Any New York construction worker can tell you they have a dangerous job, and their anecdotes are backed up by statistics from the U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA).
According to OSHA, working in construction is one of the most dangerous careers in the country, where about one in every five workplace-related deaths occur. Furthermore, hundreds of construction workers are injured on the job each year, ranging from small injuries to catastrophic, life-changing handicaps.
It’s easy to understand why working on a construction site may be so dangerous. Construction zones are rife with sharp objects and heavy, dangerous machinery, from nail guns to excavators.
However, just because dangerous equipment is on a construction site doesn’t mean that workers should be expected to work under dangerous conditions. In fact, OSHA heavily regulates the construction industry, with standards for safety, equipment maintenance, and required safety gear.
Despite these heavy regulations, many construction companies may fall short of OSHA standards through negligence or oversight. This, in turn, creates conditions where construction site accidents and injuries are much more likely.
The Leading Causes of Construction Site Accidents
Although an accident can happen anywhere on a construction site, there are several circumstances where a worker is more likely to be injured.
Falls top the list of OSHA’s construction-related accident stats, part of the “Fatal Four” causes of injuries on a construction site. It’s also one of the most likely accidents to be fatal. Lack of safety restraints, other fall prevention equipment, faulty scaffolding, and dangerous ladders are common reasons workers fall.
Being caught between two objects is a scary and often serious construction accident. Its inclusion on the “Fatal Four” list involves victims being compressed by equipment or objects or by being struck, crushed, or caught in a collapse of material, equipment, or a structure.
These incidents can range from having a limb caught underneath a falling object to being pinned by a reversing vehicle such as a forklift.
Being struck by objects is another cause of injury. This includes accidents caused by falling objects that weren’t secured from a height to being hit by flying debris. Hardhats and safety goggles help protect workers from flying metal, wood, or concrete shards.
Construction companies must provide safety equipment and ensure that proper equipment guards are placed on saws, jackhammers, or other pieces of machinery.
Electrocution is the third-leading cause of death for construction workers on the job. OSHA has a “lock-out/ tag-out” regulation for safe repairs on electrical equipment, but failure to abide by these regulations can lead to a deadly accident.
Other causes of electrocution include faulty electrical components and wiring or a flawed electrical system design.
Vehicle collisions, especially on the highway, are among the chief causes of deadly accidents for construction workers. Traveling between job sites in heavy commercial vehicles can also be very dangerous.
Poor communication about potential hazards may be one of the most easily preventable construction accidents. Posting proper signage is one way to avoid this. Foremen are responsible for communicating to their workers when there is a potential danger on the job site.
Another cause of injury is inadequate respiratory protection. OSHA has standards for proper protective gear, especially when working around concrete dust, hazardous chemicals, or paint fumes.
Industrial truck accidents involving powered construction vehicles like forklifts cause serious injuries and death in an accident. There are a few especially dangerous situations, like when a lift truck is accidentally driven off a loading dock, falling between the dock and an unsecured trailer, or if a worker is struck by the truck.
Have you been injured in a construction site accident?
If you’ve been injured on a construction site through the negligence of another party, then you may have grounds to file a lawsuit for damages. Contact the Law Offices of James J. Corbett, a Long Island and New York construction litigation attorney, for a free consultation about your case.