What Are Some Construction Site Accident Examples?

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Construction is one of the most dangerous industries in America with construction works accounting for roughly one out of every five workplace fatalities. When employers fail to follow federal and state safety regulations or fail to implement proper safety programs, construction workers are put in even more danger.

What are the Main Causes of Accidents in Construction?

The “Fatal Four” causes of construction accidents — falls, struck by an object, electrocutions, and caught-in/between — accounted for 64.2 percent of all construction industry fatal injuries in 2015. Eliminating the “Fatal Four” would save approximately 602 workers’ lives every year.

  • Falls  The leading cause of fatalities in the construction industry, falls claim the lives of 362 workers on average each year. Hazards that cause the most fall-related injuries and deaths include:
    • Unprotected sides, wall openings, and floor holes
      • Many work sites have unprotected sides, edges, and uncovered holes in the floor and wall at some point during construction. Unprotected openings can cause injuries due to falls and falling objects.
    • Improper scaffold construction
      • When heavy equipment and building materials are present on a scaffold with limited space, falls can occur. Without properly installed guardrail systems or the use of fall protection, serious injuries and death can be a result of a fall.
    • Unguarded exposed steel rebars
      • Protruding steel reinforcing bars are extremely hazardous. Stumbling onto an unprotected/unguarded steel rebar can cause impalement, serious injuries, and death.
    • Misuse of portable ladders
      • Ladders that are positioned improperly create a big fall risk. If a ladder is on uneven ground, is unsteady, or defective, falls can cause injuries or death.
  • Struck-by — These injuries can be caused by vehicles, falling objects, or in the process of building walls. In 2015, 83 construction workers were killed after being struck by a non-vehicle object.
    • Vehicles
      • Approximately 75 percent of struck-by fatalities involve heavy equipment such as trucks or cranes
    • Falling or flying objects
      • Objects can fall from construction machinery, scaffolding, or anywhere that overhead work is happening.
    • Falling masonry walls
      • Most incidents occur when jacks or lifting equipment are used to position slabs and walls, or when shoring is required until structures can support themselves
  • Electrocutions — In 2015, there were 81 electrocution deaths in the construction industry. Electrocutions can be caused by several different accidents, including:
    • Contact with power lines
      • Fatal electrocution is the main risk, but burns and falls from elevations are also hazards.
    • Issues with ground-fault protection
      • This can cause electrical burns, explosions, fire, or death.
    • Improper use of equipment
      • Human error can cause severe injury or death.
  • Caught in-between (Trenching)  In 2015, 67 deaths in the construction industry were a result of a caught-in or caught-between, trenching, or excavation injury. Lack of oxygen or exposure to harmful chemicals can be deadly in some instances. Causes of these injuries include:
    • No protective system
    • Failure to inspect trench and protective systems
    • Unsafe spoil-pile placement
    • Unsafe access/egress

Top Ten Most Frequently Cite OSHA Violations

Every year, OSHA releases the top ten most frequently cited safety and health violations from across the country. Approximately 32,000 workplace inspections take place each year, and the top ten list of violations rarely change.

  1. Fall protection
  2. Hazard communication
  3. Scaffolds
  4. Respiratory protection
  5. Lockout/tagout (Proper lockout and tagout procedures can protect workers from unexpected machinery startups or release of stored energy)
  6. Powered industrial trucks
  7. Ladders
  8. Machine guarding
  9. Electrical wiring
  10. Electrical, general requirements

Other causes of construction accidents and injuries include:

  • Unsafe working conditions
    • Safety code violations
    • OSHA violations
    • Improper site design or inspection
  • Dangerous work areas
    • Roadway safety defects
    • Faulty stairs
    • Ceiling tile failures and wall tile failures
  • Explosions
  • Defective equipment
    • Anchor bolt failures
    • Defective power tools
    • Improperly stored materials

How Do I Determine Who Is At-Fault for My Construction Injury?

Generally, a construction site will have several different contractors and employers on site at any given time. Because of this, it can sometimes be difficult to determine who is liable for your injuries. This is why it is a good idea to get in contact with an experienced construction accident attorney. Not only can an attorney help identify all the entities responsible for you accident and injuries, they can also help you recover compensation from the entities even if your employer has already begun paying out workers’ compensation.

Some instances in which liability may go beyond your employer are:

  • A commercial vehicle operator striking scaffolding, causing fall injuries.
  • Electrocution that occurred at an apartment complex with poorly maintained wires.
  • Injuries caused by a construction worker being exposed to asbestos at a job site.
  • Injuries caused by a defective piece of machinery or equipment.
  • Injuries caused by a co-worker who acted negligently while under the influence of a narcotic or alcohol.

What Should I Do if I’ve Been Injured in a Construction Accident?

If you have been injured in a workplace accident, there are a few things you can do to help secure workplace compensation as well as strengthen any claim to additional recoveries you may have.

  1. Seek medical attention. First and foremost, you should seek treatment for you injuries. Understanding the extent of you injuries is not only important to making a full recovery, but will also help you gauge how much that recovery is going to cost you. If you do not feel completely comfortable with the company doctor, go to your own physician for a second opinion.
  2. Report your injury. Workplace injuries need to be reported in a timely manner. Also, keep you supervisor or manager up-to-date on any subsequent developments. If your doctor has diagnosed an injury that was not immediately evident at the time of your initial report, let your supervisor know.
  3. Get a written repot of the accident. Your employer must take a report of the accident. You are entitled to a copy as well. Do not let your employer deny you a physical copy of your report for your own records.
  4. Identify witnesses. If someone witnessed your accident, get their information. You may need to refer back to their account of the incident later.
  5. Take photos. Take photos of the area, including any tools or equipment that may have played a role in the accident.
  6. Write an account. You will likely be asked to make statements about you claim multiple times. Having a detailed account that was written while the accident was still fresh in your mind can help keep your statements concise and accurate.
  7. Contact an attorney. Even if you plan on going through workers’ compensation, contacting an experienced attorney can help ensure you are receiving a fair amount. Thomas J. Henry offers free consultations to all injured victims. Our attorneys are available 24/7 – seven days a week.

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