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How Can I Avoid Common Construction Accidents?

On behalf of Mitchell Law Corporation
September 9, 2021

The construction industry requires both hard physical and mental labor. It is not uncommon for serious mistakes and accidents to happen on construction sites to employees. Whether injury takes place because of malfunctioning equipment or negligent supervision, there are many preventative steps beforehand that can be taken to protect those in the workforce.

Acquiring Appropriate Licensing

In construction work, the use of heavy equipment and tools is a daily requirement. Driving large trailers, operating cranes, or working on high scaffolding, construction presents many opportunities to work with dangerous machinery. Upon being hired in the heavy construction industry, there are several prerequisites to operating these powerful tools. Without the appropriate licensing and education, there can be serious results. Although the industry can be a financially reliable source of income, knowing the risks and, more importantly, having the proper mechanical education and licensing is essential for your safety and the safety of others.

Why Is Mechanical Licensing Important?

If no one was required to receive mechanical licensing, anyone would be able to operate heavy machinery. Tools like cranes, excavators, and bulldozers all require extensive knowledge on how to safely utilize them. Most tenured construction workers spend years honing their craft working with these massive pieces of mechanical gear, and accidents still happen. If anyone was able to do it, serious repercussions would occur. It is extremely common for these tools to flip, rollover, burn up and in some cases even crush the operator. The education prior to operating these machines is not only essential, but most major companies require certain licensing to even be hired. Some of these licenses include:

  • CDL (Commercial Driver’s License) - This certification is required to drive any kind of commercial motor vehicle. Company trucks, trailers carrying heavy machinery, a truck with a tank, a truck carrying hazardous materials, or even a passenger vehicle all require a CDL certification. You cannot operate any kind of company vehicle or large truck with a trailer hitch without one. You must pass both skills and knowledge testing in order to receive your certification. Those who have a CDL are held to a higher standard when operating any kind of motor vehicle.
  • NCCCO (National Commission for the Certification of Crane Operators) - Operating a crane is not something everyone can do. This certification takes up to 4-8 weeks and goes through the process of competency testing and on-the-job training. For different kinds of cranes, the training can last up to several months. It is required that you must pass both a written exam and skill test in order the receive a certification.
  • HEO (Heavy Equipment Operator) - Obtaining your heavy equipment operator license is different in every state, but for most, a level of education is required. You must have your GED (General Educational Development Degree) and a certification from a trade school. These programs train individuals on a wide variety of different mechanical labor such as construction site preparation, landscaping, utility, and underground excavation. Receiving this certification makes you eligible for many different job opportunities such as trenching, road construction, airport construction, and commercial and residential construction.

Without the proper licensing, serious or fatal accidents can happen. If your employers make a request for you to utilize or operate heavy machinery without having the proper certifications, there is probable cause for legal action. Frequently in construction, employers have their staff operate machinery that they have no business operating. Not only is this highly illegal, but it is unwise for the employer as it can result in serious neck injury.

If the employee in any way is harmed while using machinery that they do not have the certification and education to operate, the employee is eligible to sue for damages. Not only that, but the employer risks also losing their license to rent or own heavy machinery at all. If your employer requests that you man a piece of machinery you are not eligible to use, speak up.

Reporting Un-Safe Work Environments

The first step to reducing any common work-related injury is ensuring the work environment is safe. This could mean appropriate protective gear such as a hard helmet, goggles, steel-toed boots, and earplugs. If you are working on scaffolding, it is essential that you have fall gear like harnesses and nets. These protective elements can literally mean life or death in environments where there are many precarious scenarios. Many companies will provide the protective gear to their employees, but in the case they do not, obtaining them yourself will be necessary.

A team is nothing without a team leader. Many construction crews will have a head supervisor. This individuals’ responsibilities include but are not limited to:

  • Monitoring crew performance
  • Delivering quality and adhering to strict guidelines
  • Ensuring equipment is functioning properly
  • Staying up to date on safety codes

A supervisor is there to make sure everything is running as it should. If a supervisor is not properly showing employees how to use dangerous hand tools, serious or fatal injuries can happen. Tools like a welding machine can be treacherous if the operator is not first shown how to use them safely. Without first educating construction workers on how to utilize even simple machinery, accidents can easily happen. Certain weather conditions are not conducive to construction work and thus can cause slipping and falling from tall heights. Not regularly checking the heat gauges on heavy machines can result in deadly fire explosions and gas leaks. Without proper supervision, employees can easily get injured on the job. This is why reporting supervisor misconduct and negligence is necessary.

In any job environment, there is risk for injury. However, in the construction industry, the risks are generally more severe. What might seem like an easy piece of equipment to run could mean the difference in protecting the safety of oneself and others. Addressing hazardous work conditions like heavy rain or not having the proper protective gear can mean life or death in this industry. That is why taking the extra time to ensure the safety of employees should be an absolute priority.

If you have been a victim of a workplace injury at the fault of your employer, seek out legal counsel. Whether you have been injured on the job because of negligible management or have been harmed from a workplace accident, research your legal options. At Mitchell Law Corporation,we aggressively pursue your civil liberties and protect your ability to receive financial compensation for workplace injuries.

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