Homeowners and project supervisors may take certain steps to help ensure workers stay safe during new home construction projects. Due to the nature of their jobs, construction workers face numerous on-the-job safety hazards, which may cause accidents that result in serious injuries or death. According to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, construction accidents caused 1,061 work-related deaths in 2019.
Even on the safest of job sites, construction workers building residential projects may encounter a range of potential hazards. New home builds often require workers to perform tasks at height, putting them at risk for falls, which may cause serious or catastrophic trauma, including spinal cord injuries or traumatic brain injuries. Workers may also suffer occupational injuries due to slips or trips, airborne or material exposure, struck-by incidents, excessive noise, overuse or repetitive stress, and electrical accidents.
Before starting construction projects, homeowners or their contractors must obtain the necessary permits. New home projects may require permits including the following: building, grading, electrical, mechanical, septic and plumbing. Obtaining the appropriate permits may help ensure the contractor takes the necessary pre-build precautions for worker safety and aid in avoiding construction penalties.
Preparing the property for construction may help lay the groundwork for a safe job site and project completion. For example, this may include clearing the trees within about 20-feet of the house perimeter to ensure workers have adequate room to get around the site. Having a clear area to work in may help prevent some struck-by accidents on the worksite as workers may have enough space to safely perform their job tasks and to move around the site.
New home projects may require several inspections throughout the process, and going through them may help identify potential issues or hazards. Often, residential construction projects undergo foundation, rough framing, electrical and mechanical systems, plumbing, and final inspections to ensure compliance with the local building codes. Out-of-compliance issues may not only affect the building’s safety upon the project’s completion, but also the safety of those working on the project. Therefore, inspections may turn up potential issues that project supervisors or property owners may have overlooked.
To help avoid the potential risk posed by electrical cords and electricity on the worksite, construction workers may take electrical safety precautions. When setting up scaffolding or otherwise working at heights, workers should take note of their proximity to any electrical lines and use care to stay away from them as much as possible. Running electrical cords against the building whenever possible may help avoid some slips and trips or other such accidents involving such cords.
Even taking every precaution may not prevent all construction accidents, so using the appropriate construction personal protective equipment may help safeguard workers from serious occupational injuries or death. In addition to utilizing fall protection equipment, such as railings and harnesses, when working at heights, those employed on residential construction projects may benefit from wearing gear including goggles, earmuffs or plugs, face shields, helmets, hard-toed shoes, and gloves.