Can you smell the danger on the construction site?

If you work in the construction industry in Alabama, you will likely know that your occupation is significantly more hazardous than most other jobs. While workers in offices, retail stores and many other work environments also face injury risks, construction workers have to deal with an endless list of potentially deadly occupational hazards. Although the Occupational Safety and Health Administration prescribes strict safety standards, even compliance might not avoid unanticipated on-the-job accidents.

Some safety advocates say workers should not disregard the power of their senses. They say every one of your five senses can play a role in keeping you safe.

The sense of sight

You might disagree with these advocates who say you do not use your sense of sight to protect you. However, as you focus on the job at hand, you might fail to notice some of the following:

  • Do you always scan your surroundings for possible risks or potentially hazardous or unsafe conditions as you walk through the construction site?
  • Do you take the responsibility to report such hazards immediately?
  • Do you ever disregard dangers, leaving it for others to report?

While sight can alert you to hazards, what about those that you cannot see?

The sense of hearing

When you cannot see a danger, your sense of hearing might alert you to it. However, construction sites typically have many sounds, some of which might be warning signs originating from any of the following conditions that might be less than normal:

  • Is there anything different to the loud diesel engine sounds of heavy equipment?
  • Do the rotary hammer's sounds seem normal as it drills through the concrete?
  • Is there anything about the sounds of the painter's sprayer that seems noticeably off?

If you have been working around these conditions for some time, you will likely be familiar with the sounds they make, and also the sounds they should not make.

But what if you have to wear ear protection? How will you pick up hazards that you cannot see or hear?

The sense of touch

If you work with the same types of tools frequently, you will likely spot irregularities immediately. All you have to do is to be alert to the following:

  • Can you feel a tool or piece of equipment's change in vibration even if you cannot hear the difference?
  • Do you remove a saw or drill from service as soon as you feel strange vibrations or rattles in your hands while working with it, and inspect it again after repairs?
  • Even in the noisiest environment, would you not feel the forklift's steering shudder or the boom jerking while using it?

What will alert you if you are not working hands-on?

The sense of smell

Do not disregard your sense of smell because it might save your life under any of the following circumstances:

  • Do you notice a burning smell from your power tool motor that has a gas leak?
  • Do you work with natural gas or propane? They both have additives to give them a distinctive smell of rotten eggs to warn you.

And then there is the fifth sense.

The sense of taste

You might not need to use your sense of taste at your current job, but take note because you might need it in a future occupation:

  • Did you know that you can taste chemicals such as mercury or lead?
  • Even if you do not recognize it, the metal-like taste will alert you to the danger.

What you might take away from this is always to use all your senses even while you work, and always to take immediate action when you sense danger.

Who can help you when you receive an injury?

If you were caught unawares by a workplace hazard and suffered on-the-job injuries, you might be eligible for workers' compensation benefits through the state-regulated insurance program. An attorney who has experience in dealing with the Alabama workers' comp system can navigate the claims process for you to obtain benefits to cover your medical expenses and lost wages.

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