Construction is considered one of the most dangerous industries in the United States, with a high rate of accidents causing injury or death. According to the Occupational Safety and Health Association, there were 775 construction accidents that resulted in death in 2012. For that year, almost 20 percent of all fatalities in the United States that happened as a result of workplace accidents occurred at construction sites. Types of construction accidents may vary depending on the particular job.
Types of Fatal Construction Accidents
Approximately 56 percent of all construction worker fatalities were caused by four types of construction accidents. Dubbed the “fatal four”, the most common accidents that caused fatality were falls, being struck by an object, being electrocuted, and being caught in between objects. Of these, falls accounted for more deaths than the other three types of fatal accidents combined.
Types of Nonfatal Construction Accidents
The “fatal four” construction accidents also account for more than half of all nonfatal construction accidents, with falls accounting for about 25 percent of injuries. However, many more nonfatal accidents were caused by contact with objects and injuries from exertion or overstrain. Transportation injuries also accounted for a high number of both fatal and non-fatal accidents.
Other types of hazards that may cause harm to construction workers include:
- Exposure to toxic chemicals or asbestos
- Burns from equipment or materials
- Damage to eardrums from noise
- Damage to eyes from heat or bright lights
Common OSHA Construction Citations
Due to the high rate of injury on construction sites, OSHA publishes the ten most common citations given to construction sites each year. The citations are published publicly so that construction companies can work to prevent the hazards before receiving OSHA inspections. OSHA representatives will work with construction companies upon request to create safety programs which will mitigate the hazards most commonly found to be in violation on construction sites.
The ten most common construction violations that were cited by OSHA in 2013 include:
- Inadequate fall protection
- Inadequate hazard communication
- Hazardous scaffolding
- Inadequate respiratory protection
- Improper electrical and wiring methods
- Improperly maintained or used powered industrial trucks
- Ladders unable to support proper weights
- Equipment not locked out properly so that the equipment cannot be started accidentally
- Electrical equipment improperly maintained to prevent hazards
- Machines not guarded to prevent rotating parts and sparks from harming workers
Preventing Construction Accidents
Most types of construction accidents are difficult to prevent due to the constantly changing nature of construction sites. However, construction employers should seek to continuously improve safety on each job site. Educating employees on proper safety procedures and enforcing safety standards may help to prevent many construction accidents.
Steps which can be taken to prevent common types of construction accidents include:
- Installing guardrail systems to prevent high falls
- Installing safety net systems to prevent injury from high falls
- Covering floor holes with sturdy materials to prevent falls
- Posting warning signs around live electrical wires
- Deactivating electrical wires whenever possible
- Using non-conductive ladders while working near electrical wires
- Checking construction vehicles for safety prior to operation
- Using signs and barricades on public roadways
- Wearing hardhats and other protective gear
- Checking for stability when working with excavations
- Properly bracing structures until permanent supports are in place
- Never loading machinery beyond weight capacities
2002 OSH Law Revision
In 2002, OSHA revised the standards surrounding common types of construction hazards that often result in accidents. The regulations surrounding employee exposure to asbestos, noise standards, cranes, and scaffolding use were updated to increase employee safety and detail safety procedures surrounding these hazards. Nonfatal construction accidents have declined steadily since 2002. Fatal construction accidents have also declined overall since 2002, but not as steadily and consistently as nonfatal accidents.
Florida Construction Accident Attorneys
The procedure for reporting and handling a construction accident may vary depending on the type of accident and the materials or individuals involved. If an employee becomes injured despite safety precautions, workers’ compensation may assist with lost wages and medical costs. If an employee is injured due to a direct safety violation or negligence on the part of the employer, an attorney may be able to provide advice for recovering compensation for the injury from the employer. If the injury stems from faulty equipment or materials, the manufacturer may be liable.
“Leading Causes of Fatal and Nonfatal Injuries in Construction.” The Center for Construction Research and Training. 43.November (2012): 1-2. Web. 26 Mar. 2014. <http://stopconstructionfalls.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/07/Leading-Causes-of-Fatal-and-Nonfatal-Injuries-in-Construction-2013-update.pdf>
“Occupational Safety and Health Administration.” United States Department of Labor. U.S. Department of Labor, n.d. Web. 26 Mar 2014. <https://www.osha.gov/SLTC/etools/construction/shprogram.html>