Construction workers have one of the most dangerous types of jobs in the United States. According to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), construction workers make up around 20 percent of fatal job site accidents every year.
There are many dangers that can be found on construction work sites across America. Some of these hazards are rather obvious, but others may not be so easy to spot. By learning what to look out for, construction workers, their supervisors, and the companies they work for can identify hazards before they lead to a serious injury. Here is a list of some of the most common types of construction accidents among U.S. workers.
Construction workers must often work on ladders, scaffolding, roofs, cranes, and other types of elevated surfaces, which increases the risk of falls. The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health reports that falls account for one-third of construction-related deaths.
Safety regulations require employers to provide safety equipment and gear to prevent falls or minimize their danger, and some rules apply to any workers asked to work above four feet off the ground.
Construction workers are also at risk of being struck by falling objects, such as unsecured tools, equipment, and building materials. Falling objects can lead to minor injuries, such as cuts, bruises, and abrasions, or more serious damage like traumatic brain injuries.
More than 100 construction workers died after being struck by falling objects in 2018, 11 percent of all construction industry deaths that year, making falling objects one of construction’s “Fatal Four” accidents along with falls, electrocutions, and caught-in-between incidents.
Electrocution is another leading cause of injuries and deaths among construction workers. Overhead power lines on a worksite or exposed wires in an unfinished electrical system are notoriously dangerous and account for most electrocution accidents.
Electricity-related injuries can also happen when workers or supervisors have not received proper training in the basics of electrical safety techniques.
Back-overs and crushed-between accidents take place when a worker gets struck or run over by a vehicle or piece of equipment, trapped or crushed in machinery, or caught in a collapsing structure.
Equipment-related accidents pose a consistent threat to construction workers: If a crane collapses, a nail gun misfires, or a bulldozer overturns, a worker could suffer broken bones, neck and back injuries, punctures, crush injuries, or traumatic brain injuries.
A potential collapse of a work trench, or even an entire structure or building, can also be extremely dangerous for construction workers.
If the walls of a trench do not have proper supports, they can give way and bury workers in tons of dirt, inhibiting their ability to breathe and possibly causing death. Buildings can also collapse suddenly in the middle of construction or demolition, trapping workers beneath the rubble.
Construction workers perform hard labor for long hours, and that often requires repetitive motion. This can lead to overuse injuries of the muscles, joints, ligaments, and tendons.
Further, many companies and municipalities conduct construction projects during the hot summer months, which can lead to dehydration, heat exhaustion, and heat-stroke. Employers must accommodate workers with adequate water, shade, and rest breaks.
Certain construction sites, especially those involving demolition of old structures, can expose workers to dangerous airborne particles, causing a condition known as pneumoconiosis. The top causes of this condition are asbestos, coal dust, and silica.
According to OSHA, the risk of silica exposure remains highest while workers sandblast paint and remove rust from buildings, bridges, and other surfaces. Activities such as drilling, brick cutting, and concrete mixing can also cause silica dust to enter the air. OSHA regulations limit the amount of airborne silica to which a construction worker can be exposed during a single shift.
Other common injuries and illnesses caused by construction accidents include:
In most cases, construction workers who have suffered a work-related injury must file a claim for workers’ compensation benefits. These benefits can provide medical coverage and a portion of a worker’s salary while they recover from their injury at home.
In some circumstances, however, an injured worker may need to file a lawsuit to recover the compensation they need. For example, workers’ comp may not cover all your costs and expenses, or your claim may be denied. In that instance, you may need to appeal your claim.
Additionally, if employer negligence contributes to a worker’s injuries, an injured employee may consider a personal injury lawsuit seeking damages. And workers harmed by faulty equipment may find relief by pursuing a product liability claim.
Injured workers can learn more about their legal options by scheduling a consultation with an experienced personal injury attorney.
Injuries cost money, including time away from work, medical bills, and other complications. Before taking legal action or trying to negotiate a settlement on your own, you should talk to an attorney about your case. You can search LawInfo’s legal directory to find a local construction accident attorney to discuss the merits of your case. This one step can level the playing field, help you protect your rights, and put you in the best position for recovering the compensation that you deserve.
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