Common Causes of Injury Within the Construction Industry

While health and safety practices within construction industry have undoubtedly improved over the last few years, it is still considered to be one of the most dangerous industries to work in. This is borne out by figures released by the Health and Safety Executive that show that 51% of all non fatal injuries sustained in the workplace occur in the construction industry.

HSE also reports that during 2022/23, 45 workers were fatally injured in accidents on construction sites, a figure which is higher than any other working environment. There were also 4,038 non fatal injuries reported by employers under RIDDOR in 2022/23. All in all, accidents on construction sites resulted in the loss of more than 520,000 working days in 2022/23. This loss of working days combined with other things such as bodily injury claims, can have huge financial implications for the industry.

While it is clear there are certain risks associated with the construction industry,  there is no doubt that there is fierce determination within the industry to make the working environment a safer place.

Within this blog post we will look at some of the most common causes of injury, the types of injury that construction workers sustain, safety measures you can take, and what you should do if you are injured at work.

What are The Main Causes of Construction Industry Injuries?

The majority of accidents in the construction industry fall into 4 main categories which according to HSE (Health and Safety Executive) figures in 2022/23 were:  

  • Falls From Height – 33%
  • Slips Trips and falls – 30%
  • Being Struck By a Moving or Falling Object – 14%
  • Injured While Handling Lifting or Carrying – 7%

While these are the main categories, is does not mean injuries are limited to them. Let’s take a look at all the main reasons accidents occur in the construction industry in a little more depth and what could be done to avoid them.

Falls From Height

Falls from height are probably the most common of the four fatal categories of injury within construction. Because workers often need to work on scaffolding and use ladders to access it, the risk of falls from height is ever present. Some of the measures you can take to minimise the risk of falls include:

  • Wearing appropriate footwear
  • Performing regular safety inspections 
  • Ensuring your Ladders and scaffolding is fitted with handrails
  • Wear safety harnesses
  • Wear safety helmets and other relevant PPE
  • Utilise fall protection systems such as guardrails, canopies or toe boards

Falls from height can be the cause of some of the most serious injuries sustained by construction workers. Broken bones, spinal injuries and serious head or brain injuries are just a few of the conditions resulting from falls from height. 

Slips, Trips and Falls

Another common occurrence, slips, trips, and falls on the same level, are a major cause of injury in construction. Working outside in different weather conditions, workers are often exposed to slippery conditions underfoot, while the makeup of the site means there are sometimes loose cables, groundwork holes, or pieces of equipment lying around.

This can sometimes make it difficult to navigate round a site and put workers at risk of slipping or tripping. If you want to reduce the chances of suffering from a fall while at work you should:

  • Keep pathways clear at all times
  • Ensure you are wearing the correct safety footwear
  • Try and keep the site neat and tidy
  • Always clean up spillages when they happen
  • Make sure all tools and equipment is stored away

Injuries from falls include lower limb injuries such as broken bones, strains, ligament damage also arm and wrist injuries are other injuries commonly sustained by victims of slips and trips.

Being Hit By Falling Or moving Objects

Building materials, tools, bits of scaffolding falling from height are a constant menace for anyone working on site. The same can be said for all the different plant that is navigating its way round the site where there are often no proper road systems. Drivers going too fast or not concentrating can all lead to accidents.

Some of the steps you can take to keep your site safe and health and safety compliant include:

  • Avoid walking under ladders or scaffolding wherever possible
  • Make sure you have all necessary warning signs in place
  • Always wear a hard hat
  • Make sure anyone driving on site are qualified to drive the vehicle they are using
  • Carry out regular ongoing training
  • Make sure all your vehicles have warning indicators such as horns
  • Ban vehicles from reversing
  • Make sure wearing high-vis vests or shirts is mandatory

Manual Handling Injuries

By the very nature of the job, most construction work involves a lot of lifting and carrying. This can involve heavy materials such as bricks, breeze blocks, bags of cement and sand. Back, neck and knee injuries are a regular problem for anyone working in construction. Anyone who works in construction should receive proper manual handling training so they know how to lift properly and reduce the chances of sustaining injury.

Now, as we said, those are the four main causes of injury but there are others which while not as common are just as dangerous. These include:

  • Electrocution – this can lead to serious burns, electric shocks or in the most extreme cases death.
  • Trench Collapses – because of the sometimes unstable state of the ground, onsite workers could be at risk of ground collapses. This can lead to crush or impact injuries.
  • Vibration Injuries – It is not uncommon for construction workers to have to use vibrating power tools for extended periods of time, this can lead to you developing conditions such as vibration white finger or hand, arm vibration syndrome.

What Should you Do If you Have an Accident on Site?

If you are unfortunate enough to be injured at work, there are a few steps that you should take which are:

  • Report the accident immediately and make sure details are entered in the accident book
  • Make sure you seek medical help even if you consider the injuries to be minor it is important to have them documented
  • Get details of anyone who witnessed the accident you may need them to provide you or your employer or a third party with evidence later.
  • Take photos of the scene and your injuries

Remember, your employer has a duty of care while you are at work and if you are injured through the negligence of your employer or a colleague, you may be entitled to make a construction accident at work claim. Hopefully, the information contained in this blog post will have left you better informed about accidents in the construction industry and what you need to do if you are injured while working on site.

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