Construction work is the number two cause of fatal injuries in workers under the age of 18. Additionally, more than 60 percent of serious accidents take place during the worker’s first year on the job. All told, new employees are three times more likely to get injured during the first month of work than those who have already been on the job for a year or longer.
Why are new employees at so much risk? There’s a number of possible reasons, and the likelihood is that more than one will factor in at any given time:
- New employees aren’t receiving appropriate safety training — it’s estimated only 20 percent get the training they need.
- Many of the skills required for the job are acquired through hands-on action, and new employees may be left unsupervised too soon.
- New employees are taking on hazardous tasks without realizing the dangers they’re facing.
- Even if a new employee does feel unsafe or realizes that there is a safety violation occurring, most feel too insecure about their position to speak up and address the problem. They don’t want to be seen as troublemakers.
- Seasonal workers may be given tasks that would be better left to employees with more experience.
- Seasonal employees may lack some of the camaraderie that regular employees have, leaving them less-inclined to ask for help or advice with tasks that are over their skill level.
The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has put together a number of initiatives designed to help young and temporary workers, since both may shift job duties often. OSHA recommends starting all new employees out on a “buddy system” or using mentoring programs to protect new workers. OSHA also recommends that all new workers receive safety orientation that is specific to the job that they’ll be doing — rather than generalized safety training about the job site.
Employers are expected to emphasize safety above all else — including profits and product deadlines. If you’re a construction worker who has been injured, an attorney can help you learn more about your right to compensation.
Source: Capterra Construction Management Blog, “13 Shocking Construction Injury Statistics,” Rachel Burger, accessed Aug. 15, 2017
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