Prefab construction has earned a reputation for being faster and more cost-effective than traditional construction methods. Homeowners and builders may not know that the workplace health and safety benefits of prefab are equally as exciting. The US Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) found that there were 174,100 non-fatal illnesses and injuries in the construction industry in 2020. With 74,500 of these cases resulting in time away from work, workplace injuries can cost workers thousands in income and set a project back months. We’ll discuss how prefab can help make your construction site safer and help your project run smoothly.
Reduced Manual Handling
Another major cause of injury on construction sites is body stressing due to carrying, lifting, and putting down objects. Prefab construction helps mitigate the risk of body stressing by reducing manual handling on-site. For example, if prefab concrete panels are used in a project, there’s no need for the manual handling of formwork. The simplicity of prefab systems is particularly beneficial for less experienced workers, who are more likely to injure themselves due to improper lifting techniques.
With an annual total separation rate of 56.9% across the industry, prefab may soon be necessary to compensate for the lack of experience on-site. Interestingly, workplace injuries are a factor in employee turnover. With all of its safety benefits, prefab could just be key to keeping construction workers in the industry for longer.
Less Slips, Trips, and Falls
According to the BLS, 31.4% of on-site injuries are caused by slips, trips, and falls. Working in a controlled factory environment removes factors that can cause these injuries, like uneven terrain and wet weather conditions. Prefab construction produces less material waste than traditional construction, so there’s also less risk of workers tripping on debris. Surprisingly, contact with objects and equipment is the fourth-highest cause of non-fatal injuries in construction. By simply reducing the number of workers required on-site, prefab construction reduces exposure to these hazards.
Fewer Falls From Height
Falls from height are the leading cause of death in the Australian construction industry. Prefab construction offers an opportunity to change this. A UK study found that falls from height were the cause of 50% of fatalities in traditional construction, compared to 16% of fatalities in manufacturing. Off-site manufacturing is safer in this respect as more construction work can be completed at ground level. On top of this, prefab structures can be assembled quickly once they arrive on-site, so less time is spent working at height overall.
Higher Quality Structures
There’s a misconception that prefab homes are less sturdy than stick-built homes, but this simply isn’t the case. Prefab structures must meet strict building code regulations so homeowners can be sure they’re safe. It’s also much easier to control quality in a factory environment. Many builders subcontract all the work on their homes, and with many different homes being framed at the same time, problems can occur with a lack of consistent framers on every project, leading to low quality onsite for traditional builders.
At Plungie, off-site construction gives us the ability to assess quality at each stage of the production process. If our in-house quality assurance team finds a pool that isn’t up to scratch, it won’t move to the next stage of production until it’s brought up to standard.
As such, homeowners and builders can feel confident that they are receiving a reliable, high-quality product. Read our article about how prefabrication can improve quality in construction to learn more.
Health And Safety Shouldn’t Go Out The Window
Even though prefab construction reduces the risk of accidents and injuries, workplace health and safety cannot be ignored. When production is moved off-site, some of the on-site risk is transferred to the factory setting. Prefab companies must, therefore, invest in training and have clear workplace health and safety plans in place. After all, you can’t put a price on the safety of your team.