Focus on Construction Safety – With Focus Four Training
Construction is the second largest employer in the U.S. alone – and is one of the most dangerous occupations in the country, with more occupational fatalities than any other sector in the United States. Of the total inspections conducted by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), 60% are construction inspections, so it's no wonder that construction safety is at the top of OSHA’s list of concerns.
With hundreds of thousands of workers in assorted trades, construction activities present many hazards that can compromise worker health and safety, making it imperative for employers to understand and train on the top safety issues so workers can stay safe on the job at all times.
Four Life-Saving Lessons
OSHA has recognized four construction hazards that are responsible for the majority of financial, physical, and emotional losses in construction industry.
OSHA’s Focus Four Hazards are:
- Fall Hazards
- Caught-In-Between Hazards
- Struck-By Hazards
- Electrical Hazards
OSHA found that 85% of all citations, 90% of dollars applied as fines, and 79% of all fatalities are related to these four construction hazards.
The Construction Focus Four Module (or Focus Four Hazards) was developed in support of the already existing [OSHA] Construction Outreach Program’s effort to help workers in the construction industry understand the hazards they face and know what their employer’s responsibilities are regarding protecting workers from workplace hazards. The Construction Focus Four Module is required in both the 10-hour and 30-hour OSHA Construction Outreach Training Program classes, and with each focus four hazard, there is an objective for what each student should be able to do at the end of training.
Hazard 1: Fall Hazards
Fall hazards that occur on a jobsite are a severe, chronic problem in the construction industry and are present at most worksites on a daily basis. A fall hazard is anything at a worksite that could cause workers to lose their balance or lose bodily support and result in a fall; any walking or working surface can be a potential fall hazard.
According to OSHA, falls from heights are the leading cause of fatalities in construction, while falls on the same level are one of the leading causes of injuries. In 2010, falls accounted for 35 percent of all construction fatalities, or about 260 deaths, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.
Hazard 2: Caught-In or -Between Hazards
According to OSHA, caught-in or -between hazards are defined as injuries that result from a person being squeezed, caught, crushed, pinched, or compressed between two or more objects, or between parts of an object. Some working conditions that especially contribute to caught-in or –between hazards include:
- Unguarded moving machinery
- Equipment that is not locked-out during maintenance
- Unprotected excavations and trenches
- Heavy equipment that causes walls to collapse during demolition
- Working between moving materials and immovable structures, vehicles, or equipment
Hazard 3: Struck-By Hazards
Struck-by injuries are produced by forcible contact or impact between the injured person and an object or piece of equipment, not to be confused with caught-in or –between hazards. The difference is that for struck-by accidents, the impact alone caused the injury, versus a caught accident where injury resulted from crushing injuries between objects. To get a better idea, struck-by hazards are categorized as a flying object, falling object, swinging object, or rolling object – such as:
- Crane collapses
- Falling equipment loads
- Faulty overhead power lines
- Non-visible workers
- A blast of compressed air
Hazard 4: Electrocution Hazards
In the United States, electrocutions are the fourth leading cause of death among construction workers. According to OSHA, electrocution results when a person is exposed to a lethal amount of electrical energy. The top three types of electrocution hazards in construction are contact with overhead power lines, contact with energized sources, and improper use of extension and flexible cords. An electrical hazard can be defined as a workplace occurrence that exposes workers to the following dangers, as outlined by the acronym BE SAFE:
- Burns – The most common shock-related injury. Can be one of 3 types: electrical, arc/flash, or thermal contact
- Electrocution – This results when a human is exposed to a lethal amount of electrical energy
- Shock – Results when the body becomes part of the electrical circuit by entering the body at one point and leaving at another
- Arc Flash/Arc Blast – This is the sudden release of electrical energy through the air when a high-voltage gap exists and there is a breakdown between conductors, giving off thermal radiation (heat) and intense light that can cause burns. Temperatures have been recorded to reach 35,000 degrees Fahrenheit
- Fire – Result from problems with ‘fixed wiring’, such as faulty electrical outlets and old wiring. Fire can also be caused by cord problems, plugs, receptacles, and switches
- Explosions – Can occur when electricity ignites an explosive mixture of material in the air
Utilizing the Focus Four Hazard training at a construction site is a must to ensure that the proper safety precautions are being taken for worker safety. The problem is not that the hazards and risks are unknown; it is that they are very difficult to control in a constantly changing work environment – especially in construction.
By understanding and training on the top four hazards, your workers will be able to understand the hazards they face and know what their employer’s responsibilities are regarding protection from workplace hazards and creating a safer work environment.
Stay Safe with Summit
Summit has the safety training you need to stay in compliance and protect your workers against the hazards of OSHA’s Focus Four. Visit the site below for more information.
"Construction Quick Facts." Associated Builders and Contractors, n.d. Web. 27 Jan. 2013.
"Construction Industry - Construction Focus Four Training." OSHA Outreach Training Program. United States Department of Labor, n.d. Web. 27 Jan. 2013.
"Construction Focus 4: OSHA Student Handbook." MANCOMM, n.d. Web. 01 Feb. 2013.
"Construction Safety and Health." Workplace Safety & Health Topics Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 8 Feb. 2011. Web. 01 Feb. 2013.