Construction is one of the deadliest industries in the United States. Construction sites have many elements that make them dangerous for both workers and the public. Working from heights, using power tools and operating heavy machinery are just a few examples of the dangers faced at the average construction site. Learn the top causes of serious and fatal accidents in construction to help avoid these disasters.
Lack of Fall Protection
In 2020, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) reported that 976 workplace deaths occurred in construction and extraction occupations. This represented 20.5 percent of the 4,764 total worker deaths that were reported in 2020. Sadly, this is not unusual; construction deaths typically account for around 20 percent of all worker deaths in the U.S., or 1 in 5 fatalities.
The majority of serious and fatal injuries at construction sites are fall-related. According to OSHA, the number one most frequently cited safety standard in fiscal year 2021 was “fall protection in construction.” Federal Standard Number 1926.501 states that employers have a duty to provide fall protection systems. The correct system to use depends on the situation, such as the height of the worker and the type of walking or working surfaces. Acceptable fall protection includes personal fall arrest systems, safety net systems and guardrails.
The second most frequently cited safety standard in construction was the regulation of ladders. Dangerous, defective, broken and old ladders are responsible for many worker falls, injuries and deaths at construction sites each year. The misuse of ladders is also responsible for many worker falls. Employers are required to provide and maintain reasonably safe ladders for use at construction sites. They also have a responsibility to train workers in how to safely and correctly use the ladders, such as how to set them up and carry up loads.
Poorly Constructed Scaffolds
Yet another common cause of fall accidents on construction sites is dangerous scaffolding. Violating the general scaffold requirements was the third most commonly cited safety standard in construction, according to OSHA. Scaffolding refers to the structures that construction workers stand on to reach tall heights on a job. The workers are responsible for correctly building and securing scaffolds and scaffolding building materials. Lack of worker training, hastily constructed scaffolds, lack of scaffold inspections, violated safety regulations or low-quality materials could all lead to deadly fall accidents or dropped materials.
Being struck by a falling object is another top cause of accidents, injuries and deaths on construction sites. Unsecured tools or materials could fall from scaffolds, or workers and pedestrians could get trapped in collapsing structures. Other struck-by-object incidents involve heavy machinery or equipment, such as a crane collapsing and crushing the workers below.
Exposure to Electrical Hazards
Construction sites often contain many electrical hazards, such as exposed wires and live powerlines. Workers could suffer electric shocks, electrical burns and electrocutions if the electrical hazard is not properly marked or communicated on the job. A construction worker may unknowingly drive a crane into a live electrical wire, for example, if he or she is not made aware of this electrified power source on the job site.
Missing Machine Guarding
According to data from OSHA, the “Focus Four” in construction – the top four causes of worker deaths in this industry – are falls, struck-by falling objects, electrocutions, and caught in or between objects or equipment. Missing machine guarding is one of the top causes of the last construction site hazard on the Focus Four list.
If a piece of equipment or machinery is missing its safety guard, a worker could be pulled into the machine. This could lead to catastrophic injuries such as a limb getting crushed or amputated. Proper machine maintenance and adequate worker training can help prevent these disasters.
Injured at a Construction Site? We Can Help
If you or a loved one has been injured in an accident at a construction site in West Virginia, you may be eligible for financial compensation as a worker or member of the public. Contact our West Virginia construction accident attorneys at Manchin Injury Law Group to discuss your case for free.