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Does your employer prioritize employee safety or the bottom line?

Do you risk your life on a construction site each day? The Occupational Safety and Health Administration says thousands of preventable construction site accidents occur on construction sites nationwide each year, including Illinois. Unfortunately, employers who focus more on profits than on worker safety prefer to allow, and even encourage, construction workers to take shortcuts to meet deadlines. Disregarding safety standards to save money is also prevalent in the construction industry.

Did you know that you can refuse to work in conditions that lack the necessary safety precautions? For this reason, it might be a good idea for you to gain knowledge about the OSHA prescribed safety standards. It will allow you to take charge of your safety while your boss’ eye is on the bottom line. Even just looking out for the four most frequently cited OSHA violations might keep you out of the hospital.

Scaffolding

Look out for the following common violations that might save your boss money, or shortcuts to speed up the process:

  • Check that the scaffold structure is on a stable surface or secured to a building to prevent it from tipping.
  • Never use the scaffold as a ladder to climb up or down the structure.
  • Make sure that strong planking covers the entire platform, and keep in mind that it should be strong enough to support four times the weight of all the workers, building materials and equipment on it.
  • Do not work on a scaffold without guardrails, toeboards, and debris nets or catch platforms to prevent falls and dropped objects that could injure workers at lower levels.

Fall protection

Make sure you have the necessary fall protection and training in the proper use of fall arrest systems. Here’s what can keep you safe:

  • All elevated workplaces must have safeguards to prevent falls, including openings in floors, roofs or walls.
  • Ensure all surfaces are dry and free of debris to prevent slips, trips and falls.
  • Fall protection is not optional. Working at any height justifies the use of fall arrest systems and secure anchors.
  • Always check fall arrest systems for wear and tear or damage before using it.

Ladders

Keep the following in mind whenever you use a ladder:

  • Check the condition of the ladder and do not use it if there are missing parts or damage to it.
  • Do not use the ladder as a work platform instead of a scaffold or other work structure.
  • Use the appropriate ladder for each job, and check its weight limits and height.
  • Never carry building material or equipment while climbing up or down a ladder.
  • Make sure you stay a safe distance away from electrical wires if you use a metal ladder.

Forklifts and other powered industrial trucks

Here are the best practices as prescribed by OSHA:

  • Never drive a forklift or another powered industrial truck if you have not obtained the necessary certification for the machine.
  • Do a thorough inspection at the start of each shift, and remove the machine from service if any defects or malfunctions are present.
  • Always wear the necessary personal protective equipment and fasten the seat belt.

Being alert and cautious might not be enough to keep you safe on all construction sites. If you have to deal with the consequences of a work-related accident, dealing with a workers’ compensation benefits claim could prove challenging. Fortunately, an attorney who has experience in dealing with the Illinois workers’ compensation system can provide valuable support and guidance in pursuit of maximum applicable benefits.