Shocking Safety Facts
What safety facts and statistics do you know? Did you know that workplace safety has only become a top priority for companies in recent decades? And although the industrial revolution started in the 18th century, Canada and the US only introduced their first occupational health and safety acts in the 1970s? Despite the increase in safety, there are still a large amount of incidents, injuries and fatalities that are present in construction and other heavy industries. To combat this, Canada created the Canadian Centre for Occupational Health and Safety (CCOHS), and the US created the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA). These bodies helped to create regulations surrounding safety and impose severe consequences for individuals and companies that did not see the importance of safety and proper training. However, this increase in safety awareness has yielded fantastic results. Consider how OSHA has reduced work-related injuries and illnesses in the US; the rate of accidents per 100 workers has reduced from 10.8 to 2.8 from 1972 to 2019. That’s right, within 47 years there has been a 74% reduction in accidents and fatalities!
Here are five safety facts that may shock you…
1) Safety Signs That Warn You of Danger Reduce Accidents By Up to 80%
Some workplaces seem to have an excessive number of safety signs –especially in heavy industries like manufacturing and energy. However, all these signs exist for a reason; a study found that they can reduce accidents by up to 80%. When you walk into a factory floor or a construction site full of signs, you’re immediately aware of all the hazards present.
Depending on the industry, there could be several different types of safety signs present at one worksite For example, you will encounter WHMIS symbols when there are hazardous materials present and warning signs for hazards like high voltage or heavy machinery in motion. Each of these signs notifies you of the potential dangers and encourages you to keep them top of mind when around the area to ensure your safety.
2) The Chance of Death Throughout a Construction Worker’s Career is 1-in-200
If you want to avoid accidents in construction projects, safety training for your workers is critical. According to a study by the Center for Construction Research and Training, nearly all construction workers will suffer at least one injury during their lifetime. Assuming a 45-year career, the risk of a disabling injury is 70%, and the risk of fatal injury is 1 in 200. Also, a construction worker who starts at age 20 has a 15% chance of developing obstructive lung disease by age 85.
The following are some of the most dangerous industries, in terms of fatality rates per 100,000 workers:
- Agriculture, forestry, fishing, and hunting: 23
- Mining: 15
- Transportation and warehousing: 14
- Construction: 10
Note that injury and fatality rates are average values for entire industries – when you look at individual companies, their numbers could be much better! With a solid safety program that is supported by technology and ongoing training, many accidents can be prevented.
3) Falls Are the Biggest Risk for Construction Workers
Falls don’t just happen on high-rise projects, even falling from a house roof or into a shallow trench can be fatal. Construction workers are constantly at risk for falls on their job sites. According to OSH Canada, falls affect more than 40,000 construction workers each year.
Some common issues that cause falls in construction projects are lack of lighting, slippery surfaces, lack of guardrails, damaged ladders or scaffolds, and improper use of fall protection equipment. The risk of falls is also higher when safety procedures are not followed, or when workers don’t have enough training.
4) The Average Cost of a Construction Injury -Fatal or Not- is $27,000
The main goal of safety programs is to protect workers, but accidents also have a major financial impact on companies. According to a study published in the Accident Analysis and Prevention Journal, the average cost of a construction injury is $27,000 – much higher than the average cost across all industries, which is $15,000. The average cost per injury increases to $42,000 when days away from work are involved, and it jumps to $4 million for fatal injuries!
When dealing with a construction injury, medical expenses are the first cost that may come to your mind. However, an accident also involves stop-work orders, legal penalties, and other consequences that drive up its total cost.
5) The “Fatal Four” Accounts for 60% of All Construction Deaths
We already discussed how falls are the main hazard for construction workers. They are also one of the “Fatal Four” – the four incident types that cause 60% of construction deaths: falls, electrocutions, being struck by objects, and being caught in (or in-between) objects.
OSHA provides specific recommendations to prevent each of the fatal four accidents, which are summarized below:
- Preventing Falls: Proper equipment, perimeter protection, guards and labels for floor openings, proper use of ladders and scaffolds.
- Preventing Electrocution: Identifying utility equipment and power lines before starting, following safe distance requirements, grounded & double-insulated electric tools, ground-fault circuit interrupters, staying alert for general electrical hazards when working at height.
- Preventing Struck-By: Wearing high visibility clothes, not standing between moving and fixed objects.
- Preventing Caught-In & In-Between: Never enter a trench unless all the necessary protection measures are followed.
These are just a few precautions you can take to prevent the fatal four. On an actual construction site, you should have a well-designed safety program, extensive training, and proper PPE available to all workers.
Being aware of these safety facts is the first step towards increasing employee safety. Safety has thankfully become increasingly important over the last few decades. However, there are still accidents that happen even with legislation and well-trained staff. With stringent rules and new training requirements being put in place, safety software and other technology should be explored to aid in keeping employees up to date on training and ultimately, keep them safer. Deploying a safety management system, helping your employees to continually learn, and being an example of safety is important for your company’s health and ongoing success.