Construction work is serious business in Houston as new high-rise office buildings, luxury apartments, and roads are being built every day all over the city. Construction work is hazardous, though, and places workers in dangerous situations that can be deadly. Construction workers are killed far too often in the United States. The Bureau of Labor Statistics reported that construction worksite fatalities are on the rise and reached a 12-year high in 2019. And, according to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), one in five work-related fatalities occurs in the construction industry. There are many ways a construction worker can be killed while on the job site; however, OSHA has determined that 60 percent of all construction worker fatalities can be attributed to four types of accidents. These “fatal four” accidents are known throughout the construction industry and include: electrocutions, falls, being struck by an object, and being caught between two objects. It is essential to understand what can cause these construction accidents to help reduce the number of Houston workers killed each year.
Slips, trips, and falls are the leading cause of construction worker deaths according to OSHA. Anything that would cause a construction worker to lose their balance is considered a fall hazard. Construction sites are full of these hazards that can include slippery surfaces, uneven ground, debris, unprotected roof edges, improperly constructed scaffolding, and unsafe portable ladders. Some falls may be considered minor and not cause serious injuries; however, if a construction worker falls off scaffolding or a roof, the accident can be deadly. To prevent these types of accidents, it is essential that all construction workers on a job site are trained in using safety equipment when on scaffolding, roof tops, and working at great heights. Personal protective equipment such as harnesses and other fall protection should be provided by employers to ensure worker safety.
Construction workers are required to work around live wires and strong electrical currents when building a new structure. There are many hazards associated with working around electric currents that can result in a variety of different construction accidents. Accidents involving electricity can range from burns to electric shock, fires, and even explosions – all of which can be deadly. OSHA specifically refers to electrocution as one of the fatal four which occurs when a worker is exposed to a deadly amount of electrical energy. A worker could be put into this type of scenario if they have been asked to move an aluminum ladder across a worksite and the ladder accidentally comes into contact with an overhead power line. Construction workers can also be electrocuted if they come into contact with damaged or bare wires or are using extension cords improperly. This sort of accident can be incredibly painful and if the construction worker survives, they could be permanently disabled and/or disfigured.
Being Caught in or Between an Object
When a construction worker is caught between two objects, they often suffer crushing injuries that can be deadly. These types of accidents occur when a worker’s clothing gets caught in machinery or equipment that pulls them in, or when there is an object that rolls, slides, or shifts on top of the worker. Cave-ins of unprotected excavation and trench sites, as well as collapsed scaffolding, can also cause crushing injuries. OSHA requires employers to provide guards on all equipment with moving parts and to take measures to prevent workers from being pinned between objects. This sort of accident can cause a seriously painful death that no worker should ever experience.
Being Struck by an Object
Construction sites are hazardous places that may have debris, equipment, or other objects falling, flying, swinging, or rolling around that can hit a construction worker. When working at great heights, a construction worker may have a heavy object dozens of feet in the air. If that object drops from that great height and strikes another worker, it can be deadly. For example, if a roofer has a bucket of bricks on a scaffold, and the bricks fall from the elevated surface and strike a worker below, the result may be a fatal injury. A worker could also be struck or run over by a moving vehicle and be killed on a job site. While on a work site, employers should require all workers to wear protective equipment, including protective eye wear and head gear, that complies with OSHA safety guidelines and will reduce the severity of any occupational accidents that could potentially occur.
Houston Construction Accident Attorneys
Employers have the responsibility to ensure their work sites are safe to prevent construction workers from being killed while simply doing their jobs. Even though these types of accidents are common and are known to be deadly, they still occur. Regardless of what type of construction is being done, all construction workers have the right to work in a safe environment. If you or someone you know has been injured or killed as a result of a construction accident, you could be entitled to financial compensation; however, there is limited time to act following a workplace accident in Texas. Contact the Houston construction accident attorneys at Dax F. Garza, P.C. today for a free and confidential consultation.