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External threats to the construction worker

Anyone who works a construction site knows they're standing on dangerous ground. There are all kinds of tools, machines and heavy materials moving around -- any of which could damage a human body very badly upon impact.

However, construction workers often face external threats that are unrelated to the dangers on the job site itself.

What sort of dangers does the average construction worker face these days? Depending on the location and the nature of the site, you need to be wary of the following:

Traffic issues

Any construction site on or adjacent to a road puts workers at additional risk. Employers are supposed to take measures to protect their employees from traffic hazards, including:

  • The use of concrete barriers or weighted barrels
  • Extra vehicles to serve as a buffer
  • Reflective safety gear
  • Illuminated hardhats

Employers should also train employees carefully (particularly when employees are new) about night safety on a work site. A lot of avoidable accidents are due to simple inexperience.

Terrorist activity

It may be a sign of the times, but employers should be sensitive to the possibility of bombs or other incendiary devices on a work site. Work sites should be well-guarded and patrolled during off-times.

If the site is in any way accessible by the public, there should be a security protocol that's followed before every shift in order to look for suspicious packages -- particularly on sites that are attached to controversial subjects (like an unwanted mosque or some other building that's attracted negative press in the area).

Violent co-workers

Employers have a duty to their existing employees to weed out new-hires that have a history of violence. Any employer who doesn't could be guilty of negligent hiring. A simple background check can effectively identify most problem individuals before they are hired.

In addition, employers should enforce a no-violence policy among existing employees. If someone threatens a co-worker, it should be immediate grounds for dismissal.

Anyone injured on a construction site due to an employer's failure to take adequate precautions has a right to seek compensation for his or her injuries. In some cases, that right may even go beyond the bounds of workers' compensation.

Source: constructiondive.com, "The Dotted Line: How employers can protect construction workers from external threats," Kim Slowey, accessed June 14, 2018

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