Tips for increasing safety on construction sites in New York

Construction workers face numerous hazards in the workplace, which could lead to serious injuries, but there are steps they can take to help improve safety.

Construction workers build, repair and remodel roads, buildings and other structures throughout New York, and across the country. On any given day, there are close to 6.5 million people working at about 252,000 construction sites in the U.S., according to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration. While there is a risk of occupational injuries and illnesses for nearly every occupation, the danger may be greater for workers in the construction industry. However, there are steps that people can take to help improve worksite safety, and reduce the risk of construction accidents.

Common construction site dangers

Due to the nature of the work, those in the construction industry face a wide range of hazards in the workplace. This includes falling from significant heights, being injured in a scaffold or trench collapse, suffering electric shock, or getting struck by or caught in equipment. Construction workers may also be exposed to radioactive, poisonous and other harmful substances, or they may suffer repetitive motion injuries due to the use of certain tools and equipment.

Conduct regular training

In New York City, major construction sites are required to have a safety site manager or coordinator, or a construction superintendent, according to the city's website. Those employed in these positions are certified in site safety. It is their job to protect the workers, as well as the property and the public, during construction.

Additionally, employers should conduct training for their employees. This training should educate workers about hazards in the workplace, proper safety techniques and protocols, and how to help prevent construction accidents. Employers should also ensure that employees are properly trained on the correct and safe use of tools and equipment on the worksite.

Regularly inspect and maintain equipment

If tools or equipment are defective, damaged or in need of maintenance, it may increase workers' risk of being injured on the job. As such, it is important for employers to regularly inspect the equipment to ensure that it is in good working condition. Workers who notice that equipment or tools are not functioning properly should report it to their employers right away so they can be repaired or replaced.

Furthermore, employers should also regularly walk through the worksite to look for dangerous working conditions and other problem areas. Any hazardous materials should be identified and labeled. Additionally, unsafe areas should be identified and, when possible, blocked off.

Use the appropriate safety equipment and gear

Some falls, and other construction accidents, result from workers not using the appropriate safety gear. As such, it is helpful for employers to not only provide harnesses, guardrails, safety nets and other safety equipment, but also to emphasize the importance of its use. For their part, workers should always use the provided safety gear, and encourage their co-workers to do the same.

Likewise, it is also important for those who work on construction sites to use personal protective equipment. This includes wearing hard hats, gloves, eye protection and the appropriate clothing.

Seek legal counsel

Even when they and their employers are cautious, New York construction workers may still be injured in work-related accidents. While suffering occupational injuries may entitle them to workers' compensation, obtaining the benefits they are entitled to may be difficult for some. Therefore, people who have been injured while working on a construction site may benefit from working with an attorney. A legal representative may help them to understand their rights, as well as guide them through the claims process.