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Why safety training is so critical for construction workers

The existence of OSHA regulations isn't the only reason that construction companies need to adhere to rigorous safety training standards. When it comes to reducing risks on the job, the best strategies aren't always obvious. It's up to employers to teach their workers the right ways to protect themselves and others. More than just another regulatory hoop to jump through, safety training is a matter of life and death for countless construction professionals.

The constant perils of the job

Construction is an undeniably dangerous industry. From major skyscraper buildouts to residential renovations, hazards persist regardless of a project's scale. In addition to readily apparent dangers, like the potential fall injuries that threaten those who work at elevated heights, many construction techniques involve toxic materials and tools that are inherently dangerous. The skilled nature of certain tasks also means that it may not be readily apparent how to mitigate risky conditions.

The value of ongoing training

Training plays a vital role in reducing the incidence of preventable harm. One 2014 study revealed that in states with mandatory OSHA 10-hour safety training, workplace fatality rates were significantly lower. Another assessment by the New York Committee for Occupational Safety and Health discovered that a staggering 80 percent of construction worker fatalities happened at non-unionized job sites that didn't require safety training.

What goes into an effective training program?

Although no amount of training can totally eliminate the inherent risks of construction work, employers can go a long way toward reducing those risks by investing in safety education.

Emergency-readiness is a critical aspect of that education. Training should address not only how to prevent accidents, but also how to handle injuries when they do occur. For instance, a worker who knows how to administer first aid could stop their injured comrade from sustaining life-threatening harm, or a machine operator who's familiar with their equipment's emergency cutoff mechanisms might prevent a disaster in the nick of time.

Safety training should also involve material education. OSHA's Hazard Communication Standard, or HCS, mandates that construction companies use safety data sheets to promote awareness of accepted handling procedures for hazardous chemicals and building materials among employees.

When employers take shortcuts...

On top of facing regulatory crackdowns for noncompliance, employers who fall short could potentially be held liable in civil courts for failing to provide appropriate training that might have otherwise saved a construction worker's career (or life). Workers who suffer injuries as a result of poor training may have strong claims for compensation - whether through workers' comp, a personal injury action or both.

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