHA believes that every one of these deaths is preventable. 

Employers must take the time to identify any fall risks present on the site. They must protect edges and holes with guard rails and floor covers. If employees need to wear Personal Fall Arrest Systems, the employer must provide them and train the workers on how to use them properly. 

Lockout/tagout 

When an employee services heavy machinery, moving parts or stored energy could kill them if another worker accidentally starts the equipment. Employers must implement a lockout/tagout procedure, which involves an authorized control person to oversee the shutdown and startup of the machinery. The authorized person disconnects the power sources and releases all the stored energy in the equipment. Then, he or she will lock and tag the controls and any other hazard so no one can access the power. 

Construction employees work in more danger than almost any other occupation. Employers are responsible for identifying, reducing and eliminating job site hazards. 

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