As construction season revs up, Americans nationwide are redirecting their attention toward safety.
The National Safety Council declared June National Safety Month in 1996. Unlike construction industry-sponsored months of awareness, National Safety Month is a united initiative that spans across all industries as well as within our homes. It’s this kind of support that will transform our nation’s safety culture and make it second nature to all.
Given the wide range of individuals National Safety Month aims to inform, they select four different types of health and safety issues every June. The 2023 topics include:
- Emergency preparedness
- Slips, trips and falls
- Heat-related illness
- Hazard recognition
We as a construction community want to show our commitment to this national effort. We’re asking all I Build America community members to get involved:
- Share your commitment to safety on social with #gogreenforsafety.
- Take the SafeAtWork Pledge.
- Sign up now for free access to helpful resources including tip sheets, articles and more.
While casting a wide safety net, we also would like to dedicate this month to decreasing the number of “Focus Four Construction Hazard” incidents.
New to the Focus Four? Also known as the “Big Four Hazards,” these are the most common risks OSHA has identified for construction sites. They include: falls, electrocution, caught-in and struck-by. As of 2019, these four hazards made up 64.3% of construction worker deaths.
Though it might seem like a simple fix, falls are a top concern for the construction industry today. And, with good reason. The CDC reports that falls account for more than ⅓ of all fatalities. Fall protection is important at heights from as low as 6 ft to as high as 30 ft and up. Though each worker must take personal responsibility for their own balance, the crew as a whole can look out for one another and create a safe foundation for all.
Electricity is all around us and with it come electrical hazards. Awareness will help decrease the prevalence of this hazard, which currently makes up 8.5% of construction industry fatalities. Before beginning work, it’s important to locate utilities and power lines and then maintain a safe distance throughout each shift.
Workers find themselves pinned between structures or stuck in a cave-in most commonly at excavation sites. Preparation is key for preventing this common hazard, which makes up 5.5% of construction industry fatalities. OSHA encourages construction crews to avoid unprotected trenches, create proper shield systems, and never position oneself between moving and fixed objects.
Most often associated with incidents on the ground level, struck-by hazards also include flying and falling objects. This incident is incredibly common, making up 15% of all construction industry fatalities. It’s difficult to prevent, given that workers may not be directly working with said object, but each team can work together to ensure proper materials handling, material storage, work zone safety and adequate personal protective equipment.
As we work toward making the Focus Four an afterthought, we invite every member of the construction industry to redirect their attention to each of the weekly topics throughout National Safety Month. Together, we can make our industry and our nation safer.