Despite the fact that the rate of serious workplace accidents and injuries is decreasing with a heightened awareness of PPE and good health and safety practices, it’s still crucial for construction workers to stay safe on site. Construction has been identified by the HSE as the most dangerous sector in the UK, with 40 workers losing their lives due to fatal workplace accidents in the period 2019-2020. With site safety in mind, what are the most common injuries and health problems experienced by construction industry workers, and what can we do to prevent these?
Because workers in the construction sector often perform repetitive and labour-intensive physical tasks, they’re more prone to back pain and sprains, strains and tearing of the ligaments and muscles. Over time, this can lead to musculoskeletal disorders including carpal tunnel syndrome, tendinitis, ‘carpet layers’ knee’, Raynaud’s syndrome, thoracic outlet syndrome and degenerative disc disease. Musculoskeletal injuries of the hand, arms, shoulders and neck may be worsened by failing to wear appropriate PPE such as proper work gloves when using manual tools and equipment. Ensure that you can access the necessary PPE – avoid excessive muscular strain and take a break when you need a rest.
Cuts and Lacerations
Many construction workers use heavy machinery and potentially dangerous raw materials, so it’s no surprise that cuts and lacerations are also common injuries in the sector. Any sharp object can cause a cut or laceration, which could be a potentially life-threatening injury – if you’re a business owner in the construction trade, conduct regular risk assessments to bolster the safety of your sites and reduce the chances of an accident. While it may seem like ‘just a scratch’, a sharp edge could lead to a fatality on site.
Construction workers are often exposed to loud noises, which can lead to hearing loss and deafness over time – for this reason, it’s essential that your crew have access to hearing protection when they’re working with heavy machinery or exposed to harmful noise. You must also ensure that your workers select the necessary eye protection to avoid eye damage caused by flying debris, dust and building materials.
Workers in the construction trade may have a higher incidence of respiratory diseases such as silicosis and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), which can cause breathing difficulties and damage the lungs. This is often due to inhaling hazardous substances such as chemicals, sawdust and construction dust.
Male construction industry workers are more likely to suffer from mental health problems or commit suicide than those in other sectors. Promote well-being in your crew and don’t be afraid to talk about mental health.
Although the rate of accidents and injuries in the construction sector is still relatively high, employers and employees can significantly reduce their likelihood by sticking to health and safety guidelines, following training and making use of the necessary PPE, especially when carrying out potentially dangerous work.
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