Construction worksites are inherently dangerous and require constant awareness. There are numerous safety hazards lurking around every corner. Construction site safety is crucial to keeping workers safe while handling dangerous equipment and working in unsafe conditions. If construction companies practice dangerous habits while on the jobsite, serious and even fatal workplace accidents will happen.
Working On an Unsafe Worksite
Construction workers on an unsafe worksite are more likely to be involved in serious or fatal on-the-job accidents. An unsafe worksite may have electrical hazards, lack of fall prevention, trip hazards, slippery surfaces, tools that are not well maintained, or a variety of other safety concerns. All construction companies should have a safety program in place to protect their workers from harm. This may include specific operating protocols, keeping tools organized in a safe way, having certain safety equipment in place, and many other critical specifications.
It is the construction company’s responsibility to regularly evaluate a jobsite for safety issues, especially in areas the business knows are the most prone to issues.
Common Construction Practices Leading to Injuries
Working in the construction industry is one of the most dangerous jobs. The construction industry accounts for one-fifth of all work-related deaths in the United States, according to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA). Construction companies and contractors frequently fail to meet their obligations to their employees, failing to provide necessary safety gear, training, and other protective measures to prevent workplace injuries and fatalities.
There are many hazards on construction sites, but OSHA has named four issues that tend to yield the most construction injuries. The four top causes of construction injuries include:
- Falling off of high objects – not having perimeter protection and not wearing fall arrest equipment commonly leads to workers falling off of high worksites.
- Being struck by objects – where objects are not properly secured or when workers are forced to work in precarious positions, it can lead to them being struck by heavy construction site objects.
- Being crushed or caught in-between objects – many times, trenches or excavation ditches are left unmarked or unprotected, which causes workers to become pinned in these areas and unable to get out.
- Electrocutions – worksites have many live wires, and if the wires are not properly marked and identified, workers can fail to realize that a wire is live, which can lead to electrocution injuries.
Other common practices that lead to injuries on a construction site include not having enough men to work each area and having workers who are not trained working where they would not normally work. In addition, each jobsite should have proper safety gear for every worker.
Types of Construction Injuries
Situations like falling, being struck by an object, being crushed, or being electrocuted can lead to a number of different injuries. Not all situations result in the same injury, which is why safety practice and prevention are key.
Injuries on construction sites can be something as mild as some cuts and bruises or more serious like back and neck injuries that could lead to paralysis. One of the most common injuries on a construction site is repetitive injuries from heavy lifting and using the same tools and motion every day.
Other common construction site injuries in addition to strain include:
- Broken and fractured bones
- Spinal cord injuries
- Back and neck injuries
- Chemical burns
- Eye injuries
- Head injuries
Many of these injuries can be severe and require medical attention and time off work. The severity of the injury does not always correspond to the cost associated with the injury or what damages can be collected from a claim.
Three Common Construction Industry Dangerous Habits
Not Providing Personal Protective Equipment
Workplace dangers begin when workers cannot wear the appropriate personal protective equipment because their company has not provided it. A worker is risking their own safety and well-being when they are unable to wear the correct gloves, boots, helmet, respirators, or other protective gear mandated to keep them safe while working. If the company has not provided the appropriate personal protective equipment or training on how to use the equipment, they are putting their own workers at risk for serious injury.
Lack of Situational Awareness
When working on a construction site, there will be many different people using a variety of large equipment. A worker may think that since they have used a certain machine dozens of times or driven a specific worksite vehicle on a daily basis that they do not need to worry about what is going on around them. This dangerous habit can easily get someone seriously injured or killed. Construction workers must be aware of who is around in all directions when using large, dangerous machinery or driving a construction vehicle. They should also perform all safety checks each time they get into a vehicle or use a piece of machinery. Each person must be aware of and respect the power behind the equipment they are using, or workplace accidents will occur.
Bad Health Habits
Workers may engage in risky behaviors common to the construction industry that can lead to on-the-job accidents. If your coworkers or workers from another company working on your jobsite are smoking cigarettes, chewing tobacco, binge drinking, and more, this can decrease their situational awareness, increase the likelihood of them injuring themselves or others while on the job, and increase the severity of an injury if an accident occurs.
Statistics on Construction Site Injuries
According to the CDC, there are over 11 million U.S. citizens employed in the construction industry. This rate has grown over 25 percent in the last 10 years. Within the industry, falls account for 36.4 percent of all injuries, followed by 15 percent caused by struck-by incidents, seven percent of injuries via electrocution, and 5.4 percent of injuries due to being caught in-between.
The National Safety Stand-Down to Prevent Falls in Construction, which takes place from May 2 to May 6, focuses on possible hazards and fall prevention in the construction industry. In the most recently reported year, the construction industry accounted for 50 percent of all fatal falls, slips, and trips across all professions.
In the same reported year, the construction industry accounted for more than one-fifth of all workplace fatalities. A little more than one-third of these deaths were caused almost entirely by falls to a lower level.
Construction Workers’ Rights After Injury
Construction workers have rights outside of workers’ compensation claims after an injury. In addition to filing a claim with the employer (or against the employer directly if they are a workers’ comp nonsubscriber), many injured workers can file a lawsuit against a “third party,” such as a general contractor, property owner, or maintenance company. Injured construction workers can be compensated for their pain and suffering, medical bills, and lost income, among other financial damages.
If a construction worker was injured on a worksite due to the negligence of a third party, they have the right to sue and recover damages for their pain and suffering, loss of enjoyment of life, future medical treatment costs, and a full accounting of lost wages including future lost wages. The first and most important step is to consult with a personal injury lawyer after the construction accident.
Working with an experienced workplace injury lawyer to file a lawsuit against the responsible party or parties will ensure that the injured individual and their affected family members can focus on their health while remaining financially secure. In many cases, those injured on the job have been fairly and justly awarded both economic and non-economic damages.
Houston Work Accident Attorney
Construction workers deserve to be safe while working on a construction site. If you or a loved one was seriously injured or killed in a Houston, Texas work-related accident, you may be entitled to financial compensation. There is limited time to act following a workplace injury incident, so contact our construction accident lawyer at Dax F. Garza, P.C. to discuss your case at no charge. We can explain your legal rights and pursue financial compensation on your behalf.