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What Are the Top 9 Causes of Accidents in Construction?

While accidents and injuries can happen in any job, construction sites are generally more dangerous than other workplaces. Exhaustion and long hours can contribute to hazardous working conditions, making accidents and injuries more likely.  

Developers often look to save time and money when completing expensive construction projects. However, when employers fail to implement the required safety measures or neglect to supply the necessary equipment to protect workers, they put their employees at risk of injury and death.

Morgan & Morgan thinks no developer or contractor should get away with putting profits before worker safety. We fight for America’s injured workers and do not shy away from holding influential developers and contractors accountable. If you were hurt on a construction site, or a loved one passed away due to a construction accident, our attorneys want to help. Contact us today to learn about your legal options.

The 9 Most Common Causes for Construction Accidents

According to the Occupational Health and Safety Administration (OSHA), almost 5,000 workers died from occupational injuries in 2020. Workers in transportation and construction accounted for nearly half of those fatalities. The agency identified the following four main dangers to workers’ lives:

  • Slips or trips and falls
  • Getting caught between machinery or objects
  • Getting struck by objects
  • Electrocutions

Read on to discover the nine most common causes of accidents in the construction industry.

1. Slips and Falls

According to OSHA, falls are the number one cause of workers’ deaths in the construction industry, with 351 workers killed in falls in 2020 alone. Falls from heights, such as ladders, roofs, and scaffolds, can cause permanent injuries.

OSHA says that most falls on construction sites are preventable. Employers are responsible for ensuring a safe work environment and preventing unsafe conditions, such as:

  • Unsafe or unmarked trenches and excavations
  • Defective or wrongly constructed scaffolding
  • Cluttered stairs and walkways
  • Defective equipment and machinery

2. Caught in or Between

Accidents where workers are caught in or caught between can happen in a split second and without warning. Examples of such accidents can include, among others:

  • Getting trapped in a trench or excavation cave-in
  • Equipment and work machinery tipping over and trapping workers
  • Workers pinned or caught between structures
  • Walls collapsing onto workers during demolition
  • Getting trapped between or under vehicles
  • Workers getting a limb trapped in moving machinery

Getting caught in or between can result in fatalities and disabling injuries, such as loss of limbs, brain injuries, and crush injuries. Employers should take the necessary safety measures to protect trenches and ensure that machinery with moving parts is safely locked and parked when not in use.

3. Getting Struck by Objects

Data from OSHA shows that being struck by objects or machinery is a leading cause of worker fatalities in construction. Protecting workers from flying objects, such as tools or construction debris, can be challenging, particularly during the construction of high-rise properties. However, employers must implement appropriate safety measures to reduce the risk of workers getting struck by machinery, objects, and building materials. Such safety measures can include, among others:

  • Supply safety gear, such as high-visibility vests near machinery and equipment
  • Employ qualified workers and provide the required training
  • Suspend work from scaffolds and roofs during inclement weather, such as high winds

4. Electrocution

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), electrocutions make up around seven percent of construction fatalities. Electricians and those working near power lines can be particularly at risk of experiencing electrocution and electric shock. Electrocutions typically occur due to one of the following:

  • Encountering electrical hazards while working from ladders and scaffolding
  • Working with electric tools and machinery that are not grounded or double insulated
  • Coming into contact with transformers or live wires
  • Touching an overhead power line

Before work starts, employers and site supervisors must identify electrical hazards such as underground power lines. Failing to do so can have catastrophic consequences for workers who may die from electrocution or suffer permanent injuries, such as brain and heart damage.

5. Accidents With On-Site Vehicles

Most construction sites involve heavy and powerful vehicles, such as dump trucks, bulldozers, and cranes. Construction site vehicle accidents can occur for many reasons, such as:

  • Improper driver training
  • Defective vehicles
  • Distracted driving
  • Driving under the influence
  • Hiring drivers without the necessary qualifications
  • Violating traffic rules

Workers can be injured and killed in collisions or by getting hit and pinned underneath vehicles. Employers are responsible for fitting vehicles with the appropriate safety installations, such as horns, hazard lights, and others. Traffic at a construction site should be regulated with proper signage to reduce the risk of tragic accidents.

6. Trench Collapses

Working in and around trenches can be dangerous for construction workers. Trench collapses and cave-ins can be deadly and cause severe injuries such as oxygen deprivation and fractures. Employers must ensure that trenches are safe and regularly inspected before work begins. Excavations five feet or deeper generally require additional protective measures, which can include:

  • Sloping the sides of the trench
  • Shoring the sides of the excavation with supports to prevent cave-ins
  • Ensuring trenches are free of standing water
  • Providing workers with high-visibility vests, helmets, and other protective equipment

7. Exposure to Toxins

Construction workers often come into contact with hazardous chemicals and building materials. Common harmful substances on construction sites include:

  • Solvents
  • Asbestos
  • Insulations materials
  • Pesticides
  • Carbon monoxide
  • Acids
  • Hot tar and asphalt
  • Formaldehyde
  • Lead

Workers routinely encountering harmful substances may experience detrimental health effects such as respiratory distress, allergic reactions, skin rashes, and neurological problems. Some toxins, such as asbestos, can cause terminal illnesses decades after workers come into contact with them.
If an employer unreasonably exposes workers to dangerous toxic substances without providing protective equipment and establishing safety protocols, they could be liable for the damages of affected workers and families.

8. Explosions and Fires

Construction workers frequently handle hazardous substances and equipment, such as flammable substances and electric wiring. Improper working practices, handling, or storage can cause deadly explosions and construction site fires. Employers must make worksites reasonably safe from fires, which can include:

  • Establishing a fire protection program
  • Carrying out risk assessments
  • Making workers aware of potential fire and explosion hazards
  • Providing basic training in fire response procedures
  • Turning off unattended electricity and gas
  • Allowing only qualified persons to handle explosives

Burns and other fire injuries can forever change the lives of impacted workers and families. If your loved one was injured or killed in a fire or explosion at work, consult our personal injury lawyers for help and advice, as you could qualify for compensation.

9. Repetitive Strain and Overexertion

Workers can suffer considerable joint and muscle damage from repeated heavy lifting and hard physical labor. Exhaustion and overexertion can lead to construction site accidents and injuries. While overexertion injuries may heal with adequate rest, a chronic occupational condition or injury could force workers to change careers or retire early.

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Get answers to commonly asked questions about our legal services and learn how we may assist you with your case.

  • What Are Common Injuries in Construction Accidents?

    Each year, construction workers suffering from severe and disabling injuries are rushed to emergency rooms after getting injured at work. Common injuries in construction accidents include:

    • Head and brain injuries
    • Soft tissue injuries
    • Lacerations
    • Burns
    • Electrocution
    • Eye injuries
    • Fractures
    • Neck and shoulder injuries
    • Spinal cord damage and paralysis
    • Herniated discs and other back injuries
    • Broken bones
    • Diseases due to exposure to toxic substances

    Once you receive adequate medical care for an occupational injury or disease, your thoughts may turn to the future. Construction accidents can result in steep medical costs, ongoing care expenses, and loss of wages. An attorney at Morgan & Morgan can help to clarify your options for recovering benefits and compensation, which can include filing a workers’ compensation claim and a lawsuit against the party responsible for your injury.

  • How Can I Receive Compensation After Getting Hurt?

    If you suffered an injury while working at a construction site, you could have several avenues for receiving compensation and benefits, depending on your accident circumstances.

    Collecting Workers’ Compensation

    Most construction workers can file a workers’ compensation claim when injured at work. Workers’ comp is a no-fault system, meaning you can receive benefits even if you caused the accident or were partially at fault for your injury. However, if you get hurt at work, inform your employer as soon as possible and seek medical advice. In most states, the time to file workers’ compensation claims is limited.

    Workers’ comp benefits for injured workers vary slightly from state to state. However, you can generally receive the following:

    • All necessary medical expenses for your injury
    • Wage replacement payments up to a maximum
    • Survivor’s benefits for the family of a deceased worker

    If you suffer a disabling injury or have a pre-existing condition complicating your claim, you could face some stumbling blocks and may need help. If you have already had your claim rejected or are struggling to get what you deserve, our lawyers are here to help. We can help you navigate the appeals process, fight an unfair impairment rating, and help you get the benefits or settlement you need to manage your life and take care of your loved ones.

    Suing the Responsible Party

    Some injured workers have the option of filing a personal injury lawsuit and pursuing compensation from a third party (someone other than the employer). Third parties can include other contractors at the construction site, the owner of the site, or an equipment manufacturer. However, you will have to prove that the third party was responsible for causing your accident. If successful, you could recover awards for:

    • Medical bills
    • Missed wages
    • Pain and anguish
    • Emotional trauma
    • Reduced life quality
    • Permanent disfigurement
    • Loss of a limb
    • Loss of a sense, such as hearing or sight

    It is important to note that a successful lawsuit allows workers to collect some forms of compensation that are not available through workers’ compensation, such as awards for pain and suffering.

    Morgan & Morgan can be by your side every step of the way and help you get justice if a third party is responsible for causing your injuries and financial losses.

    Suing an Employer for Damages

    Employees receiving workers’ compensation are generally prohibited from suing an employer for damages. However, you could be entitled to file a lawsuit against an employer in rare cases, such as:

    An employer acted egregiously or deliberately caused your injuries
    The employer lacks workers’ compensation coverage
    Your employer was responsible for the denial or delay of your workers’ comp claim

    If you believe you have a legal case against an employer, you should act immediately, as the time to file a lawsuit could be limited. Our personal injury attorneys can walk you through your options and move forward with a claim on your behalf.

  • Morgan & Morgan Fights Hard for Construction Workers and Families

    Construction sites are not always up to code, putting the lives of workers at risk. When the worst happens, and a construction worker is injured or killed, standing up against powerful construction companies and developers can be intimidating. Such companies typically have unlimited resources to fight construction accident compensation claims. 

    Morgan & Morgan never settles for less or hesitates to hold powerful companies accountable. We have been fighting for the rights of injured workers for decades. As the largest personal injury firm in the country, we can stand up to corporate bullies and fight for the benefits and compensation workers and families deserve. 

    If you or a loved one got hurt due to another’s negligence, we could help you pursue compensation in addition to workers’ compensation benefits. Our fee is free unless and until we recover compensation for you. Contact Morgan & Morgan now to determine your legal options and the next best steps.

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