Construction workers beware of these common hazards

If you work in the Nebraska construction industry, it might be a good idea to protect your own safety instead of leaving it up to your employer. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration puts the responsibility of employee safety squarely on the shoulders of employers. However, construction sites pose countless safety hazards, some of which might threaten your life -- unless you take your own precautions.

This means never going without the necessary personal protective equipment and taking part in all safety training sessions. It might be up to you to learn how to recognize and mitigate common hazards if you want to return home unscathed after every shift.

Overexertion

Lifting, pulling, holding, pushing, throwing and carrying are all activities that cause overexertion and repetitive stress injuries. The following actions increase the risks:

  • Manual lifting: Lifting weights that exceed 50 pounds need the help of a co-worker or a mechanical or manual lifting device.
  • Improper lifting: Bend at your knees and not your waist to put the burden of lifting, moving, or carrying objects on your leg muscles instead of your back muscles.
  • Insufficient breaks: If you do repetitive work without taking frequent breaks, your body could suffer excessive wear and tear.

If you do not take care, you could develop debilitating and crippling pain and even severe impairment of movement.

Slips, trips and falls

The three ways in which you can avoid these occupational hazards include wearing proper footwear, ensuring good housekeeping and having quality walking surfaces. The following are hazards for which you can look out:

  • Slips: Floors that lack adequate traction, weather hazards, spills, oily or wet surfaces, and loose or frayed floor rugs or mats can lead to slip-and-fall accidents.
  • Trips: Randomly placed objects, clutter, uncovered cables, and obstructed views can cause you to trip, especially if you move about poorly illuminated areas.

The resulting injuries could include fractured bones, back and head injuries, lacerations, pulled muscles, and sprains.

Transportation-related accidents

Whenever you share your workplace with mobile equipment or vehicles, you need to be particularly vigilant and on the lookout for the following:

  • On the worksite: Whether you are a pedestrian worker or the operator of mobile equipment or a construction vehicle, taking special care is crucial.
  • On the road: If you are a road construction crew member, construction vehicles and those traveling through the construction zone will threaten your safety.

Do not lose sight of the fact that many vehicle-related accidents on construction sites are fatal.

Caught-in and struck-by accidents

Unguarded moving machine parts that reciprocate, transverse, rotate, or feed mechanisms and auxiliary pieces of equipment pose the following hazards:

  • Power transmission: Components of mechanical systems that threaten your safety include pulleys, flywheels, connecting rods, belts, cams, couplings, chains, gears, cranks and spindles.
  • Point of operation: Risky areas include those where materials are cut, shaped, bored or formed.

These hazards can cause severed fingers along with crushed or fractured arms and hands, and flying objects can cause blindness.

Fire or explosions

Make sure you are familiar with the evacuation plans and communication systems for emergency situations. The following are typical causes of explosions and fires:

  • Causes: Circumstances that frequently cause explosions or workplace fires include poor pipe fittings, faulty gas lines, open flames, and improperly stored combustible materials.
  • Potential injuries: Fires can cause respiratory system damage, disfigurement and varying degrees of burn injuries.
  • Blast injuries: Explosions can cause inhalation of toxic substances and could affect your GI tract, lungs and hearing. Flying objects can cause crushing injuries, fractured bones and more.

Compliance with prescribed safety regulations can prevent fires and explosions.

Your workers' compensation rights

The list of hazards you face on every shift will likely be endless, and very few construction workers manage to escape injuries throughout their careers. If you are the victim of a construction accident in Nebraska, you can utilize the skills of an experienced workers' compensation attorney to obtain financial assistance. The benefits will likely cover your medical expenses and a portion of your lost wages.

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