Knowing what amounts to construction site violations gives you a better understanding of what to report when calling the relevant authorities. Some common violations include:
Lack of Face Protection
Construction workers must protect their faces while working under certain conditions. In addition, the protection must meet OSHA's Eye and Face Protection standards.
Lack of face protection can cause partial or permanent blindness, especially if it's a case of a chemical splash. Dust or airborne particles can also get in contact with unprotected eyes, requiring optical surgery as a result.
Workers may also suffer cuts and punctures on their faces if they don't use face protection at a construction site. Such injuries could lead to partial facial paralysis or even disfigurement in extreme cases.
Lack of Fall Protection
Any construction site that involves work done 6 feet or higher must have fall protection. This protection may be provided in the form of a guardrail system, personal arrest system, safety net, or any other qualifying system.
Construction companies must ensure that the construction site is free of holes, trenches, pits, walls, dangerous ramps, slippery walkways, faulty and hazardous equipment, etc.
Fall protection also covers protection from falling objects. To prevent this, construction workers must wear hard hats while working at sites with a high risk of falling debris and other construction materials. The exact fall protection system depends on the nature of the construction work. Some sites may need toeboards, guardrail systems, screens, and other safety features to protect workers and the general public from falling objects.
Common injuries caused by lack of fall protection include spinal cord injuries, brain damage, broken limbs, etc. Such injuries may require surgery to fix, while others may not be easily reversible. For example, spinal cord injuries can lead to paralysis. As a result, the victim may need the help of a wheelchair to move around. They may also need a caregiver to assist with their activities of daily living.
Lack of Training
Construction companies are required to train their employees, specifically regarding safety at the construction site. This prevents the risks of injuries to the workers and general public. At the end of the training, construction workers must confirm in writing that they've been trained regarding on-site safety. In addition, the training officers or supervisors must also certify that they've overseen the training process.
Lack of training exposes workers and the general public to various injuries at a construction site. For example, both workers and civilians may get hurt by falling objects from the construction site.
Improper Use of Ladders
Construction site managers must also ensure that any ladders used at the construction site adhere to OSHA's ladder safety standards. The same also applies to construction workers using such ladders.
A construction site may be judged to have violated OSHA's rules if a ladder:
- loads more than the manufacturer's rated capacity;
- is used in a manner that's not intended by the manufacturer;
- has visible defects such as broken steps, corroded materials, or is generally unsafe to use;
- is mounted on a slippery or unstable surface;
- lacks proper locking devices to prevent collapsing or unexpected shifts; or
- lacks safety features if the ladder exceeds 24 feet.
Injuries caused by ladders can be serious and life-changing. Some victims may be able to go back to work after a few weeks or months, while some never get the chance to resume their normal lives. Common injuries caused by ladder violations include spinal cord injuries, broken bones, brain damage, etc.
While using a ladder might seem relatively straightforward, some individuals often overlook the importance of ensuring that all safety requirements are met beforehand. According to statistics, more than 300 people die in the United States every year due to ladder-related injuries, while more than 164,000 people are admitted to the emergency room for related injuries.
Lack of Hazard Communication
Construction companies must notify workers about certain hazardous conditions or materials at the construction site. In addition, dangerous materials must be clearly labeled and safety data sheets provided to exposed workers. Construction companies or individuals in charge of the project must also train workers to handle various hazardous chemicals found at the site.
Lack of hazard communication is among the top reasons for many workplace-related lawsuits. Many workers in the United States live with the devastating effects of exposure to dangerous chemicals at work. Yet, even though construction companies and manufacturers of these products have the duty to warn and inform workers about such hazards, some choose to remain silent.
As a result, individuals exposed to certain dangerous chemicals or materials may suffer long-term illnesses and diseases such as asbestosis, brain damage, or even cancer.
Scaffolding-related accidents are quite common at construction sites all over the country. While some victims of scaffolding violations survive with mild or severe injuries, some end up losing their lives. For example, in Brooklyn, a 32-year-old accountant suffered permanent brain damage due to a scaffolding accident allegedly caused by Werize, a construction company.
And that's not the only scaffolding violation incident in the recent past. According to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, scaffolding incidents resulted in 61 deaths in 2018 alone. The data also shows that more than 4,500 people suffered various injuries caused by this construction site violation.
To avoid such accidents, OSHA has specific standards that must be strictly adhered to at any construction site.
Lack of Respiratory Protection
Workers at construction sites are required to wear respirators, especially when working in environments with:
- Insufficient oxygen
- Harmful dusters
Respirators generally work in two ways: some filter external air to eliminate harmful airborne particles. Others derive clean air from an external source and feed it to the user.
Lack of respiratory protection often leads to respiratory diseases, most of which are severe. For example, lung cancer can be caused by prolonged exposure to certain harmful particles in the air. Such parties damage the lung slowly, making it difficult for the victim to breathe. This leads to a slow and painful death.
A lung transplant surgery may be necessary in some cases, but it's usually too expensive. Besides, even after the surgery, most people are never the same and may still need long-term care and supervision.
Some machines used at construction sites can cause severe injuries or death if not guarded properly. For this reason, OSHA provides certain standards that must be met at construction sites using various kinds of machines. Examples of these machines include:
- hand tools;
- power-operated hand tools;
- abrasive wheels and tools;
- woodworking tools;
- jacks-lever and ratchet, hydraulics, and screws;
- air receivers; and
- mechanical power-transmission devices.
Construction site accidents involving machines are often severe. Examples of such risks include amputation, permanent disfigurement, burns, crushed body parts, blindness, or even death.