The residential construction industry has picked back up. If you work in the industry you already know that it’s still not at “boom” levels but there are tens of thousands of people working, and subsequently at risk, in the our local home-building industry.
A disproportional high number of people are killed and injured in the residential construction industry. The Bureau of Labor Statistic (BLS) has stated that almost a quarter of on-the-job fatalities in construction occur in residential work. Four hazards – falls, electrical hazards, contact with objects, and struck by impacts – cause 93 percent of these fatalities, and a variety of other hazards contribute to home building’s many serious injuries.
Lack of Accountability
Despite all the dangers posed by residential construction tasks, the perception in the residential construction industry is that safety doesn’t matter because the projects are often small-scale. This is particularly unfortunate because home building is a gateway to construction work, so many of the workers are inexperienced with construction hazards. Further, because the sector is largely staffed by immigrant labor formal skill and safety training is rare, and inadequate on-the-job training is the norm. As a result, safety is almost never communicated to the employees on site.
Falls and Scaffolds
Falls are the most common among framing and roofing workers who think for some reason that there are different fall protection requirements in residential construction than there is in commercial construction. This perception is completely wrong from both a hazard perspective and from a compliance perspective. After all, a 6 foot fall is a 6 foot fall no matter what type of building you fall from. In late 2010 OSHA discontinued some of their interim policies regarding fall protection in residential construction so that now the fall protection requirements are the same for all types of construction. For more information visit the OSHA residential construction page. http://www.osha.gov/doc/topics/residentialprotection/index.html
Another issue of increasing concern is the use of nail guns. Serious wounds and even deaths have resulted from the use of nail guns. Nail guns are designed with a safety feature which requires two actions to fire including contact with a surface and a separate trigger squeeze. The problem is that people often disable the critical safety feature so that the gun will fire with only the trigger squeeze. This is an extremely dangerous idea!
If you work in the residential construction industry and would like to learn about the simple things you can do to improve the safety on your site please contact Randy Free. 407-353-8165 or email him at rfree(at)safetylinks.net
Also click on the links below for more information on our residential specific courses including “Safety Basics” http://www.safetylinks.net/index.php/training/construction-safety-courses/safety-basics and “Residential Fall Protection” http://www.safetylinks.net/index.php/training/construction-safety-courses/residential-fall-protection-user-level