The amount of personal injuries that happen to construction workers every year is a serious problem. According to the CDC, construction workers experience 4.3 nonfatal injuries and illnesses per 100 full-time workers, and 9% of all nonfatal injuries and illnesses every year. According to OSHA, one in five worker deaths occurs in construction.
Most Common Construction Accidents
Called the “Fatal Four,” the most common types of construction accidents are:
- Falls – 381 out of 971 total deaths in construction in 2017 (39.2%). Construction workers are at risk from falls from scaffolding, cranes, roofs, ladders, and other heights at work.
- Struck by Object – 80 (8.2%) Construction workers are at risk of being struck by objects from above, for example, tools used above the worker or construction materials that aren’t properly secured. Brain and spinal injuries can occur, even if you’re wearing appropriate safety equipment such as hardhats.
- Electrocutions – 71 (7.3%) The CDC notes that many of the contractors who experienced fatal electrical injuries were not trained electrical specialists, including construction laborers, roofers, service workers, and other occupations.
- Caught-in/between. Workers are at risk of being run over by large trucks backing out of construction sites. They are also sometimes crushed between large vehicles and walls or concrete. These types of accidents can be related to supervisor neglect in controlling a work site.
- Equipment Related Accidents
Heavy machine equipment used on construction sites can fail or cause accidents without proper maintenance and supervision. For example, a forklift could fail to work properly, a dumpster could fall over unexpectedly, or a nail gun could misfire. If equipment is unsafe or dangerous and that caused your injuries, you may wish to discuss with your attorney a legal theory called “product liability.” That’s the law about who’s responsible for defective or dangerous products.
- Fires and Explosions
While less common than some other types of accidents, fires and explosions can result in fatalities or serious injuries. Construction sites often contain hazardous conditions such as exposed wiring, leaking pipes, and flammable chemicals that could lead to fires and explosions.
- Trench or Building Collapses
This common type of construction injury happens when a structure that’s being built collapses on the workers inside. A building that’s being demolished or that’s under construction can collapse suddenly, killing or seriously injuring those inside.
- Repetitive Motion Injuries, Heat Stroke, and Other Overexertion
Due to the hard physical labor required for construction work, employees in this industry often have injuries related to overexertion, including:
- Repetitive motion injuries
- Muscle and joint damage due to overuse
- Heat stress in hot conditions that can lead to brain, heart, or kidney damage or death
- Hypothermia or frostbite resulting in the loss of fingers, toes, and parts of the face
- High Lead Levels
Construction workers represented 16% of elevated blood lead concentration cases in 2002-2008.
- Respiratory Diseases
The most common respiratory diseases that have led to death in construction workers are Asbestosis, Coal Workers’ Black Lung, and Silicosis. Victims of these conditions may have a product liability claim against employers or the manufacturers or suppliers of asbestos, silica, or other harmful product.
The 10 Most Common Types of Negligence in Construction Accidents
Now we’ve looked at the 10 most common types of construction accidents, but is there a common cause behind them? While these accidents are the most common ways that construction workers are injured or killed, there’s a dangerous theme behind many of these construction injuries: employer negligence. Negligence in construction often looks like violating safety standards. In 2018, the top 10 OSHA safety standards violated were:
- Fall protection, construction
- Hazard communication standard, general industry
- Scaffolding, general requirements, construction
- Respiratory protection, general industry
- Control of hazardous energy (lockout/tagout), general industry
- Ladders, construction
- Powered industrial trucks, general industry
- Fall Protection–training requirements
- Machinery and Machine Guarding, general requirements
- Eye and Face Protection
California has a workers’ compensation system in place that entitles an injured employee to compensation for their injuries, even if the employer did not act negligently. However, the employee is usually able to recover less in a workers’ compensation case than he or she would be able to recover in a personal injury lawsuit.
Were You the Victim of an Accident?
Progress is being made in preventing negligence from causing construction worker deaths and injuries. But many construction accidents caused by employer or company negligence still happen annually. If you or a loved one has been seriously injured in a construction accident in San Diego, California, it’s time to pursue a personal injury case. If your loved one was killed in a construction accident, we can help you pursue a wrongful death case.