Top safety violations and how to address them

Certain safety guidelines, such as hazard communication, protective equipment education and fall protection, may be violated on construction sites.

No matter what industry a California worker is in, he or she could be fatally injured on the job. Over a five-year period, there were under 400 work-related deaths each year across the state according to the California Department of Industrial Relations. Of the 376 fatal occupational injuries in one year, 69 cases, or approximately 18% of reported incidents, happened in the construction industry. The biggest safety hazard on a construction site over this period was falls, slips and trips. Employers and employees alike need to become aware of the top safety violations in order to create a safer work environment.

Hazard communication

According to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, hazard communication standards were the second-most violated standard over the course of a single fiscal year. To comply with this safety guideline, employers must have safety data sheets readily available for all hazardous chemicals at the construction site. Not only do all dangerous materials have to be properly labeled, but workers should also receive thorough training on how to handle the chemicals in the safest way possible. Proper signage and training regarding chemical and electrical dangers can increase the overall safety of a construction site.

Protective equipment education

When used properly, protective equipment should increase the safety of construction workers. However, some employees may not know how or when to use personal protective equipment. Both respiratory protection and eye and face protection made it into the top 10 most common safety violations over a single year. While access to the appropriate safety gear is important, it may not be enough to actually keep everyone safe. Instead, the guideline requires those expected to use the respiratory, eye and face protection to also be trained on its use to make sure everyone understands how to wear the gear and when it should be used.

Fall protection

Falls are one of the biggest hazards on a construction site because employees are often expected to work on roofs, climb ladders or maneuver around trenches. Fall protection, scaffolding use, ladder use and fall protection training are all in the top 10 most frequently cited safety standards. Employers are expected to protect everyone on site by doing the following:

  • Providing safety harnesses, toe boards and handrails as needed
  • Keeping work areas clean and dry
  • Training workers on job dangers

Faulty ladders or poorly set up scaffolding can also lead to a fall-related safety violation. For this reason, regular inspections of the equipment are a necessary part of keeping all workers safe.

California construction workers may have a high risk of being seriously hurt while on the job. Whether an injury or fatality is caused by a safety violation or not, it may be beneficial for anyone involved to work with a knowledgeable attorney.