The Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that nearly 200,000 construction accidents happen each year in the U.S., and the largest demographic involved in these incidents are male workers ages 25 to 34. Many of these injuries are serious, requiring medical attention and lost time from work. About 2.5% of these accidents are fatal.
There are many worst-case scenarios possible on a construction site. It’s a terrifying thought for anyone that works in this environment. A poor decision, lack of training, or failure to follow site safety standards could lead to severe and life-changing injuries.
Multiple Hazards Exist on Construction Sites
Working with heavy equipment, machinery, electricity, and other dangerous materials could lead to a variety of workplace accidents. Known as the “fatal four,” these four types of accidents are responsible for 60% of all construction site accidents and 57% of fatalities. The four most common causes of construction worker deaths are:
- Being struck by an object
- Caught in/between accidents
In addition to those four, some of the most common causes of construction site accidents include:
- Explosions and fires
- Toxic chemicals
- Crane accidents
- Dangerous or defective equipment
- Building collapse
It’s an unfortunate fact that many of these accidents are completely preventable. Construction sites are held to high safety standards, yet many companies fall short through omission or just plain negligence.
Construction Sites Must Adhere to Strict Safety Standards
The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) is the government agency responsible for protecting workers from unsafe conditions. OSHA drafts regulations meant to protect workers and provides oversight through inspections and fines.
If a construction worker is injured, OSHA might investigate the workplace to see if dangerous conditions exist. If there are serious safety violations, OSHA can impose a penalty of over $12,000 or as much as $129,000 for repeated and intentional wrongdoings.
Employers have certain duties according to OSHA that include:
- Providing a workplace that is free from hazards;
- Making sure employees have and use safe equipment and tools;
- Informing employees of OSHA health and safety standards;
- Displaying an official OSHA poster that outlines rights and responsibilities in a prominent place;
- Establishing a comprehensive, written hazard communication program;
- Providing employees with safety training in a language they understand; and
- Informing employees of the existence, availability, and location of their exposure and medical records.
Employees have certain rights according to OSHA that include the right to:
- Review records of work-related illnesses and injuries;
- Review copies of applicable rules, standards, regulations, and requirements;
- Have access to relevant employee medical and exposure records;
- Receive copies of hazard tests done in the workplace;
- Request that OSHA inspect the workplace if they believe a violation or hazard exists; and
- Be free of retaliatory or discriminatory action by their employer due to an OSHA complaint.
How Construction Sites Can Reduce Accidents
Safety on construction sites is something that costs employers time and money, which is why some cut corners with these measures. What many employers fail to realize is that these programs can be a matter of life or death for workers, and violations can result in hefty fines from OSHA.
Some of the top ways to keep a construction site safe include:
- Safety training for workers – Every construction worker should receive extensive safety training before being permitted on the job site.
- Frequent crew safety meetings – Foremen should have daily or weekly crew meetings to discuss safety topics and potential job site hazards.
- Protective clothing and gear – Workers must be required to wear hard hats, high visibility clothing, and steel-toed boots to avoid serious injuries.
- Clean workspaces – Worksites that are free of debris will have fewer accidents.
- Tool and equipment inspection – Frequent inspection can identify broken or malfunctioning equipment before it causes an injury.
- Fall protection systems – Canopies, toe boards, guardrails, and nets can all prevent one of the most common causes of construction site fatalities.
- Job site risk assessments – Assess each construction to identify unique hazards and create a safety plan to address them.
Who is Responsible for Construction Site Accidents?
As an employee in Georgia, the state’s workers’ compensation system generally prevents you from pursuing a civil lawsuit against your direct employer. But third-party cases are common in construction site accidents because there are so many different entities working in tandem to design, construct, renovate, or maintain a building.
The site owners, building architects, engineers, contractors, and equipment designers and manufacturers can all be held liable for accidents that arise due to insufficient safety measures. All contractors and subcontractors are responsible for keeping a job site reasonably safe. Specifically, they must:
- Warn of any possible hazards on the job site
- Coordinate job safety measures
- Hire employees that will use caution while working
Designers and manufacturers of construction equipment must design, create, and maintain safe products. Any dangerous or defective product that makes its way onto a construction site could cause injury or death. If this happens when the equipment was being used as intended, the designer or manufacturer could be held responsible.
Speak with a Qualified Atlanta Construction Site Accident Attorney
Just because you were injured at work, that doesn’t necessarily make your accident case simple. Construction site accidents are often complex cases and are often far from routine. At Bailey, Javins & Carter, L.C., we specialize in protecting the rights of injured construction workers and their families throughout the Atlanta and surrounding area.
A deeper background check of the construction company may be required as well as the interview of witnesses and records relative to the ownership of equipment or the job site. We may need to secure an agreement with the site owner to preserve evidence until it is properly inspected.
If you or someone you love has suffered an injury in construction, you have the right to pursue damages from the responsible party. Our legal team will review your situation to help identify who should be held accountable and outline a plan of action to move your case forward. Contact our office today at (678) 981-5370 or reach out to us online to schedule your free consultation.