A brief examination of readily available statistics from the Occupational Safety and Health Administration reveals that fatal construction accidents continue to be a major issue here in the United States. To illustrate, the agency determined that 775 people lost their lives in construction accidents in 2012 alone.
While the circumstances behind every fatal construction accident naturally vary, OSHA has at least been able to identify four of the more common causes of these tragedies. These include falls, electrocution, caught-in/between accidents and struck-by accidents.
Interestingly, safety experts are indicating that some of the accident causes -- particularly struck-by accidents -- could likely be largely eliminated if those managing construction jobsites took a brighter approach to safety.
These safety experts indicate that the inherently dangerous nature of construction jobsites, which are constantly filled with heavy equipment, dangerous machinery and large numbers of people, become all the more dangerous when the element of darkness is introduced. Here, the low light can serve to prevent workers from seeing the hazards around them and make them less visible to those who could inadvertently cause them harm.
While there are certain measures like reflective tape and/or area lighting that could help prevent accidents and fatalities caused by inadequate lighting on construction jobsites, experts indicate that they are not without their limitations.
Firstly, they argue that reflective tape must have an exterior light source in order to provide any sort of protection to workers and that it has not undergone any type of major revision since the 70s. Secondly, they argue that area lighting can sometimes be so strong that it essentially washes out both people and objects, creates trip hazards thanks to power lines running to generators, and casts shadows that make it difficult for workers to see much of anything.
What's the answer then?
According to these experts, construction jobsite managers should strongly consider investing in so-called active safety systems utilizing everything from LEDs for workers and enhanced battery technology to software that is designed to help create smarter and safer worksites.
They argue that these active safety systems are now far easier to access and far less costly to implement. Even more important, they argue that they allow the worker to see and be seen in most circumstances.
It's important for all workers injured in construction accidents -- whether from falls, equipment mishaps, falling objects, etc., -- to consider speaking with an experienced and dedicated legal professional. Together, you can discuss your options for securing workers' compensation benefits and your plans for the future.
Source: EHS Today, "Personal safety: Illumination in the 21st Century," Max Baker, Feb. 11, 2014