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Spring Construction Safety

Spring has sprung, and so has activity on construction sites across the region. According to NYC Open Dataa hub of analytics and data to keep New Yorkers informed, there are approximately 2,834 active worksites across the five boroughs, with additional projects getting the green light every day.

Spring is one of the busiest seasons for construction and the official kick-off for all outdoor projects. Construction employees will be working tirelessly throughout the next few months to meet deadlines and finish projects before the cold weather returns.

Unfortunately, busy worksites can quickly become dangerous when finishing the work becomes more important than safety. Employers and employees must work together to get the job done without risking accidents. Knowing the most common hazards workers face in the spring and how to work safely through them can help prevent thousands of unnecessary injuries this year.

Spring Hazards To Avoid

Spring weather may be ideal for construction projects to begin, but the season comes with hazards. According to United Rentals, these are the springtime work hazards you should be watching for before you break ground:

  • Rain:Spring showers can make worksites wet and slippery, increasing the risk for slip and fall accidents on the job.
  • Mud:Increased precipitation can result in muddy working conditions, creating worksites that are uneven for walking and operating machinery.
  • Wind:Spring storms are known for unpredictable, gusty winds that can knock workers off balance or cause unsecured items to go airborne.
  • Lightning:Lightning on a worksite with various metal components can be terrifying, and lead to horrific injuries when workers do not take cover.

All of these weather conditions can wreak havoc on an active construction site, particularly when safety steps are neglected. When working conditions are slippery and sloppy, workers can be put in situations that may lead to accidents, such as:

  • Falls:Rain and mud cause slippery conditions that increase the frequency of potential falls.
  • Machine Rollovers: Excavators and other large pieces of equipment may be at risk of rolling over if they are operating on unstable ground.
  • Scaffolding Slips: Scaffolding projects are dangerous in favorable weather conditions, not to mention when it is windy and raining.
  • Trench Accidents:Spring rain can cause trench collapses and mudslides that can severely harm workers.

Ten Most Common Construction Injuries

When employers are not prepared to keep their workers safe from springhazards,  construction injuries skyrocket. According to the National Safety Council Injury Facts, the construction industry saw a total of 310,000 medically consulted injuries in 2017 that occurred from preventable work accidents. These injuries ranged from minor to traumatic, with 924 of the construction-related injuries leading to fatalities.

Not all construction injuries result in fatalities, but that doesn’t make them any less severe or life-changing. While some injuries may lead to a day or two of lost wages, others can cause a worker to lose his/her job or go through years of painful recovery after sustaining permanent disabilities.

According to Ortho Now and Medline Plus, these are the top ten construction injuries doctors treat and some of the conditions that could result from them:

  • Head Injury– brain damage, hematoma, hemorrhage, concussion, skull fracture, traumatic brain injury.
  • Back Injury– trauma to the spine, muscle strains and sprains, nerve injuries, herniated discs.
  • Knee Injury– ACL injury, fractures, broken bones, meniscal tears.
  • Eye Injury– scratches, cuts, bruises, bleeding, vision loss.
  • Burns– first, second, or third-degree burns from hazardous chemicals or extreme heat.
  • Crushing Injuries-fractures, lacerations, nerve injuries, bleeding, amputations.
  • Heatstroke– organ damage, death.
  • Hearing Damage– caused by exposure to loud noises or trauma injury
  • Respiratory Disease-asbestos-related diseases, black lung, chronic pneumonia.
  • Muscle Strain-caused by heavy and consistent lifting

A number of factors can cause construction accidents, but almost half of fatal injuries can be traced back to the ‘Fatal Four’: falls, struck by an object, electrocutions, caught in/between. These hazards are prevalent across all construction sites and consistently make the top OSHA violations every year.

Prepare for Spring Safety

Putting a worksite safety plan in place related to springtime hazards is the first step to reducing preventable injuries. To help get you started, United Rentals recommends including these topics in company safety plans and weekly meetings:

  • Personal Protective Equipment:Make sure your workers are using PPE that is appropriate for the season. Waterproof and slip-resistant boots, slip-proof gloves, rain gear, and anti-fog glasses are recommended.
  • Mud Safety: Workers can help reduce the spread of slippery mud when provided ways to wipe their boots before entering equipment or buildings.
  • Machine Safety Checks:If you are operating a piece of machinery that can be impacted by wet and muddy conditions, check the site for stability and visibility before operating.
  • Fall Protection:Do not neglect to wear a harness or inspect it before use. Teach workers how to perform safety checks on each other to ensure the equipment will adequately work in the case of an accident.
  • Safe Scaffolding: Ensure that the scaffolding on your worksite is up to NYC code. Guard rails and personal fall arrest systems should be used when higher than 10-feet. In the case of inclement weather, postpone scaffold work for another day.
  • Storm Watch:Identify someone on the worksite to watch for storms and other dangerous weather conditions that could affect the safety of the workers on the job. If storms are predicted, make sure to have an emergency action plan as to where everyone will go in the case of lightning.
  • Trench Inspections:Trenches should be inspected throughout the day and clearly marked to avoid slip and falls.

NYC Construction Accident Lawyers

At the law firm of Pazer, Epstein, Jaffe & Fein, we have been fighting for New York City workers in the construction trade for over 50 years. Steelworkers, roofers, construction workers, and electrical workers face some of the most dangerous working conditions in the nation, suffering catastrophic and permanent injuries when safety procedures are not prioritized.

All New York City workers deserve to be kept safe and healthy on the job. If you or a loved one has sustained a work-related injury, our knowledgeable team is here to help. Contact us for a free consultation to review your case and your rights to a safe work environment.

 

Sources:

NYC Open Data. “Projects In Construction Map”. City of New York, (Retrieved May 16). https://data.cityofnewyork.us/Housing-Development/Projects-in-Construction-Map/dzgh-ja44

“Good Construction Safety Topics for Spring”. United Rentals, (Retrieved May 16). https://www.unitedrentals.com/project-uptime/safety/good-construction-safety-topics-spring#/

“Work Overview”. National Safety Council Injury Facts, (Retrieved May 16). https://injuryfacts.nsc.org/work/work-overview/work-safety-introduction/

“10 Most Common Work Injuries for Construction Workers”. OrthoNow,(Retrieved May 16). https://injuryfacts.nsc.org/work/work-overview/work-safety-introduction/

“Medical Encyclopedia”. MedlinePlus,(Retrieved May 16). https://medlineplus.gov/ency/encyclopedia_R.htm

Occupational Safety and Health Administration. “Commonly Used Statistics”. United States Department of Labor,(Retrieved May 16).https://www.osha.gov/oshstats/commonstats.html