A building that is under construction

14 Construction Site Hazards and Liabilities

Feb 24 2021

Every type of business has associated risks and liabilities. There are, however, certain workplaces or areas of operations that pose an increased risk of injury and property damage. Construction sites are one of them. Each year, 40,000 construction workers are injured from fall accidents alone throughout Canada. Additionally, the average number of deaths that occur in Ontario construction sites is around 20 per year. It’s no surprise that various sources cite construction as one of the most dangerous or deadly industries in Canada. 

The reason why construction sites pose numerous hazards is mainly due to the usage of heavy machinery or electrical components along with the need to work from great heights. There may also be fragile fixtures that need to be handled wherein there’s little room for error. Additionally, certain materials like asbestos may cause long-term health problems to workers.

In this comprehensive article, we cover various construction site hazards and liabilities. These are all useful to consider if you are in charge of risk management for your construction company. This can also serve as a helpful resource for anyone in the industry who seeks to learn more about construction site hazards and liabilities.

Without further ado, let’s get started!

Three tower cranes situated on a building under construction

1. Falls Sustained by Construction Workers

Falling from high places is the most common construction site hazard encountered by workers. In fact, falls account for around 35% of construction site accidents. This is because construction workers often need to work from great heights – whether it’s on the high floors of an unfinished building, rooftops, or on top of scaffolding. 

2. Falling Debris, Materials, and Tools

Another construction hazard associated with working from a height is when debris, materials, and tools fall. This is a danger to the workers as well as to the general public. Though construction sites are generally closed off so that people cannot wander too close, the trajectory of a falling object can be unpredictable. From a high enough distance, even small objects can be dangerous. 

3. Collapsing Trenches

Another common and terrifying construction site hazard is the collapsing of trenches with workers still inside. This is often caused by unsecured trenches, ill-fitting support, and neglected trenches. When this scenario happens, it can cause serious injuries and even death.

4. Sudden Structural Collapse Due to Faulty Design

Any lapses in the design of the building can cause a structural collapse leading to injuries (and possibly death) among construction workers. This hazard, however, is not likely to happen if the project has a qualified engineer and/or architect on board.

5. Injuries from Moving Heavy Machinery

The construction site is an ever-changing environment with materials constantly being moved around including heavy machinery moving, swinging, rotating, and so on. Collisions with such heavy machinery or with the load they carry can result in injury to the worker involved.  

6. Slips and Trips

Slips and trips are yet another highly common construction site hazard. Every year,several thousand workers are injured because of a slip or trip accident in Canada. This is highly common because of the presence of uneven terrain, various obstacles, cables, and slippery floors. 

7. Electrocution

While electrical components are being installed in a building under construction, electrocution is a risk for the workers; especially when workers that aren’t qualified electricians are tasked to carry out electrical work on the construction site. 

8. Harmful Fine Dust and Asbestos

Construction sites are known to have harmful airborne contaminants because of certain operational equipment and activities. However, construction site dust isn’t like regular dust. They can contain hazardous materials that can aggravate asthma and lead to conditions like obstructive pulmonary disease and silicosis. Additionally, the inhalation of asbestos, which are harmful fibres, can lead to lung cancer and pleural thickening. 

9. Hand Arm Vibration Syndrome

Hand Arm Vibration Syndrome (HAVS) is a permanent, debilitating condition that affects the nerves, joints, and blood vessels. Typically, this syndrome affects workers who have handled vibratory power tools and equipment to work the ground. 

10. Excessive Noise

This construction site hazard mainly affects the construction workers themselves (and not so much for the general public) since the workers are in closer proximity to the operations. Prolonged exposure to excessive noise, however, can cause hearing problems over time. 

11. Vehicular Accidents

If your business has its own fleet of vehicles or trucks coming and going from the construction site, there is a chance of vehicular accidents happening within or near the construction site. These accidents can result in injuries to third-party individuals as well as to your employees. 

12. Borrowed/Leased Equipment Damage

Your business can be held liable if any damage is inflicted on borrowed or leased equipment. With so much going on on a construction site, it can happen even with the best workers around. You may also be liable if borrowed/leased equipment is vandalized or stolen. 

13. Third-Party Property Damage

If third-party properties are nearby, it is possible that your business operations could cause damage. For example: flying/falling debris from the construction site or the unsafe mishandling of equipment causes damage to a nearby property.

14. Damage to the Building Under Construction

When we think of hazards and liabilities, the first thought most of us have are the workers and third-party individuals. However, the unfinished building itself can face hazards as well. Bad weather and other natural disasters can damage the structure and result in added expenses.

Overhead shot of an ongoing construction project and three construction workers

How Construction Site Insurance Protects Your Business

As we discussed above, there are numerous construction site hazards and liabilities that businesses in the sector need to be aware of. These construction site hazards pose risks mainly to construction workers, third-party individuals (e.g. clients, suppliers, and the general public), as well as third-party property. 

In order for you to have comprehensive construction site insurance, you need the following coverages:

General Liability Insurance

General liability insurance will cover legal, medical, and repair/replacement costs in the event that your construction business’s operations cause injury to a third-party or third-party property damage.  

Worker’s Compensation Insurance

Worker’s compensation insurance protects employees in the event that they are injured or become ill while performing their job tasks. Coverage includes medical coverage, lost income during their recovery, disability benefits, as well as death benefits.

Builder’s Risk Insurance

Builder’s risk insurance will cover any damage inflicted on an unfinished structure by unfavourable conditions (e.g. flood, high-speed winds, bad weather). This type of insurance will also cover incidents of vandalism and theft. It also extends to the tools and equipment used in construction. 

Commercial Auto Insurance

Commercial auto insurance will cover legal costs, medical costs, and repair/replacement costs in the event that your company’s vehicles or trucks get involved in an accident and injure people, cause damage to property, get stolen, or get vandalized. 

Construction Company Insurance from Toronto’s Award-Winning Insurance Broker

KASE Insurance is the go-to insurance broker for numerous businesses in Toronto and across Canada. Through the years, we have garnered industry recognition and numerous awards. With KASE Insurance, you can be sure you’re in good hands. 

ime to get to know your business, identify its biggest risks, and then put together the insurance plan that will serve you best. We are also known for being highly transparent about the policies we offer and are eager to answer any questions you may have along the way.

Why wait any longer for peace of mind when it comes to construction site hazards?Contact us today or get started with a quick quote!

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