Construction sites are dangerous for workers because they contain equipment and involve activities that often result in serious injuries.
When construction companies, contractors, and property owners don't pay attention to safety standards and proper training for workers, construction sites become traps for the men and women who are tasked with getting dangerous jobs done right.
According to the U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), nearly 6.5 million people work at about 252,000 construction sites across the United States on any given day.
The fatality rate in the construction industry is higher than the national average for all industries. Potential hazards for construction workers include falls, trench collapse, scaffold collapse, electrocutions and a lack of personal protective equipment.
Key Points - Table of Contents
- What Are The Most Common Causes of Construction Accidents?
- What Are The Most Common Construction Injuries?
- Contacting an Experienced Construction Injury Attorney
If you or a loved one has been injured in a construction site accident, it is important that you fully understand your legal rights after a work injury.
An experienced Los Angeles work injury lawyer who has had a successful track record of handling construction accident and third-party construction accident lawsuits will be able to help you secure maximum compensation for all of your losses.
What Are The Most Common Causes of Construction Accidents?
Here are some of the most common causes of injuries suffered by construction workers that cause victims to file a lawsuit:
There is no question that falls are the leading cause of death and catastrophic injury on construction sites. Construction workers are at risk of falling from scaffolding, cranes, roofs, ladders and other tools that are commonly used for construction.
Falls could result in major injuries including brain injuries, spinal cord trauma and broken bones, to mention a few.
Falls are the number one cause of construction accident injuries and deaths. Employers are required to set up the work place to prevent employees from falling off of overhead platforms, elevated workstations or into holes in the floor and walls.
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, there were 1,102 fatal injuries in the construction industry in 2019. These deaths represented 20.7% of the total workplace fatalities in the United States.
Falls, slips and trips were the most frequent type of fatal event in the construction sector, representing 37.9% of all fatalities.
This was a 22.9% increase in fatal falls compared to 2018. Most falls in construction involve workers falling to a lower level.
The U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) requires that fall protection be provided at elevations of 4 feet in general industry workplaces and 6 feet in the construction industry.
OSHA also requires that fall protection be provided when working over dangerous equipment and machinery, regardless of the height or fall distance.
Construction companies and contractors are required to follow a number of OSHA regulations to prevent fall-related construction accidents.
Some of the main factors that cause falls are as follows:
- Workers not being equipped with a fall arrest system such as harnesses
- Lack of guardrails or improperly installed guardrails
- Lack of safety training for workers
- Improperly constructed or installed scaffolding
- Slick or slippery surfaces at the site
- Failure to perform routine safety inspections at the site
Construction workers are also at a heightened risk of being struck by objects from above. For example, a construction worker could get hit by tools or flying debris.
Any items that are not properly secured could fall and strike workers below. Even when a construction worker is wearing a hard hat, they can still sustain serious head or spinal cord injuries.
You are at risk from falling objects when you are underneath cranes or scaffolds, or where work is being performed overhead. There is also a danger from flying objects when power tools or activities in construction such as pushing, pulling or prying cause objects to become airborne.
Such accidents have the potential to cause serious injuries ranging from cuts and concussions to blindness or even death.
When workers are struck by objects at a construction site, the resulting injuries can be devastating. About 75% of struck-by fatalities in construction involve heavy equipment such as trucks or cranes, according to OSHA.
Heavy machinery that is used on construction sites could potentially malfunction or fail and cause serious injuries. For example, when a saw doesn't have the necessary guards, it could cause finger or limb amputations, or lacerations that result in severe bleeding.
If an unsafe piece of equipment has caused your injuries, you may have a product liability claim against the manufacturer of a defective piece of equipment.
The term "electrocution" refers to death by electric shock caused by deadly amounts of electrical energies.
Electrocution could occur from contact with power lines, with energized sources such as defective equipment or exposed wires. Both overhead and underground power lines may carry a high voltage.
Such accidents can be avoided when workers maintain a safe distance from live power lines and specifically avoid accidental contact with ladders, lifts, heavy equipment etc.
When workers do need to operate near power lines, the utility company should be contacted to de-energize and ground the lines.
When vehicle safety practices are not properly followed at a worksite, there is the risk of being pinned between construction vehicles and walls, being struck by swinging backhoes or crushed under overturned vehicles.
There is also the danger of being struck by construction vehicles or large equipment commonly found in construction sites such as forklifts.
Construction workers are also at risk of being run over by vehicles such as forklifts or large trucks, mostly when they are backing out of construction sites.
These types of accidents can be prevented by having safety protocols in place. Neglect by a supervisor or co-worker could also lead to these types of accidents.
Caught In/Between Incidents
Caught in/between accidents occur most often on construction sites. This is a term used to describe a group of injuries that involve being crushed under, between or even inside heavy objects or machinery.
OSHA defines caught in/between accidents as those that occur when a person is crushed between two or more objects.
Examples of caught in/between accidents include:
- Crushed by trench walls that cave in
- Being pinned inside a piece of equipment
- Being caught between two machines
- Getting crushed under a falling load
- Getting trapped under machinery that tips over
- Being trapped under debris during demolition
Fires and Explosions
Construction sites also use and store hazardous materials such as flammable gases and chemicals. Dangerous conditions such as exposed wiring, leaking pipes or unsafe use or storage of flammable substances could lead to fires and explosions on a construction site. Such accidents could result in serious burn injuries or smoke inhalation injuries, both of which could be fatal.
Trench or Wall Collapses
Another common type of construction injury occurs when a trench that is being built collapses on workers at the site. This could cause workers to be struck by heavy debris or buried under rubble.
Walls that are not properly secured can also collapse and cause devastating injuries.
Highway or Freeway Collisions
Collisions on California's highways and freeways are a common cause of death for construction workers who are involved in roadway construction.
These types of crashes could lead to serious injuries and substantial losses for workers and their families. Collisions in highway work zones could occur because of negligent drivers who ignore construction zone signs or drive while impaired or distracted.
In such cases, the at-fault driver could be held liable. Sometimes, an entity responsible for the work zone – either a private company or a government agency such as the California Department of Transportation (Caltrans), may be held liable because they have a duty of care to keep the construction zone safe for workers.
What Are The Most Common Construction Injuries?
Some of the common injuries and medical conditions suffered by construction workers as a result of workplace injuries include:
- Head injuries or traumatic brain injuries: This may occur after a fall or as a result of heavy objects being dropped on the construction worker. Head injuries can have lifelong effects and may require multiple surgeries or even lengthy rehabilitation depending on the nature and extent of the injury.
- Spinal cord damage: Damage to the spinal cord may result in neck and/or back injuries from work. These types of injuries may leave workers with chronic pain or in some case, could even cause partial or complete paralysis. When catastrophic spinal injuries occur, individuals are disabled for life and are unable to return to work or earn a livelihood.
- Burn injuries: Burn injuries can be disabling and cause severe deformities that may not even be repaired with cosmetic surgeries. Burn injury victims often require costly and painful skin graft procedures that affect construction accident settlements. These types of expenditures are often not covered by health insurance policies, which means many end up paying out of pocket.
- Amputations: Finger, toe or limb amputations could occur when machinery or equipment malfunction. Such injuries could also threaten a worker's job and career.
- Broken bones: While broken bone injuries may not be life threatening, some types of bone fractures can leave workers with deformities and/or chronic pain. Most fractures require lengthy rehabilitation and ongoing treatment to recover strength and mobility in the affected parts of the body.
- Eye and ear injuries: Construction workers may suffer eye injuries as a result of being impaled by objects such as nails fired by a malfunctioning nail gun. Loud noises on construction sites could cause hearing damage especially if the worker is not provided with hearing protection.
- Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD): Workers who are severely injured or experience a traumatic event may suffer psychological injuries such as PTSD.
While some of these dangers may be inherent to construction sites, negligence on the part of construction companies, contractors and other parties also cause and contribute to tragic accidents on construction sites.
Despite accidents that cause injuries and fatalities construction companies and contractors consistently fall short of meeting their obligations to workers by failing to provide proper safety equipment, training and taking other steps that are critical to preventing these construction accidents.
Contacting an Experienced Construction Injury Attorney
If you or a loved one has suffered an injury on a construction site, it would be in your best interest to contact an experienced construction accident attorney who can help protect your legal right to compensation.
In such cases, workers may be able to file a lawsuit against a third party whose negligence caused the accident and resulting injuries. Examples of third parties include general contractors, construction companies, sub-contractors, property owners, and manufacturers of dangerous or defective products.
The experienced and knowledgeable construction accident attorneys at Greenberg and Ruby can help evaluate your claim and help you navigate the work injury claim process. Call (323) 782-0535 to schedule a no-cost, no-obligation consultation.