Construction work sites are a buzz of activity. They also are rife with potential hazards. Many construction work site hazards are blamed in work-related accidents. The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health says that in 2007 construction accidents totalled 1,178, with 680 fatalities. Individuals working at construction sites must be aware of hazards that can cause injuries or other accidents.
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Chemical hazards may develop from dust, fumes, fibres and liquids. They can be emitted by welding, spraying paint and using solvents. There also are hazards found in materials such as asbestos, lead, silica, cadmium and carbon monoxide. At the construction site, workers might be exposed to chemicals by breathing them in, ingestion and absorption through the eyes or skin. Chemicals at work sites can cause headaches, eye irritation, dizziness, faintness, sleepiness and affect judgment and coordination.
Physical hazards in a construction zone include noise, vibration, extreme temperatures and radiation. Extended noise levels above 85 decibels can cause future hearing loss. Vibration harm typically occurs when workers use hand tools for extended periods. Workers should take breaks and use earplugs to protect the body and ears from vibration and noise. Extreme temperature changes can cause heat rash, fainting, heat cramps, heat exhaustion, heat stroke, frost nip, immersion injury, frostbite and hypothermia. Radiation is emitted by X-rays or gamma rays in certain equipment. Radiation exposure contributes to the development of cancer, eye damage and premature skin ageing and burns.
Biological hazards emerge when the work site is filled with microorganisms. These might include bacteria, viruses, fungi and moulds. Exposure to these can happen during demolition, renovations, sewer work or when working on ventilation systems. Soil, water, insects, animals and the structure itself may be contaminated.
Ergonomic hazards cause disabling injuries to the joints and muscles. Ergonomic hazards occur most frequently in construction and contribute to the most injuries on job sites. These hazards occur because of heavy, frequent and awkward lifting or grips. Excessive force, overexertion, improper use of tools or use of the wrong tools also contributes to problems including sprains, strains, tendinitis, carpal tunnel syndrome, back pain and fatigue.
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