The 4 Most Common Construction Accidents—And How to Prevent Them

4 Most Common Construction Accidents

Did you know that 38% of construction workers believe that a serious accident is “inevitable” on their site? 

That’s more than a third of all workers.

While a further 40% say they sometimes feel unsafe at work. 

With the fatal injury rate in the construction industry sitting at around four times higher than the all-industry average, are you currently doing enough to protect your workers and ensure your site is as safe as possible for them?

Here are the four most common fatal accidents in the construction industry according to HSE—and how to prevent them. 


1. Falling from a Height

Falling from a height accounts for 51% of fatal accidents and 19% of non-fatal injuries per year, according to research by HSE. 

This can include falling from:

  • Ladders
  • Openings
  • Edges
  • Roofs
  • Tower scaffolds
  • Large machinery
  • Mobile elevating work platforms (MEWPs)
  • And more

How to prevent this

The Work at Height Regulations 2005 require employers and those controlling work-at-height activity to ensure work is planned, supervised and carried out by trained, fully competent individuals. 

It also mandates that they carry out full risk assessments before carrying out work and provide the right type of safety equipment (for example, ropes, boatswain’s chairs, safety harnesses and nets). 

If these aren’t already in place, we’d also recommend implementing safe working platforms with guardrails and barriers to prevent people from being able to fall over the edge.

Lastly, one of the best ways to prevent falls from height is to avoid working at height in the first place. So, it’s worth strongly considering whether work absolutely needs to be done at height, or if you can instead complete some tasks using extendable tools from the ground level, for example.


2. Trapped by Something Collapsing or Overturning

Being trapped by something collapsing or overturning accounts for 14% of fatal accidents per year. This includes a wide range of scenarios—including cranes, forklift trucks, contact dumpers and other types of vehicles overturning or collapsing if they aren’t placed or operated correctly and scaffolding collapsing if it isn’t stable. 

How to prevent this

First, we recommend carrying out thorough risk assessments across your site to identify potential overturn or collapse. 

If any risks are identified, you should place clear signage to notify workers of the hazard and restrict access to only fully-trained and competent personnel that have been briefed on how to navigate the hazard safely. A great way to restrict access and notify personnel that they’re about to enter a hazardous zone is with the use of virtual safety exclusion zones.

To avoid the risk of heavy machinery overturning, ensure all drivers are fully trained to follow safety procedures and spot potential hazards and that vehicles are regularly maintained and in great working condition. 

It’s also essential only to drive vehicles on stable surfaces (avoiding steep slopes, uneven surfaces and sharp turns), to put in place gradient limits and ensure loads are evenly distributed to avoid overturning. 


3. Struck by a Moving Object

Being struck by a moving object accounts for 10% of fatal accidents and 12% of non-fatal injuries every year, according to HSE. 

Being struck by a moving object can include:

  • Being hit by a falling object (something falling from a storage rack or upper platform)
  • Sustaining cuts and injuries from hand tools (saws, hand grinders and more)
  • Colliding with pedestrian-operated moving objects (such as trolleys and pallet trucks)

How to prevent this

We recommend starting with a thorough risk assessment across your site to determine which areas or specific objects are most likely to cause an accident. 

If you identify areas where the risk of being struck by moving or falling objects is high, we’d recommend restricting access to only essential and fully-trained personnel (once again, implementing virtual safety exclusion zones is a great way to do that). 

It’s also important to fully train personnel on the required safety procedures (including guidance on storing and securing items above ground level, using hand tools properly and using pedestrian-operated moving objects). 

Lastly, ensure personnel have the appropriate safety equipment to protect them in the event that they are struck. These include hard gats, safety goggles and face shields. 

Notify your workers in real-time if they’re entering an exclusion zone or getting too close to a hazard. Learn more about Zonr here. 

4. Struck by a Moving Vehicle

Being struck by a moving vehicle accounts for 9% of fatal accidents annually. While 9% might not sound like much, that translates to seven workers dying each year from being hit by vehicles on site—with a further 93 workers sustaining serious injuries. 

Types of vehicles include: 

  • Cars
  • Vans
  • Lorries
  • Low-loaders
  • Mobile plants such as excavators, lift trucks, site dumpers and more

How to prevent this

Implementing a traffic management system that keeps pedestrians and vehicles apart is essential for preventing personnel from being struck by moving vehicles. In fact, the law says you must ensure that vehicles and pedestrians can move around safely using site routes.

Start by creating safe routes and walkways for pedestrian workers that keep them out of the way of moving vehicles. This includes providing separate entrances and exits and any crossings where necessary. 

As part of this, you’ll want to use adequate signage and road markings and ensure every employee is fully trained and aware of routes and traffic rules. 

Finally, virtual safety exclusion zones are a great way to keep pedestrians and vehicles apart. The best solutions will not only notify pedestrians when they’re about to come into contact with a moving vehicle but also notify the vehicle operator when a pedestrian is about to step into their path. 


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