CONSTRUCTION INJURIES IN THE UNITED STATES
The construction industry ranks at number two in the United States for fatal injuries in workers younger than the age of 18, according to the US National Library of Medicine. With one in ten workers becoming injured every year, these numbers are of no surprise. Working in construction can be dangerous even when taking safety precautions.
The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) sets regulations and protocols for the industry and those who work in it. According to OSHA, the number one most-violated OSHA standard is fall protection. Falls are also the most common cause of fatalities for construction workers each year. These falls often occur from unprotected sides on job sites, holes in floors, misuse of ladders, wall openings, and improper scaffolding construction.
Construction is a necessary part of life, especially as it pertains to growing sustainable cities and communities. It’s important to know the risks and laws of the industry, and what the best practices to take to avoid injury. If you or a loved one does happen to become injured, knowing your legal rights in the workplace is essential.
CONSTRUCTION AND OCCUPATIONAL INJURIES ARE INCREASING
The Bureau of Labor Statistics reports there were a total of 5,190 fatal work injuries recorded in the United States in 2016. This was up seven percent from the 4,836 fatal injuries reported in 2015, and the third annual increase that this statistic area has had, showing that occupational hazards are a growing problem within the United States. Fall, slip and trip deaths increased six percent, coming in at 849 deaths. This statistic backs up the claim that falls are the most common cause of injury and death in the construction industry.
RISKS AND REPERCUSSIONS
One in five workplace deaths occurs in the construction industry. This is the highest rate out of all of the other industries in the United States. Who is the most at-risk? The following construction workers are the most at-risk of injury each year:
- First-Line Supervisors
- Construction Laborers
The ten most cited violations according to the Occupational Safety and Health Association:
- Fall Protection
- Hazard Communications
- Respiratory Protection
- Powered Industrial Trucks
- Electrical and Wiring Methods
- Machine Guarding
- Electrical and General Requirements
Numerous repercussions can occur as a result of violating safety regulations. While some injuries can be more severe than others, it is important to know the risks and abide by all safety codes to avoid injury or death.
Possible injuries that can occur from accidents in the construction industry are:
- Amputated Limbs or Decapitated Limbs
- Disfigurement in various parts of the body
- Back or neck injuries, that at times may cause permanent damage
- Spinal cord injuries, which can often lead to paralysis
- Brain Injury or Damage
- Long-term impairment that can result in the inability to work and make a living wage
- Falls are the most common cause of all of the injuries stated above. However, there are three other types of accidents that occur each year, and more often than not, result in fatalities.
- Struck by an Object: this occurs as a result of flying or falling construction objects or tools or could involve being stuck by a construction worker’s vehicle.
- Electrocutions: this is caused by a lack of ground, direct contact with any power lines, misuse of cords and equipment, and missing or discontinuous path of a ground wire.
- Caught between objects: workers can get caught between objects by unsafe soil-pile placement, unsafe access to a certain area, no protective systems, and failure to inspect the safety of all areas and devices.
CONSTRUCTION SITE SAFETY REGULATIONS, HAZARDS, AND STANDARDS IN THE INDUSTRY
With more construction and development increasing across the nation, there is no surprise that the rate of fatalities has also risen. While the construction industry has pledged to abide by the standards of OSHA, there are still hazards that occur while on the job.
The physical hazards are a bit obvious, such as falls, stepping on nails, getting hit with objects, and so on. However, there are other hazards that are not-so-obvious that need to be considered by workers and their supervisors.
Depending on the location or time of year, weather can have a significant impact on the workers; and, depending on the severity of the weather, it can result in injury or death. If the worker if in harsh conditions, such as excessive heat, are being overexerted, and not staying properly hydrated, the consequences could be severe. Injury and illness such as heat stroke, heat exhaustion, and heat cramps can occur.
Vehicle accidents in construction are all too common. Because of this, it is important to be extremely cautious while operating motor vehicles or equipment on all job sites. To abide by regulations, a construction vehicle should have a service brake system, emergency brake system, and a parking brake system. All vehicles must be equipped with an audible warning system as to alert others in the area when a vehicle is backing up or stopping.
To increase safety and prevent accidental falls, the vehicles must have windows, and doors, power windshield wipers, and a clear view of job site from the rear window. Most importantly, all employees should be properly trained and certified before using motor vehicles and their equipment. This will help to keep them and others as safe as possible.
All who are involved in construction must become educated in all relevant areas of their work. This is the first step to preventing death and injury. Site managers and their employees must be aware of the dangers they could face day-to-day and know the best way to respond when faced with a hazard.
On top of education, site preparation aids in preventing injury and death on construction sites. This type of preparation includes removing debris, leveling the ground, filling all open holes, cutting tree roots, removing large rocks, and marking gas, water, and electric pipelines. Another prevention method is to provide a scaffold that is rigid and sturdy enough to carry its own weight without movement or displacement.
Some ways to prevent injuries and improve safety include:
- Management safety training
- Integrate safety as a part of the job standards
- Create accountability for all departments
- Take safety into account during the project planning process (imagine the worst-case-scenario)
- Make sure that all contractors are pre-qualified for safety
- Make sure that all workers are properly trained in appropriate areas of the job
- Have a fall protection system *(number one injury in construction)
- Prevent and address substance abuse to employees. *It is crucial to not be under the influence while operating machinery and heavy equipment
- Implement regular inspections
WORKERS’ COMPENSATION IN THE STATE OF LOUISIANA
Dangerous tasks are common in the construction workplace. Taking that into consideration, it is important to know your rights and be aware of Workers’ Compensation. Workers’ compensation is a form of insurance that provides wage replacement and medical benefits to employees injured while on the job. In the state of Louisiana, all public and private employers must provide workers’ compensation coverage for their employees if their team consists of one or more full-or part-time individuals.
CONTACT A BATON ROUGE CONSTRUCTION INJURY LAWYER
When it comes to construction injuries, there are a lot of people and entities that could be liable for the accident. This includes the construction site owner, any contractor on the project, engineers, and architects, or the manufacturers of the equipment that caused the injury.
If you or a loved one has been injured in a construction accident, it is important to seek medical attention as soon as possible. Report this injury to your site manager, and be sure to provide any evidence when making a claim (i.e., medical examination records, witnesses to the accident, photographs of the hazardous conditions, etc.) Lastly, contact a responsible attorney to walk you through your legal options.
Rusty Messer & Associates offers confidential, complimentary consultations for anyone who has experienced construction-related injuries. If you or your loved one has been injured, call our offices today at (225) 963-9638 to ask a question or schedule your meeting with a Louisiana Construction Injury Attorney.
CONTACT A PERSONAL INJURY LAWYER TODAY
The law firm of Rusty Messer & Associates handles all types of personal injury claims in Louisiana. We also handle claims and cases related to immigration, felony criminal defense, and family law. Our decades of Louisiana personal injury law experience allows us to successfully represent all of our clients with a personalized hands-on approach.
If you or someone you love has been injured in an accident that was caused by the careless, reckless, or negligent actions of another person or entity, you may be entitled to compensation. Contact an attorney at Rusty Messer & Associates today at (225) 963-9368 to schedule a free consultation.
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