About one in five fatal injuries suffered by workers in the United States in 2016 occurred in the construction industry, according to OSHA statistics. What OSHA has called the “Fatal Four” injuries accounted for nearly three out of five of those injuries. The four fatal injuries include:
- Blunt force trauma.
Eliminating the “Fatal Four” injuries would save more than 600 lives each year. The following sections discuss each of the “four fatalities” and a series of steps to be taken to prevent injuries to construction workers. When these steps are not taken and an injury occurs, the injured party often has a good case for an injury claim.
Falls account for approximately 35% of construction worker deaths each year. Falls come in a variety of forms, but some of the most common examples include:
Falls to lower levels in partially completed buildings from or due to scaffold collapse, slips, and trips.
THE MOST COMMON CAUSES OF FALLS INCLUDE:
- Slippery, crowded, or unstable surfaces for walking and/or working.
- Unprotected edges.
- Holes in the floor and openings in the walls.
- Dangerous ladders positioned.
- Improperly used fall protection.
Many construction workers are exposed to the danger of electrocution. Although electricians are more prone to danger, exposed wiring and faulty connections lead to a hazard for anyone working on a construction site. Electrocutions account for 10% of workplace deaths in the construction industry.
INJURIES CAUSED BY ELECTRICITY FALL INTO FOUR CATEGORIES:
- Electrocutions (fatal).
- Electrical discharges.
- Falls caused by contact with electricity.
Contact with a current of only 20 milliamps can be fatal. The maximum amount the average person can take and release is 16 milliamps. Cardiac arrest and damage to an internal organ is likely to occur with a load of 2 amps or more. A significantly underestimated risk of electrical damage in construction is the danger posed by overhead power lines. The use of cranes and metal ladders near overhead wires often causes injuries to workers, often simply because workers forget that the lines are there.
BLUNT FORCE TRAUMA
This category of accidents accounts for 8% of construction worker deaths. The most frequently cited injury in this category is that workers are hit by cars or machinery.
As a result, OSHA and other organizations have promulgated safety standards for the movement of vehicles on construction sites. In general terms, the driver of a vehicle must always drive a course of the vehicle before moving it. Sometimes, it is also necessary for the driver to use an observer, especially when backing up.
Other objects that pose a hazard to construction workers include objects that move with cranes; bricks, tools and other items stored on the upper floors of buildings under construction; and falling ladders and scaffolds.
This category of incidents accounts for 4% of construction injury deaths. Common causes of injuries due to crushing include:
- Collapse of ditches or excavations.
- Rotary equipment.
- Unprotected parts.
- Overturning of equipment.
- Maintenance Operations.
- Rigging Accidents.
OSHA enacts regulations governing safety precautions to avoid injuries. In some cases, multiple regulations are violated in one incident.
CONSTRUCTION INJURY CLAIMS RESULTING FROM CONSTRUCTION INJURIES
A variety of safety precautions are available to employers so that they can reduce the risk of injury as a result of falls. OSHA and other organizations promulgate safety standards. If an employer or construction site owner ignores or adheres to these safety standards, it is a factor in assessing legal liability for injuries caused by construction accidents. This is true not only for the “four fatalities” discussed here, but to and any kind of mishap in a construction project.
Construction injuries commonly result in lawsuits. But a complex web of problems, including workers’ compensation and the relationship between contractor and subcontractor, can make the legal landscape difficult to navigate. Therefore, injured workers should consider consulting a local attorney with experience in construction law.