According to the US National Library of Medicine, the construction industry ranks at number two in the United States for fatal injuries in workers younger than the age of 18. With one in ten workers becoming injured every year, these numbers are of no surprise. The world of construction, even when taking safety precautions, can still be a dangerous one.
OSHA, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, has a set of regulations and protocols for the industry and all who work under it. According to OSHA, the number one most-violated OSHA standard is fall protection. Falls are also the most common cause of fatalities for construction workers each year. These falls often occur from unprotected sides on job sites, holes in floors, misuse of ladders, wall openings, and improper scaffolding construction.
Construction is a necessary part of life, especially as it pertains to growing sustainable cities. It is important to know the risks and laws of the industry, and what the best practices to take to avoid injury. If you or a loved one does happen to become injured, knowing your legal rights in the workplace is essential.
According to The Bureau of Labor Statistics, there were a total of 5,190 fatal work injuries recorded in the United States in 2016. This is a 7-percent increase from the 4,836 fatal injuries reported in 2015, and the third annual increase that this statistic area has had, showing that occupational hazards are a growing problem within the United States. Fall, slip and trip deaths increased 6 percent, totaling at 849 deaths. This statistic backs up the claim that falls are the most common cause of injury and death in the construction industry.
1 in 5 workplace deaths occurs in the construction industry. This is the highest rate out of all of the other industries in the United States. Who is the most at-risk? The following construction workers are the most at-risk of injury each year:
The ten most cited violations as stated by the Occupational Safety and Health Association:
Numerous repercussions can occur as a result of violating safety regulations. While some injuries can be more severe than others, it is important to know the risks and abide by all safety codes to avoid injury or death.
Possible injuries that can occur from accidents in the construction industry are:
Falls are the most common cause of all of the injuries stated above. However, there are three other types of accidents that occur each year, and more often than not, result in fatalities.
With more construction and development increasing across the nation, there is no surprise that the rate of fatalities has also risen. While the construction industry has pledged to abide by the standards of OSHA, there are still hazards that occur while on the job.
The physical hazards are a bit obvious, such as falls, stepping on nails, getting hit with objects, and so on. However, there are other hazards that are not-so-obvious that need to be considered by workers and their supervisors.
Depending on the location or time of year, weather can have a significant impact on the workers; and, depending on the severity of the weather, it can result in injury or death. If the worker if in harsh conditions, such as excessive heat, are being overexerted, and not staying properly hydrated, the consequences could be severe. Injury and illness such as heat stroke, heat exhaustion, and heat cramps can occur.
Vehicle accidents in construction are all too common. Because of this, it is important to be extremely cautious while operating motor vehicles or equipment on all job sites. To abide by regulations, a construction vehicle should have a service brake system, emergency brake system, and a parking brake system. All vehicles must be equipped with an audible warning system as to alert others in the area when a vehicle is backing up or stopping.
To increase safety and prevent accidental falls, the vehicles must have windows, and doors, power windshield wipers, and a clear view of job site from the rear window. Most importantly, all employees should be properly trained and certified before using motor vehicles and their equipment. This will help to keep them and others as safe as possible.
All who are involved in construction must become educated in all relevant areas of their work. This is the first step to preventing death and injury. Site managers and their employees must be aware of the dangers they could face day-to-day and know the best way to respond when faced with a hazard.
On top of education, site preparation aids in preventing injury and death on construction sites. This type of preparation includes removing debris, leveling the ground, filling all open holes, cutting tree roots, removing large rocks, and marking gas, water, and electric pipelines. Another prevention method is to provide a scaffold that is rigid and sturdy enough to carry its own weight without movement or displacement.
Some ways to prevent injuries and improve safety include:
According to the Colorado Department of Public Health, Colorado experienced an increase in construction-related fatalities in 2015, with a total of 21 deaths. This number rose from 13 in 2014, making it a 62 percent increase. This has been the highest total that the state has seen since 2008. Many of these deaths were a result of falls, slips, and trips.
Dangerous tasks are common in the construction workplace. Taking that into consideration, it is important to know your rights and be aware of Workers’ Compensation. Workers’ compensation is a form of insurance that provides wage replacement and medical benefits to employees injured while on the job. In the state of Colorado, all public and private employers must provide workers’ compensation coverage for their employees if their team consists of one or more full-or part-time individuals.
When it comes to construction injuries, there are a lot of people and entities that could be liable for the accident. This includes the construction site owner, any contractor on the project, engineers, and architects, or the manufacturers of the equipment that caused the injury.
If you or a loved one has been injured in a construction accident, it is important to seek medical attention as soon as possible. Report this injury to your site manager, and be sure to provide any evidence when making a claim (i.e., medical examination records, witnesses to the accident, photographs of the hazardous conditions, etc.) Lastly, contact a responsible attorney to walk you through your legal options.
Zaner Harden Law offers confidential, complimentary consultations for anyone who has experienced construction-related injuries. If you or your loved one has been injured, call our offices today to ask a question, or schedule your meeting with a Colorado Construction Injury Attorney.