The danger of construction site accidents was brought close to home recently when an estimated six or seven trusses fell at a work site in Tavares, injuring two workers.
As reported earlier this month in The Orlando Sentinel, the trusses collapsed on the men and caused them to fall 25 to 35 feet. Even though one man refused medical care, the other was flown to Orlando Regional Medical Center because of a suspected traumatic head injury.
This story is a good reminder that construction site accidents are not merely statistics. They involve people whose lives and families may be affected forever. Unfortunately, despite government regulations and safety training, these accidents remain common and often fatal occurrences.
Most Common Causes of Construction Site Accidents
Sometimes, unsafe working conditions can cause these accidents. Other times, they may result from careless or negligent behavior on the part of a worker. Regardless of the circumstances giving rise to these injuries and deaths, the number of incidents is alarming.
The Bureau of Labor Statistics, a unit of the U.S. Department of Labor, reported an average of approximately 828 workplace fatalities for full-time construction workers from 2009 to 2012. During 2012 alone, out of approximately 5.6 million construction workers, there were 242,735 documented cases of missed work, job restrictions or job transfers due to work-related injuries or illnesses.
In its Worker Safety Pocket Guide for construction workers, OSHA has identified many of the common causes of on-the-job injuries and fatalities for these workers, including:
- Falls from heights – Whether due to an unsafe work site, insufficient or misused protective equipment or human error, falls consistently cause the greatest number of construction site deaths each year.
- Operation of powered industrial trucks and cranes – In the construction field, an estimated 100 workers suffer fatal injuries and roughly 95,000 employees experience non-fatal injuries per year while operating powered industrial trucks. A significant number of the deaths occur when a forklift turns over. When improperly inspected or used, cranes can also cause serious injuries on construction sites.
- Collapse of scaffolding – Approximately 4,500 injuries and 50 deaths occur annually as a result of scaffolding accidents. Typically, these accidents are due to improper assembly or use of a scaffold.
- Electrocution – Even though the Pocket Guide lists electric shock and arc flash or arc blast as potential hazards on construction sites, it does not state the number of injuries or deaths associated with electrocution. It does note that fatalities often occur if part of a crane touches an overhead power line.
According to the Center for Construction Research and Training (CCRT), electrocution is one of the main causes of on-site fatalities among construction workers. The CCRT works with the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH), part of the Center for Disease Control, to promote occupational safety and health in construction. It has estimated that 2,432 construction workers died as a result of being electrocuted at job sites between 1992 and 2010.
Additionally, hundreds of injuries and dozens of death are caused each year when construction site trenches collapse.
If you or a loved one has been hurt in a construction accident, it is important to speak with an attorney to learn more about one’s rights to secure workers’ compensation benefits and / or to recover compensation through a personal injury or wrongful death action.