Construction Safety

Construction industry is marred by many accidents that occur in construction sites. These accidents are mostly avoidable in case laid down rules and guidelines are followed. One sector in construction that takes a huge percentage of construction accidents is trenching. Trenching falls under the excavation type of construction. Excavations in general account for well over 112 percent of all the other construction type incidents (Ireland, 2006). Lack of strict rules and guidelines as well as mild penalties to offenders are some of the main causes of increased offences in regards to construction site safety. OSHA guidelines in many states act as mere guidelines and not the law as construction accidents increase as time goes by. This has caused many states e.g. Massachusetts and Connecticut to have in place stricter guidelines that highly follow OSHA rules or supersede them. Furthermore, these states ensure that the OSHA rules are followed to the letter e.g. the 10 hr-OSHA training (Ireland, 2006). As it has been seen trenching is an area that requires huge attention as fatalities and injuries are alarmingly high.Trenching has many regulations as to safety of the workers but they are hardly followed by construction firms. The case of Robert Harrell in Texas and Martin Samaniego in California are a clear proof of how neglected OSHA guidelines are. Investigations to these cases revealed that little had been done to protect these excavators from caving in or collapsing of the trenches they were working in. These are just but two fatality cases in two dozens reported yearly in the United States. Of importance to note is that more than 1000 cases of collapsed trenches are reported annually with non-fatal injuries (Ireland, 2006).The biggest issue that concerns safety in trench-related constructions is lack of enforcement of laid down regulations or guidelines. It is sad to note that in 2004 inspections in such sites by OSHA officials proved this fact. Around 90 percent of the inspected trench sites had no protective systems in place exposing the workers to immense danger of fatalities or injuries in case of cave-ins or collapse (Ireland, 2006). The remedial action that has been in force for quite a long time is the fining system. This shows that this system has faults or loopholes that are being taken advantage of by the contractors. For this reason some firms e.g. Morrilton and Koontz Electric Co. are known to disregard OSHA rules and enforce stiffer ones in their constructions (Ireland, 2006). Although sloping, provision of a barrier and shorting are some of the recommended approaches to protecting workers, contractors still fail to follow them. What these firms fail to acknowledge is the opportunity cost related to lack of their investment in safety mechanisms. They lose on time for inspections, repairs and employee turnover. They also lose in terms of the heavy fines that are currently being imposed for offences.Construction industry in general seems to lack clear policy guidelines as to how to conduct business. This is well elaborated by the differences in guidelines adopted by individual firms and penalties within respective states. OSHA guidelines are actually the minimum the industry has and there is need to develop stricter rules and have stiffer penalties. Otherwise, accident and incident cases are not to end any time soon but will escalate as time passes.ReferenceIreland, B. (June 2006). Danger uncovered: Are shorter schedules and tighter budgets putting workers at risk in the trenches? ECamp.M.

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