Construction is a high hazard occupation. During the period from 1980 through 1995, at least 17,000 construction workers died from injuries suffered on the job. Construction lost more workers to traumatic injury death than any other major industrial sector during this time period. Worldwide, construction workers are three times more likely to be killed and twice as likely to be injured as workers in other occupations. Construction has the third highest rate of death by injury. Only mining and agriculture experience higher rates. The leading causes are falls from elevations, trench cave-ins electrocution, etc.
Falls are the leading causes of fatal injury in the construction industry. In fact, half of all work-related fatal falls in the USA occur in the construction industry. "When a construction worker is injured, these injuries are often devasting to workers and to their families."
Between 1995 and 1999 an average of 362 fatal falls occurred each year. Construction falls often result from unprotected sides, wall openings and floor holes, improper scaffold construction, unguarded protruding steel or rebars, and misuse of portable ladder. Construction sites frequently have uprotected sides and edges, wall openings or floor holes at the same point during their construction. If sides and openings are not protected fatal and serious injuries can occur from workers falling through openings or from falling objects hitting workers. Construction site falls can be avoided by using guardrail systems, safety net systems or fall arrest systems such as lifelines or lanyards.
Unguarded protruding steel rebars, or reinforcing bars are extremely hazardous and are unfortunately frequently encountered on construction sites. If a worker stumbles onto an uguarded rebar he or she could be impaled resulting in serious internal injuries or death.
Rebar caps can provide impalement protection.
Falls often occur also as a result of falls from ladders. Cracked or broken rungs, steps, side rails, feet or locking components can affect the stability of a ladder. Improper positioning or improper equipment often leads to serious injury as well.
Most scaffolding accidents are caused either by the planking or the support collapsing, or by a worker falling from a scaffold due to a lack of guards, or a lack of a safety lines or netting. Falls from scaffolds often occur a result of negligent scaffold construction.
Excavation cave-ins cause serious and often fatal injuries to workers in the USA. Other injuiries which occur as a result of trench collapses, or cave-ins, include asphyxiation due to a lack of oxygen, inhalation of toxic materials, fire or drowning. Trenches collapses can occur for many reasons including: moving machinery near the edge of an excavation, causing the collapse of a wall within the excavation. Improper shoring or bracing can cause catastrophic injury to workers. Trench collapse can be avoided by daily inspections and strict adherence to plans and specifications.
An analysis by the NIOSH of workers’ compensation claims for 1976 to 1981 in the Supplementary Data System of the Bureau of Labor Statistics suggested that excavation cave-inns caused about 1,000 work-related injuries each year. Of these, about 140 of them resulted in permanent disability and 75 in death. Thus, this type of incident is a major cause of deaths associated with work in excavations and accounts for nearly 1% of all annual work-related deaths in the nation.
Electrical current exposes workers to a serious, widespread occupational hazard; practically all members of the workforce are exposed to electrical energy during the performance of their duties, and electrocutions occur to workers in various job categories. Many workers are unaware of the potential electrical hazards present in the work environment, which makes them more vulnerable to the danger of electrocution.
Electrocution can result in injuries ranging from to electrical burns to death. Electrical shocks have also caused workers to fall from elevated work surfaces or to lose control of handheld equipment, leading to severe injury.
Electrical risks at construction sites include: defective equipment, such as frayed cords, missing ground prongs, or cracked tool casing on electrical equipment, etc. The risk of electrical shocks is increased at construction sites, because of the likelihood of encountering wet and damp locations. Extension cords connecting fixed electrical system and a tool can become worn, and if energized conductors are exposed fatal electrocution can occur.