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Tips for construction site safety

May 2, 2016

An increased focus on construction site safety help reduce job site injuries and increase workforce productivity.

E Lambert

National Customer Solutions Director, North America Commercial Insurance

Eric Lambert is National Customer Solutions Director for Zurich’s North America Commercial Insurance... About this expert


One in five worker deaths in 2017 was in construction. Every day, construction workers are exposed to on-the-job hazards. That is why it is so important for companies in the industry to focus on construction site safety.

What are the most common safety hazards in construction?

Hazards are so prevalent within the industry that the Occupational Safety & Health Administration (OSHA) has identified construction’s “Fatal Four” — falls, electrocutions, being struck by an object and getting caught in or between an object — as the leading causes of death among construction workers. In fact, 58.1 percent of construction worker deaths can be attributed to the “Fatal Four.” Eliminating the fatal four would have 582 workers' lives in America every year.

While these statistics are troubling, there has been significant improvement in safety throughout the construction industry. Over the last four decades, construction professionals have been working to identify hazards and reduce construction site risks. A recent OSHA report indicated that workplace fatalities, including construction job sites, have been reduced by more than 63 percent.

Construction site safety programs to help make the job site safer 

Onboarding and continuous training programs 

  • Establishing an orientation program, setting up a buddy/mentoring program and ensuring that workers and supervisors receive ongoing training.

Pre-task plans

  • Whether you call it a Job Hazard Analysis (JHA) or Job Safety Analysis (JSA), making sure you have a program assessing all new operations in the field, that the hazards are reviewed with the crew and controls are put in place to eliminate or reduce those hazards.

Equipment training

  • Focusing on the proper use of tools and safety equipment, stressing the need to use caution whether operating heavy-duty machinery, small power tools or other equipment.

Slip, trip and fall safety

  • Identifying fall hazards from elevation or the same level on the job site, as well as training on fall prevention prior to fall arrest. If the use of fall arrest equipment is necessary, ensure training is in place to limit on-the job-injuries.

Substance abuse management

  • Educating your employees on the hazards of substance abuse, implementing testing programs and providing affected employees access to substance abuse prevention programs.

Soft tissue injury prevention assessments

  • Reviewing work sites and job tasks to determine if risks are present for injuries and productivity losses; recommending improvements to work flow that can help reduce stress on the body.

On-site stretching

  • Reducing strains and sprains by employing programs that help employees attain a higher degree of flexibility.

When should you implement a construction site safety program?

The implementation of construction site safety begins long before the first spade of dirt is turned over at a work site. Developing safety protocols requires the commitment of contractors, workers and owners working together in the pre-planning phase of a project to identify risk exposures and safety issues. Working with your insurer’s Risk Management and Absence, Health and Productivity Services teams can also help identify industry trends in your loss experience and recommend safety programs to help limit job site injuries.

Safety is an investment that pays off big. Focusing on job site safety not only benefits your bottom line in the form of improved productivity and return on investment, it can also improve project quality and positively impact your company’s reputation.