According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the construction industry is considered one of the most dangerous jobs in America. Serious and often fatal injuries occur on a daily basis. In fact, approximately two construction-related deaths occur each day in the United States and account for one in every five work-related fatalities. Despite work safety regulations and policies enforced by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), construction sites remain hazardous places to work.
Most construction injuries result from what is known in the industry as the Fatal Four, which include slips, trips, and falls; electrocution; getting hit by heavy or moving objects; and getting caught in between objects.
What is surprising is that most of these construction accidents are preventable if safety policies are followed and construction equipment is maintained. OSHA violations most commonly reported at construction sites include those relating to fall protection, scaffolding, ladders, machine guarding, respiratory protections, and electrical requirements. Though OSHA enforces safety regulations, they are overwhelmed by short staff and budget cuts, so routine inspections may not be happening as often as required.
Four Types of Construction Accidents
Almost 40 percent of all construction accident injuries and deaths occur from falls. Improper scaffolding, poor maintenance of work platforms and floors, overhanging steel bars, unprotected openings or sides to elevated surfaces, and improper use of ladders are generally responsible for the most serious and deadly falls. Proper safety training and protective equipment such as harnesses can greatly reduce the amount of falls at construction sites.
Over ten percent of all injuries and deaths on construction sites can be attributed to being struck by another object such as a moving vehicle, masonry walls, falling tools and other objects. Brain injuries as well as injuries to the head, neck, and back are common in construction accidents caused by being struck by an object. Injuries of this nature can render a construction worker unable to work for an extended period, or leave them permanently disabled.
Electrocution injuries resulting from construction workers coming into contact with high voltage wires are responsible for almost nine percent of serious accidents in the construction industry. A lack of ground fault, improper use of electrical wires and components, and electric shock and burns can leave a worker with amputated limbs, scarring and disfigurement, and sudden death.
The final aspect of the fatal four happens when construction workers become wedged between objects. Almost three percent of all construction injuries and deaths occur when workers get stuck between objects that are poorly placed or improperly maintained. Unsafe access/egress and spoil-pile placements, as well as poorly maintained trench and protective equipment, are the leading cause of these construction accidents.
Steps to Take if Injured
It is imperative for construction workers to report and address injuries suffered at the construction site immediately. Workers should seek medical attention, document the accident and report it to their employer. Moreover, whenever possible an injured construction worker must be sure to obtain witnesses to give details about the accident. It is advised that someone take pictures of the injury and the accident site to substantiate a claim.
Lastly, an experienced construction accident lawyer should be contacted as soon as possible. An experienced and reputable personal injury attorney can help pursue compensation for medical bills, loss of wages, as well as pain and suffering.