Stephen Hasner | Workplace Accidents | November 13, 2019
The construction industry is incredibly important to our economy and overall infrastructure. At the same time, working in this field can be incredibly hazardous. In fact, construction is one of the most dangerous industries to work in today. This is because the job often involves a lot of heavy equipment use, working at heights, and the use of electricity.
Now, according to the federal Occupational Safety and Health Administration (“OSHA”), construction industries account for over 20% of all worker fatalities. If you are injured while working construction, workers’ compensation may provide benefits that can help you recover and get back on the job.
Fatal Four Construction Accidents
Based on data from OSHA, most construction accidents that lead to death have a relatively small number of causes. In fact, over half of the construction fatalities were caused by the following four types of injuries:
Falls account for 39.2% of the reported fatalities. This includes:
- Falls on the same level, either due to tripping while climbing stairs or curbs, tripping over an object, falling while sitting, or tripping over oneself.
- Falls to a lower level, including falling from a collapsing structure or equipment, falling off a stable object, and falling through a surface or an existing opening.
Being struck by an object cause 8.2% of construction fatalities. This includes:
- Falling debris
- Tools, and
- Other objects, often occurring on worksites with multiple levels.
Electrocutions cause 7.3% of fatalities, including:
- Direct exposure to electricity, and
- Indirect exposure to electrical currents (such as touching water, pipes, etc. that are unintentionally conducting electricity).
Caught-in/between account for 5.1% of fatalities. This includes:
- Being compressed or caught-in between equipment or objects, and
- Being crushed or struck by collapsing equipment or a structure.
These are not the only causes of construction accidents. They’re simply the cause of most fatal construction site injuries.
Most Common Safety Violations
Note that OSHA provides safety standards for employers operating in the construction industries. When companies fail to implement and follow these standards, accidents are more likely to happen. One of the most commonly cited safety problems is inadequate fall protection. Another safety issue is the failure to follow requirements for scaffolding. These account for the large number of falling accidents.
Employers are also commonly cited for failure to adequately train employees on fall hazards. This would include education around ladder safety and roof hazards. It might also involve scaffolding use and design training. Training would also include information regarding steps a worker can take to minimize these risks. Examples would be body harnesses and safety nets.
Another example that often leads to an OSHA citation is failure to label hazardous materials. Businesses also get cited for not providing necessary respiratory or eye and face protection. Inadequate machine guarding is also an issue.
Most Common Injuries
Now, not all construction injuries result in death. However, there are many other types of serious injuries that can occur on a job site. The most common injuries seen in construction are:
- Strains and tears, and
Note that these types of injuries can happen in the course of any physically demanding work. At a construction site, this might include lifting and moving heavy equipment, using heavy machinery, etc.
Workers’ Compensation for Construction Industry Accidents
Fortunately, most construction workers have options when they are injured on the job in Georgia. One option is workers’ compensation, which most employers in the state are required to carry. Workers’ comp is a type of insurance that provides benefits to employees hurt while working.
Now, workers’ comp is considered no-fault. This means that it doesn’t matter if the accident was due to your own negligence. However, there are exceptions in cases where you either intentionally harmed yourself or were working while intoxicated.
Workers’ comp provides a number of benefits for those that qualify. One benefit is the payment of your medical bills. The program also covers rehabilitation costs and income during the period when you are unable to work. Further, if your loved one died in a construction accident, you may be entitled to death benefits. This would include amounts to cover funeral expenses as well as lost income paid to dependents to account for the wages the worker would have made.
However, it’s important to note that workers’ comp only applies to employees and not independent contractors. If you are an independent contractor, you are legally self-employed and not covered by this type of insurance.
Depending on the nature of your injury, workers’ comp cases can get complicated. For that reason, it can be helpful to reach out to a qualified attorney to help ensure that you receive your benefits.