What are the occupational risks of working on a construction site?
Construction work is widely associated with employee exposure to unsafe working conditions. It is not wrong to assume that the nature of construction work is in itself inherently dangerous. However, most construction accidents originate from unsafe working practices that have very little to do with a worker’s competency. Employer negligence creates opportunities for serious accidents. Improved working conditions that require the observance of strict health and safety rules safeguarded by relevant workers’ laws are imperative. Ultimately, the goal is to eliminate, as best as possible, dangerous, harmful, and nuisance factors.
- A dangerous factor may lead to serious, catastrophic injury, or death. Examples include:
- Electric current and explosion of pressure equipment (cylinders, boilers, tanks), gas pipes and installations, and gas-air mixtures. The risk of explosion may be related to improper operation of devices and leakage of pipes, as well as malfunction of control and measurement of construction materials.
- A harmful factor may lead to the deterioration of human health. Examples include:
- Abnormal loud noise, mechanical vibrations, low temperature, high air humidity, incorrect lighting, and chemical factors such as solvents, asphalt fumes, and dust from asbestos.
- A nuisance factor does not constitute a threat to human life or health, but it can hinder work performance or other activities. Examples include:
- Lifting and carrying loads*
- Forced body position
*Work in which lifting and carrying loads is a frequent activity may cause excessive physical fatigue, and overload of muscles, joints and the spine. The effects may be the exhaustion of the body, reduced physical capacity, increased susceptibility to accidents, and injuries to the tendons and the spine.
In preventing the effects of heavy lifting and overexertion, it is important to define the correct ways of carrying loads at individual workplaces and to train employees in safe techniques. Efforts should be made to reduce and eliminate manual handling of loads, transitioning instead to transport devices such as trolleys and lifts.
OSHA regulations stand as the basis for the implementation of planned preventive activities by employers. The employer is obliged to carry out tests and measurements of factors harmful to health at their own expense and make their results available to employees and state inspectors. Measurements of chemical and physical factors can be performed by:
- The Department of Sanitation
- Research and development units in the field of occupational medicine
- Labor protective services
- Laboratories accredited and approved in testing by the state
The most common dangerous factors causing injuries include mechanical factors, such as:
- Moving, mainly rotating, parts of machines and other devices and tools
- Sharp protruding parts
- Falling elements
- Slippery, uneven surfaces
- Limited spaces (walkways and passages)
Stress can also cause fatigue and reduce mental performance, resistance to diseases, the efficiency of eyesight, hearing, and precision manual activities. As a consequence, it leads to an increase in the number of mistakes made at work, wrong decisions, poor safety assessment, and a lack of motivation to perform daily duties. The causes of stress include bad work organization, the forced pace of work, too much work, and bad interpersonal relations.