Building a Safer Industry: The Alarming Dangers of Construction Work

January 15, 2020

Did you know that in 2014 there were 899 fatalities in the construction industry? While this number has gone down, some of the most dangerous jobs you can work in are found in the construction industry. Keep reading as we explore some of the most dangerous types of construction work and what you can do to be safer if you work any of these jobs.


Scaffolding is dangerous when the scaffolds are not used properly or they are not erected the correct way. This is when you run a risk of falling and the higher you are the more dangerous the fall becomes.

A few things that will help workers be safer is to make sure the scaffold is erected on solid ground. Inspect the floor around you to make sure that there are no holes or hazardous items that will cause the scaffold to hit something or fall into a hole.

Do not ever use any boxes, blocks, or bricks to support the scaffold because this poses a huge danger once you are in the scaffold working. Make sure that the scaffold has guardrails, toeboards, and mid-rails to keep you safe inside. Make sure to only use a certified scaffold tower company when you're starting a new site, they have the inside knowledge to keeping everything to code and safe.

The scaffold has to be inspected by someone that is trained with scaffolds to make sure that everything is working correctly and that the platforms are still tightly planked.

If the scaffold is using natural rope or synthetic rope for suspension scaffolding it has to be protected from heat-producing sources. Please keep in mind that if the scaffold is near an electric power line it has to be at least ten feet away from it no matter what.


Believe it or not, ladders and stairways are another big source of injuries and fatalities for those doing construction work. In fact, OSHA has a very specific requirement for how ladders are used.

The first recommendation to stay safe when it comes to using ladders on your shift is to use the correct ladder for the job at hand. Also, inspect the ladder to make sure there are no defects or that it has any broken or missing steps.

If the ladder is not long enough to reach the area you are working in do not use it. This can cause a serious injury or fatality if you do not have enough support while you are working.

If you ever find a ladder that is not in good condition make sure that you put a sign on it letting co-workers know that this ladder should not be used. Even better if you can throw it away immediately.

Every ladder has a maximum intended load - make sure you follow this number. Do not go over the rating it's intended for when you start to add materials and tools.

Last but not least if there are overhead power lines or electrical work nearby avoid using any ladders that have metallic components.

Head Protection

You can suffer from a serious head injury while you are working around different materials and tools. This is why it's a must to wear heard hats when you are at a site that objects can fall from above.

Construction sites tend to have plenty going on at once between electrical workers, drywall workers, and many others building away. You can have something either fall on your head or you can even bump your head on something. Having a hard hat on at all times will keep you safer.


If you are in a construction site that has stairways make sure to always be on the lookout. You want to make sure that the walkways and the stairway treads are free of any work debris, materials, or dangerous objects.

Also, make sure that the stairs are not slippery. If something is every spilled or you find a stairway that has slippery conditions this has to be corrected immediately to keep everyone safe. The last thing anyone wants is for a worker to be coming down the steps with materials on hand and slips and falls because no one corrected the situation.

If the stairway has four or more risers or is higher than 30 inches total it has to have at least one handrail. If the construction site you are working at does not follow these guidelines make sure that someone is informed about unsafe working conditions.


If you are required to use a forklift for your position you must be trained and certified to operate the forklift. Do not ever let anyone make you feel like you have to operate it if you do not have the training to do so. If you do this can be hazardous for not only yourself but your fellow co-workers.

The tires have to be inspected and maintained to ensure safety. Before operating the forklift make sure to do a visual inspection to make sure that everything looks pretty normal and that there are no flat tires.

If there are any modifications or attachments made to the forklift you will be using make sure that this was done with written approval from the manufacturer of the forklift. If not, this can cause a serious hazard.

While you are operating the forklift make sure that you do not drive more than 5 mph and go even slower if the area is congested or if the surface is slippery and ALWAYS wear your seatbelt while you are operating the forklift.


If you are going to be trenching make sure to never enter an unprotected trench. Make sure that the trench you are entering has an exit for an emergency. This exit can be with a ladder, ramp, or even a stairway.

You have the right to ask when the trench was last inspected if you are new to the job site. They should be able to provide you with proof that the trench was inspected recently by someone that is competent to inspect it. When there are rainstorms or anything similar the trench has to be inspected again.


When cranes are not used properly it can cause serious injuries or fatalities. Typically the injuries come from someone being struck by a load or when someone is caught in the swing radius of the crane.

To avoid any accidents check all of the crane controls to make sure that you understand what each control does before using it. Make sure that you inspect the chains, hook, and the wire rope to make sure that it does not have any damage.

Double-check the rated capacity the crane is able to lift and do not under any circumstances let your load exceed this number. If there are any workers around do not move the load over their heads and put them in danger.

Lastly, make sure that you look out for any overhead electricity lines.

What If You Suffer From an Injury While at Work?

Now that you are aware of the most common and dangerous types of work in the construction field you might be wondering what should you do if you or someone you know was in an accident. First, you want to file a construction injury claim because if a contractor or property manager fail to follow OSHA's (Occupational Safety and Health Administration) standards and this contributed to your accident then you can sue for compensation. However, in a majority of cases, the workers' compensation system prevents workers from suing their employers. This is when you can file a third party lawsuit after workers comp.

The next step is to get yourself checked out by a healthcare professional. Make sure that you have X-rays, MRIs and anything that is needed to make sure that you are ok. A medical provider can determine if you need therapy for your injury or not.

Make sure that you keep records and receipts of all of your medical visits and results. You might need these later if you are fighting for compensation for your injuries.

The last step is to contact a lawyer with experience in personal injury cases such as A professional attorney will be able to go over your case and let you know what your legal options are for your situation. They will be helpful in navigating everything legal related that you might not understand.

Construction Work: Safety First

As you can see the most important thing when it comes to construction work is to keep safety in mind. Even when there are deadlines to meet, your safety should always be the priority. If you are injured at work and it was someone else's negligence you have the right to pursue justice for the pain and suffering from your injury.

Did you find this article helpful? Make sure to check back often for all things architecture, engineering, and travel!

JJ Sterling
As the co-founder of Urban Splatter and an architecture graduate from Chicago, I thrive on crafting a digital nexus where architectural innovation intersects with boundless digital opportunity. My academic roots in the Windy City's rich architectural tapestry inspire a unique vision for Urban Splatter's journey into the ever-evolving digital frontier of design. Join us as we navigate the exciting confluence of structure, style, and technology.

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