By Alex Kagwima, NHEO Institute Corporate Communications
Did you know that construction is the leading industry in workplace fatalities?
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, there was a 7% increase in the United States in 2016 compared to 2015. This is the third consecutive increase in annual workplace fatalities. Since 2008, this is the first time more than 5,000 fatalities were recorded by the Census of Fatal Occupational Injuries. It is evident that safety on construction sites is paramount.
Amongst these fatalities, electrocution is the second most fatal death with construction workers, which include contact with power lines, contact with energized sources, and improper use of extension and flexible cords. In order to prevent this from happening, here are five ways to ensure employee safety.
1. Personal Protective Equipment (PPE)
Working with electricity requires a set of specialized equipment, such as insulating gloves, hoods, sleeves, matting, blankets, line hose, and nonconductive hard hats. Furthermore, workers need to examine their equipment before using it to inspect it for wear and tear. If the equipment is not up to par then they must replace it or repair it.
2. Insulation inspections
Majority of electrical devices are insulated in order to prevent employees from getting shocked. However, over time and continuous use, the insulation can become weakened. In order to prevent injuries from shock, worker must inspect extension cords and tools before every use.
3. Only Use ground fault circuit interrupters or GFCIs
In order to lower electrical shock-related damages, the OSHA electrical standard needs employers to provide either GFCIs for receptacle outlets, or an assured equipment grounding conductor program, which can eliminate ground fault electric shock hazards.
4. Lock and Tag
One of the most effective ways to lower electrical shock is utilizing lockout and tag out equipment. In order to use this method, workers must either place a tag or lock on a source of power while performing maintenance. For example, an employee would involve tagging a circuit breaker box when replacing a ceiling fan.
5. Power Line Safety
Power lines have the strongest electrical currents. It is imperative for workers to take every precaution while working with them. While working with overhead power lines, workers should only use wood or fiberglass ladders, so as not to get shocked due to metal on metal contact. In addition, workers should call the local utility company before they begin to dig up underground lines to prevent contact with buried lines.
Safety is our priority at NHEO! We are committed to identifying ways to improve the safety & health conditions of construction workers and their families; especially those hard to reach, or those who need extra help due to cultural and language barriers. Learn more about the Building a Safer Future campaign here.