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Working in the construction industry is one of the most physically demanding careers a worker could have. In addition to this, construction workers must also interact with and operate heavy machinery and sophisticated equipment to complete daily tasks. Given the nature of this work, it, unfortunately, does not come as a surprise that according to the U.S. Department of Labor the construction industry suffers the most employee fatalities of any other industry. In addition to fatalities, there are thousands of construction injuries each year.  Whether working construction in a residential, commercial, or industrial capacity, the work can be incredibly dangerous. Construction workers need safety training and safety equipment to help keep them safe on the job. They also rely on employers to abide by local, state, and federal safety guidelines. Unfortunately, this doesn’t always happen.

Common Causes of Construction Accidents 

The federal Occupational Safety & Health Administration (OSHA) published a study on the “fatal four” in construction, concerning the top four deadliest causes of workplace injuries and fatalities in the industry. The study reflected widespread negligence by employers and other companies involved in the construction industry resulting in thousands of preventable deaths. The study found that if the construction industry implemented federal safety guidelines that address the fatal four, an average of 591 workers’ lives across the country could be saved every year. The four most common causes of catastrophic construction accidents are:

Fall hazards pose the greatest threat to construction workers. According to OSHA, falls resulted in 33.5% of all construction accident-related fatalities in 2018. Serious injuries and death can occur at any height and for a variety of reasons. Construction workers often perform their work at elevated heights. Even at minimal heights, workers rely on safety reinforcements to ensure their wellbeing. This means that securing scaffolding, providing adequate railing, and safeguarding all machines and equipment employees could potentially fall into are critical. Businesses who fail to routinely inspect equipment and/or fail to implement routine and quality maintenance knowingly put construction workers at risk.

Being struck by an object accounted for 11% of construction fatalities in 2018 alone. Construction workers are surrounded by heavy equipment and building materials every day. When considering how often equipment and materials are transported throughout a construction site daily, the risk of workers coming into contact with a falling object, loose materials, and/or equipment is apparent. Jobsite owners and operators have a duty to provide workers with equipment that is able to safely transport materials as well as proper barriers to prevent workers from coming into contact with tools, debris, and other hazardous materials.

Electrocution accidents caused 8.5% of 2018 construction fatalities. Electrocution injuries and fatalities can occur if employees come into with live wires like power lines or a live wire that has come in contact with water. Construction sites often have multiple parties working to complete a task. Without proper planning and safety inspection, workers can come into contact with live wires that should have been diverted or temporarily shut off. Additionally, insufficient electrical and safety training provided to workers contributes to electrocutions that seriously injure and kill workers each year.

When workers are caught in between objects, work vehicles, or equipment, they can sustain catastrophic crush injuries. Construction worksites are riddled with equipment, heavy machinery, motor vehicles, and debris that can quickly engulf a vulnerable worker. All heavy machinery and equipment should be properly guarded so workers are not at risk of becoming trapped or pinned. This same safety rationale can and should also be applied to structures such as mines and ditches that require quality reinforcement and routine inspection.

Employers who fail to meet OSHA and other safety standards put their workers in danger and are liable for the damages caused by their corporate negligence. Construction injuries often have long recovery times and come with the huge financial impact of medical bills, rehabilitation, and lost wages.

Common Construction Accident Injuries

Employers who fail to meet OSHA and other safety standards put their workers in danger and are liable for the damages caused by their corporate negligence. Construction injuries often have long recovery times and come with the huge financial impact of medical bills, rehabilitation, and lost wages. The most common injuries suffered by construction workers include but are not limited to:

Head injuries and traumatic brain injuries

Many head injuries occur after a construction worker falls or a piece of heavy equipment falls on them. These types of injuries can be incredibly traumatic and require surgery and rehabilitation. If a tool is left carelessly on the edge of scaffolding, it can easily drop and hit someone on the ground. Construction tools are often incredibly heavy and if they hit an individual in the wrong spot, could even be deadly. Construction sites are also full of slippery surfaces and uneven ground, including cables and wiring strewn about. These all increase the likelihood of a worker tripping, slipping, and falling. Falls are the leading cause of work-related deaths in the construction industry and account for more than one-third of all workplace fatalities.

Spinal cord injuries and paralysis

Slips, trips, and falls can also cause serious spinal cord injuries and even paralysis. If a construction worker falls from a great height or slips on a hard surface, they may land in a position that permanently damages their spinal cord and causes paralysis of part of, if not their entire body. These types of injuries are incredibly severe and require immediate emergency treatment in order to minimize the severity of the damage resulting from the injury. To keep construction workers safe, employers must minimize slipping and tripping hazards on the job site.

Broken bones and fractures

One of the first types of injury someone thinks of when it comes to construction is a broken bone or fracture, as many construction accidents involve them. These injuries may range from minor to serious and can require treatments ranging from rest to major surgery. Construction workers who have suffered from broken bones or fractures on the job may be left with chronic pain and/or partial paralysis depending on a variety of factors. Broken bones and fractures can occur in many ways on a construction site, including falls, being struck by a piece of equipment, impact injuries, and more.

Burns

Many construction sites utilize fire and electricity to perform their jobs and construct specific types of structures. Chemicals are also used in construction that can be harmful to workers working with them or even near them. Many construction workers are burned by fire, electricity, and/or chemicals while working. Burns can be incredibly painful and require immediate treatment. Some burns can only be repaired with extensive surgery involving skin grafting. These sorts of catastrophic personal injuries can leave a worker permanently disfigured and facing thousands of dollars in medical treatment.

Electrocutions

Construction workers suffer from electrocution at a greater rate than those working in any other industry in the United States. When working around live electrical wires, generators, and exposed power lines, it is easy to see just how quickly a construction worker may be electrocuted. Electrocutions can cause serious nerve damage, burns, cardiac arrest, and even death. If sources of electricity are not properly maintained and kept safe, a construction worker can quickly lose their life.

Amputation

When working on a construction site, there are many tools and pieces of heavy machinery that have the potential to instantly sever a limb. Industrial machinery is required to have safety guards; however, if a machine is malfunctioning or its safety guards are not working properly, a construction worker can quickly lose a limb or digit. An amputation injury leaves a worker potentially disabled for life and could threaten their ability to work in the future. Amputations are also incredibly traumatizing and a construction worker may suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder after the devastation of the experience and due to the massive changes required for everyday living.

When construction injuries happen, it is commonplace for liable parties, including employers, to deny culpability, offer a low settlement, or refuse to cooperate at all. This leaves victims and their loved ones to pick up the pieces and face the long road of recovery without assistance or justice.

Houston Construction Injury Lawyer

Regardless of occupation, all workers have a right to a safe work environment free of any dangers. When employers fail to provide an environment in compliance with local and federal safety standards, workers are at immediate risk for life-altering injuries or worse, death. If you or someone you know has been injured or killed as a result of a construction accident, you could be entitled to compensation; however, there is limited time to act following a work accident in Texas. Contact the Houston construction accident attorneys at Dax F. Garza, P.C. today for a free and confidential case consultation.

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