Each day, 14 workers are killed on the job nationwide. Of these workers, one in five work in construction. Over the course of a construction worker’s 45-year career, he or she has a 75% chance of experiencing a disabling injury and a 1 in 200 chance of being killed on the job.
Although we call them “accidents,” most construction site injuries are in fact the result of negligence. Sixty percent of construction accident injuries occur during the employee’s first year of work. With appropriate training, many of these injuries could have been prevented.
Leading Causes of Construction Worker Deaths
As construction is one of the most dangerous occupations in the U.S., it comes as no surprise that construction sites are fraught with potential hazards.
OSHA has identified the four leading causes of fatalities among construction workers, dubbed the “Fatal Four.” In order of frequency, these are:
- Falls – 38.7% of total construction worker deaths
- Struck by an Object – 9.4% of total construction worker deaths
- Electrocution – 8.3% of total construction worker deaths
- Caught between – 7.3% of total construction worker deaths
The sad reality is that most (if not all) of construction fatalities that are attributed to the Fatal Four could be prevented if employers, manufacturers, and workers complied with OSHA standards. Eliminating the Fatal Four would save 631 lives every year.
Construction workers may be at risk of falling from scaffolding and ladders, cranes, roofs, and other heights. Fall protection is the most-violated OSHA standard and falls are the most common type of fatal construction accidents.
Best Practices for Fall Prevention
- Install guard rails on elevated platforms and around equipment
- Use appropriate fall protection, such as harnesses, lines, nets, and railings
- Keep floors clean and dry
Struck by Object
The second most common cause of death in construction accidents is struck-by-object injury. Even if a worker is wearing a hard hat, he or she could suffer traumatic brain injury (TBI) if improperly secured tools or construction materials fall from above.
Best Practices for Struck-by-Object Injury Prevention
- Secure tools and materials used in elevated work sites
- Never work beneath a suspended load
- Use appropriate personal protective equipment, including hard hats, safety glasses, goggles, face shields, and hearing protection
Electrocution can cause an array of injuries, ranging in severity from burns to cardiac arrest. Electrocution accidents most often occur due to unsafe equipment, unsafe environment, or unsafe work practices.
Best Practices for Electrocution Injury Prevention
- Properly label electrocution hazards.
- Power down hazardous electrical equipment when not in use.
- Provide proper training and protective equipment (e.g. insulated gloves).
“Caught between” accidents account for the fourth-highest rate of construction worker fatalities. These can be particularly gruesome, as they occur when a worker is crushed between objects, pulled into machinery, or trapped in a collapse or cave-in.
Best Practices for Caught-Between Injury Prevention
- Reinforce tunnels to prevent collapse
- Secure machinery and loads to prevent them from falling over
- Avoid wearing loose clothing that could be caught in machinery
Toxic Chemical Exposure: Another Type of Construction Injury
Most construction sites are home to an array of toxic chemicals, including lead, formaldehyde, and asbestos. Exposure accounts for 15.7% of all construction injuries, and construction workers account for 15% of all reported lead poisoning incidents in the United States.
Depending on the type and duration of exposure, a construction accident involving toxic chemical exposure may result in:
- Chemical burns
- Respiratory diseases
- Internal organ damage
- Reproductive damage
- Birth defects
OSHA regulations require that employers protect workers from hazardous chemical exposure by training on safe handling, establishing safe exposure limits, and providing the necessary safety equipment, including respirators. Manufacturers and distributors of chemicals also have a responsibility to convey potential hazards to their customers.
If you have suffered from health problems as a result of toxic chemical exposure in a construction site accident, you may be entitled to compensation for damages suffered, including medical expenses, lost wages, future wage loss, and pain and suffering. The law offices of Winkler Kurtz, LLP offer complimentary consultations to prospective clients. Contact us today to learn more about your legal rights.
Get Help from a Long Island Construction Accident Lawyer
The skilled legal team at Winkler Kurtz, LLP has been practicing together for over 30 years, and has a long track record of winning settlements for injured clients. When you work with Winkler Kurtz, LLP, you can be certain that we will negotiate the highest compensation for your injury. Please contact us online or call our offices at 631-928-8000 to discuss the details of your case.