More than 6 million people work at nearly 300,000 construction sites on any given day throughout the United States.
Even with numerous local, state, and federal safety regulations in place, construction accidents still occur fairly frequently. In fact, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) estimates that one in ten construction workers are injured every year.
Injuries experienced can range from minor burns, cuts, scrapes, and bruises to concussions, electrocution, and broken bones and chronic spine-related pain.
Even when hardhats are worn, falling objects may cause a construction worker to sustain a head injury if the object is a heavy beam or similar object that’s not typically able to be deflected by a hardhat. Falling objects might include debris resulting from a demolition project, unstable supports, parts of a ceiling or roof, or materials being tossed down from an upper level to the ground. In some cases, equipment may become unstable and fall on construction workers.
With heavy construction machinery, it’s excavating machines, backhoes and bulldozers, cranes, mixers, and aerial lifts that tend to cause the most accidents. Specialized heavy machinery that’s designed for specific tasks may also result in accidents that include damage to limbs, excess strain on back-supporting muscles and spinal discs, and disfigurements or deformities. The use of any type of heavy machinery for construction projects requires proper supervision and training. Even when this is the case, accidents may result from hazardous working conditions or defects in the machine’s design.
OSHA ranks falls from various heights at the top potential hazard for individuals working in the construction industry. Nearly 40 percent of construction worker deaths are attributed to falls, according to Bureau of Labor Statistics data. A common source of a falling injury for construction workers is scaffolding. In some instances, scaffolding may collapse, or it could become unstable enough to cause a worker to lose their balance and fall. The resulting injuries may involve spinal cord injuries, crush injuries, or broken bones.
Other Causes of Construction-Related Accidents
Pipes, ducts, and tubing are among the building parts and materials that account for more than 10,000 construction accidents or illnesses, according to available data. Injuries from non-powered and powered hand tools like hammers, digging tools, striking tools, and boxcutters are also a leading accidental injury source. Additionally, construction accidents occur due to:
- Electric shock
- Trench collapses
- Slippery or unstable floors, walkways, or ground surfaces
- Falls from ladders and stairways
Preventing Construction Accidents
While not always preventable, construction accidents can be reduced with proper safety training and the implementation of standard work site safety practices. Blocking off areas where debris will be falling, quickly cleaning up spills, inspecting tools and equipment on a regular basis, making sure scaffolding is set up to carry four times its maximum intended load, and limiting the use of heavy machinery to experienced individuals are some other possible ways to prevent common construction-related accidents.
From construction site owners and sub-contractors to equipment manufacturers and co-workers, there are many parties that might be directly or indirectly responsible for a construction accident. An attorney may help injured construction workers files a workers’ compensation claim following an injury. Such claims may be combined with additional claims against third parties that might have been negligent to maximize recovery of damages. If the injured worker has died, surviving family members may be entitled to compensation.