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Construction Accidents

ADVOCATES FOR INJURED CONSTRUCTION WORKERS

Construction is one of the most dangerous jobs in America. According to the U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), one out of every five workplace fatalities is a construction worker. Because of the dangerous nature of the job, injuries are oftentimes serious and life-threatening.

When employers fail to follow worker safety regulations and implement proper safety programs, construction workers are put in danger. Thousands of workers in the construction industry suffer from serious injuries due to the negligence of construction companies. Many workers that have suffered life-changing injuries could be living normal lives if employers put their safety and well-being before profit.

TEXAS NAMED DEADLIEST STATE FOR CONSTRUCTION WORKERS

To date, Texas remains the most deadly state for construction workers.  In fact, Texas’ construction sites are estimated to be 22% deadlier than the national average.

The Dallas Morning News reports that a total of 4,593 construction worker deaths occurred between 2003 and 2012 — 580 more deaths than expected. Of those excess deaths, 40% were among specialty trade contractors such as roofers and electricians.

By comparison, California, which has a larger construction work force than Texas, experienced 1,204 fewer construction-related deaths than expected over the same time period.

CONSTRUCTION ACCIDENT STATISTICS

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) and the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), in 2015,

  • 937 workers in the private construction industry were killed on the job
    • This is the highest total since 975 workers died in 2008
  • About one in five (21%) worker deaths in 2015 were in construction
  • An estimated 204,700 workers in the private construction industry were injured on the job in 2015
  • The leading causes of private sector worker deaths in the construction industry (excluding highway collisions) were falls, struck by object, electrocution, and caught in/between. The “Fatal Four” account for 64.2 percent of all fatalities in the construction industry
    • Falls — 364 deaths (38.8% of total construction deaths)
    • Struck by object — 90 deaths (9.6%)
    • Electrocutions — 81 deaths (8.6%)
    • Caught-in/between — 67 deaths (7.2%)
  • Eliminating the “Fatal Four” would save 602 workers’ lives every year
  • 210 contracted workers in the private construction industry died on the job
  • These states led the United States in construction worker deaths in 2015
    • Texas — 124
    • California — 75
    • Florida — 66
    • New York — 53
    • Georgia — 38
    • Illinois — 38

COMMON CAUSES OF CONSTRUCTION ACCIDENTS

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 cuase 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 impalation, 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 CITED OSHA VIOLATIONS

Every year, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (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

  • 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

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