Of the numerous dangers that are common on construction sites in Colorado, there are four that OSHA considers the most fatal. These are extreme temperatures, handling materials manually, loud noises and contaminated air.
The hierarchy of controls
One major hazard is simply not being aware that these dangers exist. Preparedness and cautionary measures are two key ways that these risks are mitigated.
The other side of the coin is the control element. Under an effective hierarchy of controls, you can place priority on the risks at the highest level. This can make it easier to eliminate parts of the job that add these risks and substitute them with something else.
Some controls at the lower level include the proper use of PPE (personal protective equipment) and ensuring that all workers are fully trained for the duties they are expected to perform.
OSHA’s fatal four
Work on a construction site usually involves heavy and unwieldy materials that need to be moved around. As a consequence, this part of the job commonly is notorious for causing MSDs (musculoskeletal disorders). These can take the form of an injured back, sore muscles or ripped joints.
Construction sites are rarely quiet places. The noise often goes on for a long time at high decibels, which can cause hearing loss in the long term. That’s the first thing people usually think of, but it goes deeper than that.
Exposure to loud noises is known to raise blood pressure. It may also lead to cardiovascular disease and even dementia. This is why hearing protection is crucial, but the better solution is to find ways to bring down the noise level. When workers constantly have to wear hearing protection, it tends to make the job more challenging. It might even lead to more risks due to communication issues.
Common contaminants in the air include fumes, gases, dust, particulates and vapors. People often picture work activities like drilling, grinding and sanding as the cause of this risk.
There are also various forms of hot work like welding or cutting, which are all common culprits, but there’s also the use of solvents. And because the health effects generally occur long after the contaminant exposure, they’re one of the construction site dangers that are most commonly missed by workers’ compensation.
Extreme heat can lead to fatigue, rashes, syncope, exhaustion and heat stroke. The consequences can escalate until they become fatal if they’re not dealt with.