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Hand tools pose deadly hazards that are often ignored

The construction industry in Missouri poses many hazards that could cause injuries with lifelong consequences. Make sure you do not limit your focus to the so-called Fatal Four. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration says the top four construction site fatality hazards include falls, caught-in or between accidents, struck-by accidents and electrocutions.

Hand tools form a significant part of your daily jobs on a construction site, and the hazards they pose deserve more attention than what they get. Although OSHA's safety regulations do not specifically cover hand tools, employers must comply with general standards, which include assured grounding conductors to prevent electrical shocks, along with appropriate personal protective equipment, like gloves and safety goggles.

Common hand and power tool hazards

All hand tool manufacturers make and market their products with safety in mind. However, they are so much a part of your job that you might overlook potential hazards or become negligent due to complacency. Your employer can mitigate the following risks by providing adequate safety training along with the necessary personal protective equipment:

  • Electrical hazards: Electrical shocks can cause catastrophic burns and heart failure, even with small amounts of current. Working with unsafe electrical hand tools on ladders, scaffolds, or other elevated workspaces can cause falls with devastating consequences.
  • Fuel-powered hand tools: You will put your life on the line if you work with fuel-powered tools in areas without sufficient ventilation because the dangerous fuel vapors and exhaust fumes cause explosion and carbon monoxide poisoning hazards.
  • Pneumatic tools: Sanders, drills, chippers and hammers fall in this category of tools powered by compressed air. One of the most significant hazards posed by pneumatic tools is being struck by one of its attachments or fasteners.
  • Hydraulic tools: Liquid is the driver of the motion in hydraulic tools, and the dangers they pose are similar to those posed by electrical hand tools.

From wrenches to axes, all hand tools are dangerous if you misuse them and neglect their maintenance.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics provides information that might underscore the need for safety standard compliance on construction sites. One in 10 construction workers suffer injuries each year, and about 1,000 lose their lives on building sites annually. If you are younger than 35 years old, you will be more prone to construction site injuries, and the most common injuries are to the ribs and backs of workers. The average number of lost workdays exceeds 30 days.

How will you cope if this happens to you?

How prepared are you for wage losses because of workplace injuries? Along with medical expenses, lost workdays can make caring for your family a challenge. Fortunately, help is available through the Missouri workers' compensation insurance system, and an experienced workers' comp attorney can help you navigate the benefits claims process while you focus on recovering and getting back to work.

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