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How safe are you while working on a construction site?

Everybody who has anything to do with the construction injury -- and even those who do not -- know that it is one of the most hazardous industries. The fact that almost all of the top 10 most reported safety hazards involve construction sites indicates the validity of this statement. However, the sad truth is that many construction company owners in California prioritize profits over employee safety, often resulting in devastating consequences.

If construction is the industry in which you earn an income, taking some responsibility to protect yourself against known construction site hazards might allow you to return home unharmed every day. Knowledge of the safety guidelines of the California Division of Occupational Safety and Health is a good start, along with some first-aid skills.

Known construction site hazards

Safety authorities say there is little variation in the most frequently violated safety regulations from year to year. Your employer might fail to address some of the following issues:

  • Safety training: Every aspect of your job requires proper training. This includes learning how to recognize potential hazards and how to deal with them. Furthermore, you need training in the appropriate use of every piece of personal protective equipment, from your hard hat to fall arrest systems and respiratory equipment.
  • Hazard communication: While hazardous chemicals are common in industrial facilities, they could be present on construction sites. Cal/OSHA has strict regulation for proper labeling, storage and the need for educating employees about all hazardous substances they might encounter.
  • Fall protection: Falls are some of the primary risks in the construction industry, involving ladders, steel beams, elevator shafts, stairways, roofs and other elevated areas, and the height of a fall does not always determine the severity of the injuries. Safety harnesses, guardrails and other devices and measures can help prevent falls.
  • Scaffolds: Such accidents occur not only during the erection and dismantling of the structures but also when workers climb up or down, or when substandard planking or structural errors cause collapses.
  • Ladders: Construction workers use ladders of different types and sizes, all of which can cause severe injuries if they are in not used in the appropriate way or if they are in need of repair.
  • Respiratory protection: Working with stones, sand, cement dust and other products can expose you to fine particles that can damage your lungs if you work without respiratory protection. This type of device is also necessary for working in hazardous atmospheres such as the bottom of a deep trench.
  • Powered vehicles: Working on or around forklifts and other powered industrial vehicles are high-risk areas. You should never operate equipment without the necessary certification, and working near these machines requires care and alertness.
  • Other hazards: Electricity and unprotected working machinery are typical hazards in industrial plants, but could be present on construction sites as well.

What to do if you suffer injuries

On-the-job accidents happen in the construction industry, and despite the precautions you take, you might suffer injuries. It may be a good idea to become familiar with the steps to take in such an event. Prompt medical treatment and reporting the incident will be your first steps, and from there, the skills of experienced California legal counsel can guide you through the claims process to secure maximum workers' compensation insurance benefits for medical expenses, lost wages and more if applicable.

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