Construction sites can be very dangerous places. According to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, there were almost 4,200 fatalities in the workplace in 2011, and 18 percent of these were construction accidents. Only car accidents take more workers’ lives.
Certain types of injuries are more common than others on construction sites, according to OSHA. The top four causes of construction deaths, known as the “Fatal Four,” are:
- Falls. Falls from heights and same-level falls accounted for the largest percentage of construction deaths in 2011. Of the 738 total deaths, 259 or 35 percent were due to falls.
- Electrocutions. Electrocution accounted for 69 deaths or nine percent of total construction fatalities.
- Struck by object. Falling objects such as bricks, metal and other heavy items caused 73 deaths or ten percent of construction fatalities.
- Caught in or between objects. Victims caught in or between objects or machinery accounted for 18 deaths or two percent of all 2011 construction fatalities.
Experts estimate that 419 deaths per year could be saved by eliminating the dangers from Fatal Four. Fatality statistics tell only part of the story, however. Over 150,000 workers, or more than ten percent of all the construction work force, are injured each year in the construction industry. Most injuries involve the head, trunk, back or spine and can be debilitating for workers. They may lose their jobs and their livelihood as the result of a serious injury and may not be able to support themselves or their families any longer.
Nearly 15 percent of all worker’s compensation claims involve construction accidents. Workers between the ages of 25 and 34 are most likely to be injured on the job, according to OSHA.
What Can Be Done About Construction Accident Injuries?
Construction accidents may not be entirely preventable. However, many accidents can be avoided with attention to detail by companies and workers. Some things workers and companies can do to prevent injuries caused by construction accidents are:
- Follow safety rules on the job. Most companies have posted or stated rules for safely operating equipment. These rules should be followed at all times.
- Regularly inspect equipment. Any equipment that does not meet current safety standards should be repaired or replaced.
- Slow down. Many construction accidents happen because workers are in a hurry and take short cuts. Companies must create a work environment in which safety is more important than speed. Many companies, in their rush to make profits, push workers to meet unrealistic deadlines with the result that accidents happen.
- Create a safety environment. Train workers to notice and report safety problems. If workers feel that they are a part of the safety environment they will be more likely to report problems and suggest solutions.
Victims of construction accidents may be entitled to payment of damages by filing a workers’ compensation claim, a personal injury claim or both. Families of construction workers who die on the job may be able to file a wrongful death claim and workers who are injured may be able to collect payment for their injuries. A personal injury attorney can examine a construction case and advise the victims of their rights in the matter.