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Building boom means continued focus on construction safety

The Pittsburgh area is in the midst of a building boom, and the construction industry has applauded by providing hundreds of workers to participate in a number of projects that include constructing three new hospitals, offices, apartment complexes and $6 billion chemical plant.

While the news has meant another boon for the economy, it once again puts the spotlight on workplace safety. Construction workers face several on-the-job hazards that usually are unique to the industry. Millions of construction job-related injuries are reported each year.

Common causes for construction deaths

This is why proper training and safety awareness continue to be priorities in the construction industry. More than 21 percent of worker fatalities reported in 2016 were attributed to the construction industry. That year, 991 construction-related deaths were reported among the 4,693 total workplace deaths that year.

The four most common causes of death in the construction industry are falls; being struck by an object; electrocutions; and caught in/between incidents such as collapsing structures, trenches and equipment. The 384 deaths related to falls in 2016 accounted for the most with nearly 39 percent.

Safety tips for construction workers

Here are some potential life-saving tips that any construction worker can rely on:

  • Get properly trained in areas such as how to use a ladder; the best ways to minimize repetitive-motion-related injuries; and how to operate certain machinery.
  • Carefully inspect ladders and scaffolding. The slightest defect such as a cracked ladder or improperly assembled scaffold can prove fatal.
  • Wear the proper personal protective equipment. A hard hat may help minimize an injury from a fall. Protective eyewear will help, and hearing protection is a necessity around loud noises. Working with toxic chemicals, usually requires wearing haz-mat suits and facial masks to prevent respiratory diseases.
  • Stay several feet away from power lines as electrocutions were the source of more than 8 percent of construction fatalities in 2016.

As always, the Pittsburgh area wants to enjoy a safe construction season. By focusing on safety, construction companies may help prevent on-site accidents. Doing so is in the best interests of everyone involved, especially the construction workers who are turning building plans into realities.

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