Construction sites are rife with potentially fatal hazards. This is one reason why OSHA and other governing bodies are so strict when it comes to enforcing jobsite safety regulations – reducing construction site accidents is of great importance.
Unfortunately, many construction zone managers and third-party companies who work onsite overlook workplace safety laws. This often leads to serious and potentially deadly injuries to workers and innocent bystanders.
The construction industry is responsible for 20 percent of all on-the-job fatalities in the United States. In other cases, injuries lead to permanent disabilities and prevent victims from returning to work.
Construction projects often involve working from significant heights. Employees are subjected to working from ladders and scaffolding in many instances.
A high fall can cause catastrophic injuries that may tragically lead to paralysis or even death.
It is imperative – and required by law – that construction companies perform regular maintenance on scaffolding, ladders and other equipment. Failure to do so could make the company liable for any resulting injuries. In addition, employers have a duty to determine if the surfaces on which employees are working has the strength and structural integrity to support the employees safely.
According to OSHA, there is a duty to have fall protection in their Safety and Health Regulations for Construction. Guardrail systems, safety net systems, or personal fall arrest systems are required in order to protect workers who are walking or working on a vertical or horizontal surface with an unprotected side or edge that is 6 feet or more above a lower level.
Tripping or Slipping and Falling
Slips, trips and falls make up the majority of all general accidents. Furthermore, the US Department of Labor states that 15% of all accidental deaths (about 12,000 per year) for general industry deaths result from slips, trips, and falls.
Construction sites are fraught with haphazard objects that cause workers to trip. Open holes, uneven ground, tools and materials, cords, wires, wet surfaces and more can cause a serious fall.
According to OSHA, a slip is defined as too little friction between fee (footware) & walking/working surface resulting in loss of balance. Common causes of slips are:
- Wet product or spills on smooth floors or walking surfaces like water or grease
- Dry poduct or spills making the walking surface slippery such as dust or powders
- Highly-polished floors, freshly-waxed surfaces,
- Transitioning between different surfaces
- Sloped walking surfaces
- Loose and/or unanchored rugs or mats, floorboards, and/or shifting tiles
- Ramps and/or gang planks without skid- or slip-resistant surfaces
- Metal surfaces
OSHA defines a trip as when the foot or lower leg hits object & upper body continues moving resulting in loss of balance and/or stepping down to a lower surface & losing balance. Common causes of trips include:
- Uncovered hoses, cables, wires, and/or extension cords across aisles or walkways
- Clutter and/or obstacles in aisles, walkways and work areas
- Open cabinets, file or desk drawers, and doors
- Changes in elevation or levels
- Rumpled or rolled-up carpets and/or
- Irregulatiries in walking surfaces
- Damaged steps or non-uniform, improper or irregular steps
- Objects protruding from a walking surface
- Uneven surfaces
- Sidewalk/curb drops
Electrocution is among the most common construction site accidents. While workers are busy building, unsecured wires and electrical systems lie bare until installation is finished. Exposed wires can shock workers, and there is also an inherent risk in installing them.
OSHA states that, “No employer shall permit an employee to work in such proximity to any part of an electric power circuit that the employee could contact the electric power circuit in the course of work, unless the employee is protected against electric shock by energizing the circuit and grounding it or by guarding it effectively by insulation or other means.”
OSHA further goes on to make it the duty of the employer to post and maintain proper warning signs where these such circuits exist. It is on the employer and/or the one who is exercising control over the jobsite to advise the employees where these lines are located, the ensuing hazards, and the measures needed to be taken to protect the employees.
Falling objects contribute to thousands of injuries and deaths every year. This is why construction workers are required to wear the appropriate headgear. Falling machinery, tools, wood and debris can all cause significant harm to workers below.
Most construction projects rely heavily on trucks, earthmoving equipment and large vehicles for digging and transportation. Furthermore, cars drive around these sites all day. Vehicle accidents are extremely common on construction sites, and because these vehicles are typically heavy and big, they can catastrophically injure workers.
Construction workers have dangerous jobs, and that is why we strive to make workplaces safer. The culprit of many construction site accidents is often negligence, and the workers who are injured as a result of this negligence are entitled to compensation. Although no compensation will make them whole, or undo a severe injury, it can help to improve their unfortunate situation.
Our Chicago construction injury attorneys are well-versed in the laws surrounding construction site accidents. In fact, the lead trial team at Horwitz, Horwitz & Associates recovered what was the largest verdict in Illinois history on behalf of an injured ironworker who fell and was left paralyzed from a job-site accident. If you have any questions regarding an injury that happened on a construction site, do not hesitate to call our office today at (800)-985-1819 to schedule a free consultation or speak with one of our attorneys today.