The construction industry employs millions of people on job sites across the United States. While the fatal injury rate is high for this industry, you can understand construction site dangers and steps that protect yourself, co-workers and pedestrians.
Most of the construction site fatalities occur from falls. Unstable work surfaces and failure to use protective equipment contribute to this construction site danger.
The right equipment can prevent falls.
- Use guardrails, safety nets, restraint systems and fall arrest systems.
- Stand on an elevated platform or aerial lift.
- Secure all scaffolding.
- Inspect lifts regularly.
- Clean debris, liquid and dirt off all ladders, lifts or scaffolding.
- Observe maximum weight limits on ladders, lifts or scaffolding.
The majority of crane accidents happen when the boom or load line connects with an overhead power line. Other dangers include getting struck by the crane or caught in its swing radius.
The crane should always be inspected before use. Only a qualified, experienced operator should run it, taking care to lift the recommended weight and watch for overhead wires. Never stand under the load, either.
Random chemicals around the construction site can cause burns, fires, explosions and respiratory problems.
Secure all chemicals safely. Maintain a Material Safety Data Sheet on all chemicals, and ensure all employees know where the MSDS are stored and how to read them. Train employees on the risks and proper use of those chemicals, too. They should also use protective gear and know how to access and use the spill kit.
Injuries to your head and unprotected eyes, face, hands and feet can cause disability or death.
Wear protective gear at all times, including safety glasses, gloves and steel toed, non-slip shoes. Remember to wear a hard hat and watch out for falling or fixed objects. You should also use caution when operating power tools.
Operating the same tools over time or standing in one position all day can cause repetitive motion injuries and strains.
Take frequent breaks to protect yourself. Use proper posture or change positions frequently, too. You can also use less force as you do your job.
Any time you work around electrical tools or electricity, you’re in danger of electrocution.
Never bypass any device that protects you from electrical energy or climb near exposed wires. Always shut off the power before working on electrical circuits, too. Properly ground power tools, and inspect the cord for damage. If you use an extension cord, it should be certified for hard service.
Construction is a dangerous but important profession. Take these safety precautions as you prevent six construction site dangers.
After several hours of sitting at your work desk, it’s finally time for your break. The moment you stand up for your break, you realize that your legs are numb, stiff, or just won’t work. This is a common scenario experienced everyday by a variety of desk workers. Not that being devoted or working hard is a negative thing, but it can be detrimental to the body if smart work habits aren’t employed.
When workers become immersed in their work, it’s often hours before they even realize that they haven’t moved their lower extremities. This type of prolonged motionless work might seem like something that would increase productivity, but it can lead to an array of health problems, such as obesity and stress. The resulting problems actually make for a less productive employee.
Obviously, the first smart work habit is to get up and stretch the lower extremities and get blood flowing again. Ideally, workers should get up from their desk every hour for just a few minutes. This can be accomplished simply by walking to the water cooler, bathroom, copier, or such.
The computer is a key source of bad work ergonomics and negative impacts on the health of workers. Experts suggest that computer monitors be positioned directly in front of and arms-length away from workers. To minimize any eye strain from glares on a computer monitor, it should be tilted slightly downward. The worker can help minimize eye strain by blinking frequently to keep the eyes moist. It might be necessary to focus from a different angle, such as by slightly tilting the head upward.
Likewise, the computer keyboard should be placed directly in front of workers. It should be positioned at a comfortable distance. Try the computer at a sloped and flat position to see what feels more comfortable. It might also be helpful to rest and relax the palms when not typing.
Now that the computer and keyboard are positioned properly, workers should make sure that their own body is in good alignment. Make sure that the feet are flat on the floor and the back is supported. A lumbar support may be helpful to support the back. Stores that sell ergonomic office supplies will have work equipment, such as a chair with the lumbar support or a lumbar support insert, that’s been designed scientifically for comfort and ease of use.
Workers who take care of their body at work will feel better at work and at home. Even with the tiny amount of time lost to stretching and ensuring proper body mechanics and equipment positioning, this worker will also ultimately be more productive.
You face risks every day in real life and must decide if you’ll lock your house doors or buckle your seat belt. Your small business faces risks, too. Answer the question why use a risk management consultant as you successfully navigate your business risks.
Get Customized, Objective Advice
While all small businesses face risks, each business is different. A risk management consultant considers every aspect of your specific business from operations to technology without bias. They then create a customized, objective plan for your unique needs.
Identify Risks and Solutions
As a small business owner, you focus on producing widgets or baking cakes. You may not know all the risks you face. A risk management consultant will identify your risk and the solutions that address those risks.
Develop an Accurate Safety Plan
Safety must be one of your top priorities and is achieved when you follow an accurate safety plan. Your risk management consultant helps you develop a plan that fits your needs, and they will evaluate your plan regularly to ensure ongoing safety.
Your business must comply with a variety of federal, state and local policies or you could jeopardize your employees’ safety and face steep fines. Utilize your risk management consultant to ensure your company’s compliance.
Prepare for Inspections
Depending on your industry, you may undergo regular facility or quality control inspections. Be prepared to ace those inspections with assistance from your risk management consultant.
Your small business may have a successful history, but you must plan for a successful future, too. Hire a risk management consultant to ensure your business continues on a course toward future success.
The business world frequently changes, and you must change with it. Rely on your risk management consultant to stay updated about changes in consumer trends and technology. With their help, you stay current, trendy and successful.
Maximize Your Time
As a small business owner, you are responsible for every aspect of your company. You only have 24 hours in a day, though. A risk management consultant takes on this responsibility and frees you for other tasks.
Receive Ongoing Support
A risk management consultant helps you identify, handle and address risks now. However, this relationship also provides ongoing support as you continue to maintain compliance.
Why use a risk management consultant? Your small business gains nine key benefits that help you achieve success now and into the future.
Before visiting a business, 90 percent of consumers read online reviews. Your company needs online reviews, but your business could suffer if you encourage or allow fake reviews to populate the internet. Understand the dangers of fake reviews as you build and protect your company.
What are Fake Reviews?
As a business owner, you may solicit or allow fake reviews as a way to bolster your online reputation and attract more customers.
Four common types of fake reviews include:
- Ask family members and friends to share reviews of your company. While your family and friends may be loyal customers, their reviews could be skewed and not provide an accurate picture of your company.
- Pay employees to write reviews. These reviews could appear to be objective but are dishonest.
- Offer your product or service for free in exchange for a written review. While you may boost production volume and customers with this technique, it invites positive rather than honest reviews.
- Encourage reviews on open rather than verified review sites. Numerous review sites allow anyone to leave a review even if they haven’t tried your services or products, a practice that encourages fake reviews.
Dangers of Fake Reviews
Your company faces several dangers because of fake reviews.
Fines – Expect repercussions from the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) and your state if you violate consumer protection laws that include false advertising.
Damaged Reputation – Online review sites can report fake reviews to consumer alert groups and post this information on your profile. As a result, your company will gain a negative reputation that is nearly impossible to overturn.
Broken Trust – If consumers discover that you’ve encouraged or allowed fake reviews, they will stop trusting your company. You lose credibility and valuable business that affects your company now and into the future.
Lack of Growth – An influx of reviews can improve business temporarily, but your business will suffer if your products or services don’t match the fake reviews.
Public Danger – Fake reviews of physicians, attorneys, accountants or auto repair shops could potentially harm consumers. Other dangers caused by undisclosed allergic reactions or unsafe products can also harm consumers, highlighting the need for only honest reviews.
How to Prevent Fake Reviews
In your quest to attract business and build your brand, you may ask all your customers to leave honest reviews on verified sites. Continue to offer excellent service, too, that prompts customers to praise your company online.
Overall, your company will benefit more from no reviews than from fake ones. Understand the dangers of fake reviews and how to combat them as you retain your credibility, build your reputation and protect your company.
Established in 1990, the Americans With Disabilities Act (ADA) protects disabled Americans from discrimination. The term “disabled” applies to anyone with a physical or mental impairment that significantly limits or restricts a daily life activity, and ADA laws apply in the workplace and nearly any public space. Learn more about how your small business can comply with ADA laws, protect your employees and customers, and avoid expensive and time-consuming lawsuits.
Challenges of ADA Compliance for Small Businesses
While beneficial, ADA laws change frequently. Your small business may not have the time or resources to remain updated and complaint. However, if you don’t maintain ADA compliance at all times, you could face numerous fines and lawsuits. Additionally, you lose valuable employees and customers and damage your professional reputation.
Ways to Become ADA Compliant
Your small business can become ADA compliant when you take several steps.
Assess your specific risks.
Certain structures built before early 1993 may be exempt from strict guidelines that apply to structures built after early 1993, but you will need to perform an ADA assessment no matter when your building was constructed. Your property and business could face specific risks such as non-compliant entryways, incorrect bathroom signs or shelves that are hung too high. A certified ADA specialist will assess your property based on applicable current laws. You may also hire an architect with experience in equal-access requirements to perform the assessment and suggest necessary changes.
Correct non-compliant areas.
After you have identified your specific risks, correct them. Hire an architect, contractor or other professional to make the necessary changes and secure your ADA compliance. Remember that your small business may be eligible for numerous annual tax credits and deductions that offset a portion of your renovation costs.
Beware of drive-by lawsuits.
Certain enterprising individuals may drive by your property, note ADA violations then file a lawsuit. You could then be liable for legal fees and repairs. Unfortunately, you cannot prevent drive-by lawsuits, but you can purchase adequate insurance to cover some of your losses and give you peace of mind.
Purchase adequate business insurance.
A commercial general liability policy doesn’t prevent an ADA-related lawsuit, but it does provide invaluable financial resources if you are sued. Consider purchasing errors and omissions insurance, an employment practices liability policy and umbrella coverage, too, as you protect your small business. Your insurance agent can offer additional advice on the invaluable coverage you need.
Your small business can and must become ADA compliant or you will face expensive and time-consuming lawsuits. Use these tips to secure compliance and protect your employees, customers and company. For more information, contact the Department of Justice’s ADA Information Line at 800- 514-0301.
This spring, add fleet maintenance to your list of chores. The right maintenance prepares your business vehicles to operate safely during the busy spring and summer months. Plus, these tips remove remnants of winter weather and prolong the life of your valuable fleet.
Properly functioning brakes allow your vehicle to stop when necessary. Verify that the pads and rotors remain in good shape or replace them if necessary. Clean any winter salt and residue from the anti-lock braking system also.
Fluids equip a vehicle’s motor to operate properly. Change the oil, flush the transmission fluid and refill the window washer fluid to protect your fleet.
Check the Belts and Hoses
Broken, cracked, softened, peeling or worn belts and hoses affect a vehicle’s performance. Now that spring is here, check all the belts and hoses under the hood and replace any that show signs of wear.
Adjust the Alignment and Suspension
Potholes and winter debris affect a vehicle’s alignment and suspension, causing it to pull to one side or vibrate. Reduce your accident risk and ensure your vehicles operate properly when you correct any alignment or suspension problems.
Rotate and Fill Tires
Because the tires enhance traction, handling and safety, rotate and fill them to the proper pressure. Verify that the tread on each tire is adequate, too.
Charge the Battery
After working hard all winter, the battery may be drained. Charge it or replace the battery if you notice that the electrical components of your vehicle operate slower than normal.
Test the Air Conditioner
A properly functioning air conditioner keeps your employees comfortable into the summer. Turn it on and ensure it reaches full blast within a short time. Recharge or repair the air conditioner if it doesn’t get cold.
Whether your employees drive company cars to make deliveries or meet with clients, stock adequate supplies. The fleet vehicles should have a first aid kit, updated registration and insurance information, and any items essential for work.
Perform a Complete Detail
Salt melts snow and ice on winter roads, but it also causes rust on a vehicle’s undercarriage. Wash your fleet vehicles carefully to remove any salt and other winter residue. Remove dirt and debris from the inside of your vehicles, too, to improve safety and visibility.
Schedule the Annual Inspection
Double check when the annual inspections are due for each vehicle, and plan those inspections.
Reduce the risk of vehicle accidents when you maintain your business fleet this spring. For additional tips, talk to your commercial auto insurance agent.
Now that tax season has arrived, your business must address several common risks. Protect your company now and into the future when you take several steps.
The W-2 forms you supply to employees contain personal information a thief can use to steal an employee’s identity. Safeguard all the W-2s you provide by handing these forms directly to each employee or letting your team know when to expect the forms in the mail.
Additionally, counsel payroll personnel to protect W-2 details. Thieves may contact the payroll department and ask for a list of employees and their W-2 information. If someone in your company releases this information, you could be liable.
If you do discover that someone has tried to scam your business and fraudulently gain W-2 information, contact the IRS immediately.
Verify IRS Requests
Thieves may send you an email with an official-looking IRS seal. The email may promise a refund or require additional personal information and include an attachment you must open and complete. Typically, these emails and their attachments comprise a phishing scam that’s designed to deliver harmful software, malware or spam to your electronic devices.
In the stress of tax season, you or one of your employees may open these emails, but remember that the IRS will not communicate with you via an email. Feel free to contact the IRS and verify the legitimacy of any communication.
Discuss the Security of Your Accountant’s Records
Despite your best security efforts, your accountant may not employ protective measures. Discuss the steps your accountant takes to secure your information, including the data you share via email and the tax returns and information they submit electronically to the IRS on your behalf.
File Taxes on Time
Your business faces penalties and fines if you file your tax return late. File for an extension if you need additional time to compile your data and file your taxes.
Report all Income
Forget to report income, and you could face a 20 percent fine. Intentional underreporting of income could land you a fine of up to 75 percent of the total tax owed. Proper recordkeeping prevents this mistake and saves you money in the long run.
Take the Correct Deductions
Your business is eligible for numerous business deductions, including commercial insurance premiums, office supplies and travel. However, ensure the accuracy of your deductions. Auto, home office and entertainment deductions can trigger an audit, so double check that you only take legitimate deductions for ordinary and necessary business expenses.
This year, you can avoid several small business tax season risks. Follow these tips and talk to your accountant as you meet your tax obligations and protect your company.
Forgetting one hurricane tie before drywalling probably isn’t going to see a house going up in a tornado like in The Wizard of Oz. Some mistakes aren’t that big a deal. Others… well, here are some of the biggest mistakes ever made in construction, engineering and architecture:
The Aon Center
The Aon Center, completed in 1973, was known for its beautiful exterior made of Italian Carrara marble. A fetching addition to the Chicago skyline, it turns out that there’s a reason they don’t use Carrara marble on most buildings. It’s a very thin material. Just one year after the building was completed, pieces started to crack and fall off, one of them smashing through the roof of the nearby Prudential Center. Replacing the exterior with granite cost over $80 million. There’s something to be said for using the right materials the first time.
NASA and Lockheed Martin’s Mars Orbiter
Long story short: in 1999, Lockheed Martin used the English system of measurement on a project with NASA, while NASA used the metric system. The Mars orbiter was then unable to transfer its coordinates to the lab in California. Now there’s a $125 million chunk of useless metal floating around the galaxy. You might not be building a satellite any time soon, but it’s important to get on the same page with your crew and your client when it comes to how many inches are in a meter.
Vdara Hotel & Car Dashboard
The Vdara Hotel & Spa is a classic example of a designer putting form before function. All those reflective surfaces on the windows surrounding the pool looked absolutely stunning, but at mid-day, they created a sort of magnifying-lens-on-an-ant effect, scorching people in the swimming pool and turning the whole area into a car dashboard on a Summer afternoon. One man even claims to have had some hair singed right off his head while going for a swim.
Piper Bravo Oil Rig
The smallest mistakes can have major complications. The Piper Bravo Oil Rig exploded, killing 167 people, simply because safety inspectors forgot to replace a single safety valve after a routine check of the rig. The repairs cost more than $3 billion in 1994 USD. This is something worth thinking about the next time a worker decides that he doesn’t need to wear his goggles if he’s only going to be using the table saw for a couple minutes.
Employees who work in construction, carpentry, manufacturing, auto repair, welding and maintenance are most likely to experience eye injuries. However, almost every work environment contains eye hazards, and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports that 2,000 people suffer from workplace eye injuries every day. As many as 400 of those accidents causes vision loss. The correct eye protection can prevent up to 90 percent of these accidents.
Common Causes of Workplace Eye Injuries
The most common causes of eye injuries include:
- Chemicals and cleaning products
- Flying metal, glass, pencils, nails, staples, wood slivers and other objects
- Harmful radiation
How do Eye Injuries Happen?
Eye injuries typically occur in three ways.
- Penetration occurs when a sharp object enters the eye and causes trauma.
- Burns damage the tissue in and around the eye. They are caused by chemicals or cleaning products and include thermal burns from welding.
- Striking or scraping involves small particles or objects and is the most common workplace eye injury. The offending material can affect the eye, eyeball or socket.
Ways to Prevent Eye Injuries
You and your employees can take several steps to protect sensitive eyes.
- Perform an eye hazard assessment. Walk around your business and identify any workstations, objects or other potential hazards.
- Eliminate as many hazards as possible. Work with your safety manager or insurance company to identify and remove the hazards you find.
- Install safety measures. Consider installing screens, machine guarding or engineering controls as well as other necessary safety precautions.
- Teach eye safety to your employees. Your team members should understand the potential dangers they may face on the job and the protective measures they should take.
- Provide proper eye safety gear. The gear you provide depends on your specific workplace hazards and on your employees’ personal preferences and needs. Examples include prescription and non-prescription safety glasses, side shields, goggles, face shields, helmets and full-face respirators. Be sure the safety lenses follow OSHA requirements, are comfortable and allow peripheral vision.
- Train team members on how to handle an eye injury emergency. Everyone should know where the eye wash station is located and how to use it.
- Continue to take eye safety seriously. Perform regular hazard assessments, update safety equipment and provide ongoing eye safety training.
- Update your Workers’ Compensation insurance. While you do your best to ensure workplace safety, accidents can happen. Your Workers’ Compensation insurance will pay for medical treatment and other related expenses if an employee suffers an eye injury on the job.
Workplace eye safety is important. Use these top safety tips to prevent as many eye injuries as possible.