Top 10 Construction Site Accidents and How to Prevent Them

Determining the most common construction site accidents, what causes them, and the best way to implement safety checks, is the best prevention of these debilitating, and often fatal, accidents.

Construction sites have the highest injury rate of all dangerous working environments; a sobering thought. Labouring at dizzying heights with dangerous machinery means that serious injuries or death are a daily reality for construction workers.

When faced with loose scaffolding, cave-ins, and incorrect handling of heavy construction vehicles and tools, accidents are presented at every turn. Construction site safety demands that preventative measures and draconian vigilance go hand-in-hand.

As the construction industry enters the annual “high injury season” – a baffling phenomenon to safety experts – focus lies on the top ten construction site accidents and how to prevent them.

Scaffolding Highs and Lows

Supported Scaffolding Safety Icon

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Construction crews spend much time on these elevated structures situated hundreds of metres above ground. The source of most injuries, scaffolding falls account for more than 30 percent of fatalities.

Scaffolding injuries could be halved with regular maintenance, daily checks of the structural design, instability in weather conditions, sway, leveling, and the amount of personnel using the equipment.

Supported Scaffolding Safety Training 

Suspended Scaffolding Safety Training


A common onsite hazard, exposed electrical wiring poses a threat to crew and people passing by the site. Electrocution is avoidable if all wires are correctly labelled, moved away from high traffic areas, electricity is switched off, the correct insulation is used, and construction crew are made aware of where power lines are laid.

Electrical Safety Training

Elevator Shafts

A common sight on high-rise construction developments, lift shafts are extremely dangerous. Construction crew not only risk plummeting down the shafts, which are often left unprotected but there is also the threat of a shaft collapsing.

Shafts, regardless of height off the ground, require maintenance and effective Fall Protection. Guard rails, safety nets, sufficient elevator operation training for all onsite crew, and a highly effective emergency response, is mandatory.

Falling Debris

Fall Protection Safety Training

Construction hard hats are the order of the day. Tools may rain down at a moment’s notice cause fatal head injuries. With debris falling, such as tools being accidently kicked from the top floor, ground crew risk serious trauma.

Working on upper building levels without guard rails means picking up after oneself, watching your step, and securing equipment during and after use.

Machinery Accidents

Heavy-duty motorized equipment necessitates draconian safety instructions. Many crew have lost limbs and lives because of inadequate training, lack of focus, or defective equipment. Safety training on high-speed and sharp motorized equipment is imperative.

Crane Accidents

Neglect on the part of employers to maintain the cranes, and operators overloading, or unbalancing loads, cause crane injuries. Not only do crew and employers endanger their own lives when not paying attention, but they can turn an entire construction site into a danger zone, within seconds.

Crane operators require intensive training and extreme focus. By communicating plans, identifying potential risks and providing solutions, barricading the work area, and ensuring the ground area is suitable to safely handle the entire structure; accidents can be prevented.

Machine Guard Safety


So simple that it is overlooked. Treated as negligible but overexertion, dehydration and exhaustion all contribute to a lack of focus, and small mistakes with big consequences. Working in heat contributes to mental and physical exhaustion, which is why diet and sleep, as well as hydration, make a substantial difference to construction safety.


A leading cause of construction site deaths, explosions are often due to negligence or inefficient electrical wiring. Granted, there are incidents of leaking gas, which may fall outside the perimeters of human error, but with routine maintenance and safety checks these issues can be addressed.

Accidental Falls

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Stray equipment, dusty floors, holes, and wires all contribute to construction site accidents. Simply slipping on a tool can send a crew member off the edge of a building. Accidentally covering a hole with plastic while working, can lead to broken bones.

Vigilance, storing equipment away and being aware of colleagues, makes a huge difference between life, death and serious injury.

Fall Protection

Ladder Safety 


Vehicle Accidents

A degree of acuity is essential from ground crew. Construction vehicles are mammoth and it is challenging for operators to see everything going on around them. Construction site accidents with vehicles have included men crushed under loaders which means the simple act of walking through a construction site without looking for huge machines, is a deadly exercise. Treading carefully and making colleagues aware of your presence is a safe bet.

Driving Safety

The nature of this job requires extreme security precedents. Construction safety is perpetually re-evaluated and experts are tightening the laws to ensure construction site accidents are minimized, and at best, avoided. After all, prevention is certainly better than a cure.

Other Construction Safety Resources:

Author Biography:

Emily Ford is a Perth Based property specialist for Australia’s Property Institute. This post was written with kind contributions from safety experts and other industry professionals. Connect with me on Google + and please comment!

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OSHA requires that adequate first aid supplies
should be available for employees.

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