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Why is the construction industry so dangerous?

Due to the nature of the work that must be completed, the construction industry is inherently dangerous. Men and women who work at construction sites are routinely exposed to hazardous working conditions that put them at risk of suffering injuries related to falls, machinery and structural collapses.

According to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, an estimated 6.5 million Americans work at U.S. construction sites. In this blog post, we'll examine some of the leading causes of construction accidents and measures employers are required by federal law to take to protect and minimize the risk to workers of suffering injury or death.

Work carried out by construction workers frequently put these individuals at risk for suffering fall-related injuries. In fact, OSHA reports that "falls consistency account for the greatest number fatalities in the construction industry." This isn't surprising considering that workers must often scale ladders, scaffolding and other structures. To help prevent fall accidents, employers should use elevated platforms and guardrails to provide workers with secure footing and fall barriers and also provide and require that workers wear safety harnesses. 

In addition to fall-related hazards, injuries resulting from the use of or close proximity to construction machinery are also common among construction workers. For example, OSHA estimates that annually 95,000 workers are injured and 100 killed in forklift-related accidents. The use of cranes at construction sites also poses an increased risk to both the crane operator as well as other workers. An overloaded or poorly maintained crane may tip over, malfunction or hit electrical lines. 

For construction workers who are involved in excavation work, trenching collapses are a serious concern. Prior to a worker entering a trench, measures must be taken to ensure a trench was dug properly and is sufficiently supported to reduce the risk of collapse. Additionally, employers must ensure a trench provides workers an emergency exit option like a ladder or ramp. 

Construction companies and employers who fail to follow OSHA regulations and take proper measures to provide for the health and safety of workers may be subject to fines, penalties and legal action. 

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