Construction site accidents can create some of the most serious and catastrophic workplace injuries. Scaffolding accidents, ladder accidents, unsafe construction equipment, and falling objects can lead to head trauma, crushing injuries, spinal cord injury, and other catastrophic and potentially fatal injuries. Annually, construction sites yield more than 135,000 injured workers, with more than 1,000 construction workers killed each year. Nearly one-third of all preventable construction site deaths are the result of a fall.
Despite these bleak statistics, one Oklahoma company is celebrating completion of a major construction project with no serious injuries or deaths. As the Devon Energy Corp., dedicates the 50-story Devon Energy Center in downtown Oklahoma City, officials credit advanced planning and strict safety precautions for the project's low accident rate. The company says that during more than 5.4 million man hours of construction, there were no serious injuries, no accidental deaths, and perhaps most shocking, no fall injuries.
Safety precautions and initiatives included:
- Assigning an environmental safety officer to a full-time, on-site position
- Establishing a "zero accident" culture
- Employee recognition for workers following proper safety procedures
- Daily stretching exercises designed to reduce soft-tissue injury among workers
- Full-time medical clinic and emergency medical technicians on-site
- Drug and alcohol testing to support and enforce a zero tolerance policy
According to Devon Energy Corp. and local media, the company's commitment to safety during the construction of the Devon Energy Center resulted in job site injury and incident rates significantly below the national average:
- Incident rate 27% below the national average
- Recordable injury rate 36% below the national average
- Lost time injury rate 92% below the national average
- Workers compensation claims 80% lower per man hour than the national average
Devon Energy Corp. says it plans to implement many of the safety strategies used during construction of the tower in other projects.
Construction of a high-rise tower with no fall accidents and no serious injuries from crane incidents is virtually unheard of. In most construction projects, catastrophic injuries, traumatic brain injuries, fall accidents, and fatal accidents are considered risks of the job. However, most construction accidents are preventable if adequate safety measures are implemented and enforced.
If an injury occurs due to employer negligence or improper safety precautions, an injured worker and his or her family may be entitled to compensation for the injury or loss.