The number of construction workers who have been fatally injured on the job has reached its highest level in at least nine years in 2019. According to a new report from the Center for Construction Training and Research, a nonprofit that aims to reduce injuries and fatalities in the construction industry, there was a 41.1% increase in fatal construction accidents between 2011 and 2019. Data for this report was gleaned from the Census of Fatal Occupational injuries. Researchers identified 1,102 construction deaths in 2019.
The study found that the increase in fatal injuries was especially pronounced among Hispanic workers increasing by nearly 90% over the nine-year period and far outpacing the group's 55% rise in employment over that period. Also, workers in the 45 to 64 age group accounted for the most number of deaths (241) between 2016 and 2019. However, the 65-plus age group had the highest fatality rate over those four years – more than twice that of the 45 to 64 age group.
What Caused the Fatalities?
The four most common causes of construction fatalities – notoriously referred to as the Fatal Four – caused 64.3% of all fatalities in the construction industry in 2019. They are falls, struck-by accidents, caught in/between and electrocution. The report showed that fatal falls to a lower level increased to 401 in 2019 and accounted for about 36.4% of all fatalities that year, a 25% increase compared to 2018.
Struck-by fatalities rose 7.6% and seven out of 10 caught-in/between fatalities involved workers being crushed in collapsing materials. In 2019, deadly falls from roofs totaled 146, marking a 28.1% increase over the previous year.
The Importance of Fall Protection
Contractors and construction companies are required under the law to maintain a workplace that prevents employees from falling off overhead platforms, elevated workstations or into holes in the floor. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) requires that fall protection be provided at elevations of 4 feet in general industry workplaces, 5 feet in shipyards, 6 feet in the construction industry and 8 feet in long-shoring operations.
In addition, OSHA requires that fall protection be provided when working over dangerous equipment and machinery, regardless of the fall distance. Construction companies and contractors must also take other steps to prevent workplace falls including guarding every floor hole through which workers can fall by using a railing and toe-board. They must also provide fall protection such as safety harnesses, safety nets, stair railing and handrails. They must keep floors in work areas clean and dry to prevent trip-and-fall or slip-and-fall accidents.
Seeking Compensation for Your Injuries
Workers could suffer a number of serious or even catastrophic accidents on dangerous construction sites. If you have been injured in a construction accident, you may be able to seek workers' compensation benefits from your employer. In addition, you may also be able to file a third-party lawsuit against a party other than your employer whose negligence caused your injuries. Examples of third parties include construction companies, general contractors, sub-contractors, property owners and/or managers, manufacturers of defective products and so on.
Please remember that such a personal injury or wrongful death lawsuit could be worth much more than workers' compensation benefits and will allow you to seek compensation for losses such as ongoing treatment and care, lost future income, loss of earning capacity, compensation for rehabilitation, and pain and suffering.
The experienced Los Angeles construction accident lawyers at Greenberg & Ruby LLP can help guide you through a complex claim process and help you secure maximum compensation for your losses. Call us to schedule your free consultation and comprehensive case evaluation.