Safety inspections are especially crucial in the construction industry because construction sites are inherently hazardous. On December 19, 2023, the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) released its annual report on occupational injuries for 2022. The report reveals there were 1,069 construction fatalities in 2022, a 7.7% increase from 986 construction fatalities in 2021. The leading causes of construction industry fatalities are falls (38%), struck by object or equipment (8%), electrocutions (6%), and struck, caught, or crushed in collapsing structure, equipment, or material (5%). OSHA considers these hazards to be the “construction focus four hazards.”
Additional trends from the report identify that:
- The fatal work injury rate was 3.7 fatalities per 100,000 full-time equivalent (FTE) workers, up from 3.6 per 100,000 FTE in 2021, and the 2019 pre-pandemic rate of 3.5
- A worker died every 96 minutes from a work-related injury in 2022
- Workers in transportation and material-moving occupations experienced 1,620 fatal work injuries in 2022, a 6.4% increase from 2021
- These workers represent the occupational group with the highest number of fatalities
- Transportation (including delivery, offloading, and road work) incidents remained the most frequent type of fatal event in 2022, with 2,066 fatal injuries, an increase of 4.2% from 2021
- This major category accounted for 37.7% of all work-related fatalities in 2022
- Suicides rose to 267 fatalities in 2022 – a 13.1% increase after two consecutive years of declines
Below are eight reasons why safety inspections are so important within the construction sector:
Protection of Construction Workers
Site and equipment safety inspections are a critical component of safeguarding the well-being of construction workers. Identifying and addressing safety hazards on construction sites contributes to a safer working environment and reduces the incidence of injuries. With that in mind, one should conduct a visual safety inspection repeatedly throughout the day and document per jurisdictional and manufacturing requirements, be they daily, weekly, or monthly.
Promoting a Culture of Safety
Regular safety inspections contribute to the development of a safety-conscious culture within construction companies. When safety is prioritized, workers are more likely to follow protocols and actively participate in creating a secure work environment.
Enhancing Contractor and Client Relationships
Construction companies that prioritize safety inspections demonstrate a commitment to the well-being of their workers and the successful completion of projects. This commitment builds trust with contractors and clients, fostering positive relationships within the industry.
Risk Mitigation in Hazardous Environments
Construction sites often involve heavy machinery, complex processes, and elevated structures, presenting numerous potential hazards. Safety inspections help identify and mitigate these risks, reducing the likelihood of accidents and injuries.
Compliance with Occupational Safety Standards
The construction industry is subject to strict occupational safety regulations to protect workers. Regular safety inspections ensure compliance with these standards.
Minimizing Downtime and Project Delays
Accidents or equipment failures on construction sites can lead to project delays and increased downtime. Safety inspections help identify potential issues early on, allowing for preventive measures that minimize disruptions and keep construction projects on schedule.
Preservation of Expensive Equipment
Construction equipment is often costly, and any damage can result in significant financial losses. Safety inspections help detect issues with machinery and equipment, enabling timely maintenance to prolong their lifespan and prevent costly repairs.
Adherence to Building Codes
Safety inspections in construction ensure that projects comply with local building codes and regulations. This is crucial for obtaining necessary permits, approvals, and ensuring that structures meet safety standards.