Most people probably have some idea that construction is a dangerous career to pursue. The reality is that a lifetime career in construction can have serious implications for long-term health. A multi-database study indicates a 45-year construction career gives a worker a 75% chance of incurring a disabling injury, and a 1/200 chance of being killed on the job. With nearly 1.5 million workers in the construction industry and continued growth in the field, this means thousands of construction workers are at risk every minute of the day.
Injuries resulting from a serious construction site accident are likely to permanently change the life of the victim, as well as his or her family members. The impact of a construction accident can leave a worker with a traumatic brain injury, paralysis, blunt force trauma, including internal injuries, and many other kinds of injury.
On average, there are nearly 5,000 workplace fatalities each year in the United States, with over 85% of those occurring in private industry. Out of the private industry workplace deaths, more than 20% took place in the construction industry. Why is this? Well, construction is about change and building. This means the work environment, and therefore the possible hazards are different every single day. Assessing the safety of a job site is always an ongoing task, requiring significant pre-planning, proper equipment, safety training, and minute-by-minute attention to detail.
On major challenge posed by construction accidents is that knowledge of a risk does not readily result in great worker safety. In addition, there are often many players on a construction site, and site owners, employers, and many third-party contractors must ALL be equally committed to job site safety. This means everyone must be vigilant in adhering to safety protocols and best practices. Getting so many different parties on the same page can be incredibly difficult.
Common Construction Site Dangers and “The Fatal Four”
Construction site dangers can vary by project or work site. Sometimes it is the physical environment creating a risk, such as when construction workers are operating at significant heights, in deep trenches, or in areas where a demolition, structure collapse, or falling object can take a life in a heartbeat. Equipment and machinery also can leave a worker disabled permanently. Exposure to chemical can cause both short-term and long-term health abnormalities, and in the worst cases, such as with asbestos, the chemicals on a work site can result in terminal illness.
It would be nearly impossible to lay out every single risk facing construction workers on a job site. a majority (58.1%) of all construction fatalities are a result of “The Fatal Four:”
- Struck by Object
- Caught in/between (usually including cave-ins)
Decreases in the number of deaths caused by “the fatal four” are certainly possible; however, employers of construction workers must be serious and consistent about ensuring a safe work space. Unfortunately, too many of these employers worry more about their bottom line than about their employees. In many years, the most common violation of standards set forth by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) deals with fall protection. Proper equipment while working at heights is critical to safety, as is the requisite knowledge on how to maintain safety in the air. Any company that fails to protect their employees in this basic way is setting their workers up for a dangerous fall.
Outside “the fatal four,” there are literally hundreds of different kinds of construction site accident that can occur, including:
- Safety code violations
- Improper site design or inspection
- OSHA violations
- Forklift accidents
- Slips, Trips, and falls
- Inhalation injuries
- Roofing accidents
- Eye injuries from flying debris
- Electrocution and electrical accidents
- Trench collapses
- Building collapses
- Toxic fumes
- Falls from unprotected roofs
- Crane Accidents
- Scaffold Accidents
- Defective power tools
- Falling debris
- Elevator and material lift accidents
- Toxic chemical exposure
- Worn or defective rope or cable
- Welding accidents
- Falls through unprotected holes
- Nail gun accidents
You Have Rights on a Construction Site!
As a construction worker, you have a right to a safe workplace. If you ever feel unsafe at work, you can contact OSHA, who may be able to help you in two ways: they can inspect your workplace or they can provide you with training or information aimed at minimizing risk and serious injury. Workers who speak a language other than English have a right to receive such info or treatment in a language they understand.
Your employer must provide key safety information about the workplace, including copies of any standards, rules, regulations, requirements, and results of hazard testing. Perhaps most importantly, you should never feel unable to or unsafe in reporting or discussing violations. Retaliation by an employer or other employees for speaking up is not allowed under the law.
Whether you are a laborer, carpenter, electrician, ironworker, crane operator, plumber, masons painter, sheet metal worker, welder, or heavy equipment operator, you have three basic legal options if you are seriously injured in a construction site accident:
A Product Liability Lawsuit, in which a worker claims his or her injury resulted from a defective piece of construction equipment or material.
Workers’ Compensation, in which an employee is injured at work and for which he or she will be entitled for the losses incurred after the injury.
A Personal Injury Lawsuit, which requires an employee prove that someone who is not his or her employer is wholly or partially liable for the accident. Compensation is often higher than in a workers’ compensation claim.
If you’ve been injured in a construction site accident, the Law Offices of Lee Steinberg can help you decide which of the three options is best for you, and we have decades of experience working with all three choices. If you or a loved one has experienced injury, pain, or suffering after a construction site accident, we can help you and we can get started with no up front cost to you. In fact, we won’t charge you at all unless your case is settled or won. We’re on your side–call us today to discuss the possibility of a personal injury claim, 1-800-LEE-FREE.