What are the most common hazards on construction sites?

Legal regulations, such as New York construction and labor laws, impose a number of obligations on the participants of the investment process. Multiple parties are usually responsible for ensuring safe and hygienic working conditions for all workers involved. Occupational health and safety is planned at the stage of execution of the construction project, where hazards related to the work performed are anticipated. Failure to ensure safety can lead to dangerous situations in the workplace, likely to cause serious bodily injuries, material damage, and possible death.

There are many circumstances which, through certain actions, may lead to injury, immediate deterioration of health, or even death. The most common sources of these factors are machines, means of transport, rotating machine elements, power tools (grinding discs, drill bits, etc.), and sharp protruding elements (i.e. reinforcing bars). In addition, there is also work with electric currents. Most often, an electric shock occurs when using damaged machines (powered by electricity), damaged electric cables, or performing unauthorized repairs (without the required qualifications).

Due to the number of hazardous factors present in open construction environments, these are some of the most common accidents when safety is not 100% ensured:

  • work at heights (platforms, scaffolding, roofs, ladders),
  • transportation work and related movement around the construction site,
  • mechanized horizontal and vertical transport (movement of manufactured goods by machines),
  • excavations,
  • operation of pressure equipment used for underground works,
  • welding,
  • assembly and installation work, electrical installation,
  • operation of power tools,
  • plastering (servicing a concrete mixer, plastering aggregate),
  • material processing, cutting, grinding associated with an angle grinder, circular saw,
  • reinforcement work related to the processing of reinforcement (cutting, bending, straightening),
  • wet, slippery, icy surfaces (transport roads, platforms, scaffolding, ladders),
  • work after dark or rainfall, fog, which is associated with limited visibility, may cause more errors.

There are also a number of chemical factors that may lead to the deterioration of health as a result of prolonged exposure to the human body. These factors include high-intensity noises and mechanical vibrations that can lead to hearing loss or disturbance of balance. Working outdoors in unfavorable weather conditions (low temperatures, strong winds) may also lead to joint diseases. An underexposed workplace may cause visual impairment, headaches and even lead to accidents at work.

Chemicals used in the construction process, such as solvents, paints, and asbestos can cause various diseases such as cancer for workers in the long run. Below are a few hazards that workers face risk of coming in contact with:

  • inhalation of airborne asbestos fibers causes disease. According to the International Labor Organization, asbestos can cause diseases such as pneumoconiosis, pleural changes,
  • lung cancer, pleural mesothelioma,
  • allergenic effect on the skin (also in the preparation phase), irritating to the mucous membranes of the eyes and respiratory tract,
  • solvents (alcohols, glycols, ketones, ethers, gasoline, aliphatic hydrocarbon derivatives, carbon disulfide, benzene and its derivatives, turpentine) can be absorbed through the
  • skin and digestive systems
  • cement can be irritating to the eyes, skin, and respiratory tract
  • insulating materials like polystyrene, cotton wool, bituminous masses are all able to irritate the skin

Working in the construction industry carries many risks and hazards. The development of science and technology is always eliminating old-school causes, but with it, can sometimes come new ones. Taking shortcuts or skipping procedures will always result in an accident or illness, sooner than later.

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