If you work in a construction zone, you must do your best to be careful because construction site accidents are rampant. According to the OSHA or Occupational Safety and Health Administration, 20% of job-related deaths occur in the construction industry. On top of that, more construction workers suffer from work-related injuries each year.
This data may not surprise you because it is fairly obvious that a construction zone is extremely hazardous. You have nails, chainsaws, staple guns, cranes, etc. When not properly handled, all of these can result in injuries ranging from minor abrasions and burns to fatal electrocutions or falls. And even with proper care and handling, accidents can still happen.
It is vital to know what these accidents are so you can be aware of the risks when you enter a construction zone. Understanding how these common accidents happen in construction areas can help you mitigate disasters. More importantly, it will give you the presence of mind to act fast when a serious accident occurs.
Fifteen Most Frequent Construction Accidents
Injuries in a construction zone are common because of the many hazardous types of equipment that workers need to boost performance and productivity. In addition, you have live electricity and gravity to contend with, apart from risky tools.
For example, when poorly trained co-workers make one wrong move from the 4th floor, the perilous fall can result in traumatic brain injury, multiple fractures, or death. The damage sustained from this kind of workplace accident can be life-altering, depending on the severity of the situation.
Although there are numerous ways for a construction worker to get hurt on the job, you will find many common accidents regularly documented in the emergency room. For example, the top fifteen most frequent construction site accidents are as follows:
Falls From Great Heights
This is the leading accident in a construction area. It should not come as a surprise because it is common for construction workers to perform their duties perched on a high area like scaffoldings, rooftops, ladders, etc. This can result in physical injuries from minor scrapes to serious fractures like spinal cord injuries. The severity usually depends on the height of the fall and where the worker lands. Sometimes, luck also plays a role as some have gone miraculously unscathed.
Construction workers don a hard hat to prevent head trauma from falling debris. However, this plastic covering can only do so much. When heavy tools, building materials, equipment, pieces of scaffolding, or other supplies fall on a person, it can do severe damage; more so when the object comes from a significant height. It can even result in fatality.
It is common to find exposed, live wires in a construction zone. In addition, you will also encounter unfinished electrical systems, incomplete circuit breakers, unfinished receptacles, or downed power lines. On top of that, there are electrical equipment, lighting fixtures, and other power issues to deal with. For these mentioned reasons, construction workers are at risk for electrical shocks or electrocution, resulting in arrhythmia or heart attack.
A live wire may not cause an electric shock, but it can still create a spark or overheat the system. When this happens, something can explode, and there will be a fire. Hence, construction workers are prone to severe burns.
Construction sites are often messy. You will encounter tools, equipment, materials, and other debris lying around. As a result, workers often trip on them. Moreover, there can be material spillage like oil, which can be slippery. Slips can be dangerous, resulting in a bone fracture. It can also result in lacerations and abrasions.
Fires or Explosions
When live wires create a spark, it can result in a massive explosion. Similarly, gas leaks can also be fatal. For example, paint thinner is highly flammable. Carbon monoxide is also toxic. The presence of both in an enclosed construction space is deadly. It also does not help that there are many flammable items on a construction site like:
It is common to find trenches in construction areas. After all, workers need to dig deep to lay down the foundation of any building. However, the massive excavations make the surrounding areas unstable. As a result, the ground could collapse on the workers, resulting in devastating injuries. To make things worse, people can be trapped or buried underneath piles of rubble with no way out.
When construction workers forget to put on their safety goggles, they can suffer from eye injuries such as irritation, infection, or a surface scratch on the cornea. Sometimes, these eye accidents are inadvertent, such as when a welder fails to inform people nearby that he will fire up his welding machine. As a result, exposure to these fiery flames can injure those who are nearby. Likewise, those who are sanding wood or working with cement can cause debris to enter the eye of their co-workers.
Hit by a Vehicle
Motor vehicles commonly go in and out of construction sites. Construction workers are at risk of being struck by cars or moving machinery while at work. This risk triples if they need to work on highways and roads.
Stuck in Between Materials
Materials do not have to fall on a construction worker to create injury. Some materials and equipment can strike workers. Their limbs can also be caught between equipment or crushed by construction debris. In this scenario, workers can sustain bruises, cuts, and fractures. The worst-case scenario is pinning the ribs and cutting off the oxygen supply.
Repetitive Stress Injury
Construction work usually involves the same muscle groups. To illustrate, hammering a nail into place requires finger and wrist power. The repetitive nature of most tasks cause stress injuries to the following areas:
- Finger joints
Elevator Shaft Accidents
Construction workers must do their duties around elevator shafts. Therefore, they can take a massive fall if there are no safety precautions. For this reason, the one in charge must implement safety measures to prevent this potentially fatal accident.
Heavy machinery is essential in completing construction jobs. They also pose a risk, however, for construction workers because of machine malfunction or operator error. For example, here are three standard machinery construction accidents:
- Crane: These cranes or hoists are essential in lifting heavy materials into high places. However, the operator must have proper training. Failure to comply can result in falling debris, crane failure, etc.
- Forklift: This machine often has two deadly forks to lift heavy stuff. Without proper training, the operator can injure someone. At the same time, lack of attention can also result in an accident.
- Backhoe: A backhoe operator must have received the proper training to operate this machine effectively. Someone untrained cannot handle this machine, or you can expect a serious construction accident.
Exposure to Dangerous Chemicals
There are many dangerous materials and toxins in a construction zone. You have cement, noxious gases from paint thinners, smelly paint, etc. Construction workers often suffer from respiratory issues if they do not use proper equipment in handling these toxic substances.
Construction workers typically work long hours, regardless of the weather conditions. Even if it is hot and humid, they have no choice but to continue with their tasks. Unfortunately, this can result in the following:
- Cardiac arrest
All of the accidents above can result in various kinds of injuries. The worst result is death. If you or your loved one has been injured or killed in a construction accident, you must get help as soon as possible. Seek the advice of a lawyer to ensure your rights are protected. Do not sign anything to receive a check without their guidance. A lawyer’s insight can get you full and fair compensation so you can recover without worries.
What to Do After a Construction Accident
No one wants an accident to happen to yourself or your loved one. If a construction site accident occurs, however, you must know the proper steps to take. This will allow you to ascertain the safety of the person injured and protect your legal rights, too.
Since construction accidents occur during work, the victim can receive workers’ compensation benefits. Complete documentation is necessary to obtain full benefits; this includes medical coverage and time spent away from work resulting in income loss. If you suffered from injuries, take note of these steps to understand your claims’ viability.
Get Medical Attention
The most crucial step following a workplace accident is to treat the injury. Even for minor injuries, a medical professional must diagnose and provide treatment. You must receive full medical clearance before you return to work. Never be complacent because a small bump on the head could be a concussion, or even bruising in your stomach area could be a sign of internal bleeding.
Take Note of Details
It is vital to take notes of when, where, and how the accident transpired. If you are physically capable, take note of the following:
- Details leading up to the accident
- Time it happened
- Where it happened
- Probable cause
You can also request witnesses to give a brief statement regarding what they saw. Ask your co-workers to gather all the information of people who witnessed the accident. A brief summary of what they saw is helpful. All these details can serve as evidence later if you need to file for worker’s compensation.
Report the Injury
As soon as you can, inform your immediate superior about the accident. Take note of the name of the person who accepted your report. Give a printed copy and ask for an acknowledgment receipt. You can add this to your case notes later.
If possible, you must take pictures of your injuries, including the place, tools, or equipment involved. Those with severe injuries can ask the help of others. Try to preserve as much of the evidence as you can.
Keep All Medical Records
Since you received medical attention, document, and record everything. For example, you can secure copies of the following:
- Medical reports and charts
- Imaging scans
- Blood work
Prevent Workplace Injury
The government has enacted work safety guidelines to protect all workers because of the frequent reports of injuries and deaths in a construction zone. These regulations include training, protective equipment, and other safety protocols to prevent accidents. They have also outlined recommendations on what to do if an accident occurs on the premises. This guarantees workers’ rights and wellness.
As a construction worker, check out these helpful tips to make sure you stay safe while doing your job:
- Always wear your safety gear such as a hard hat, steel toe boots, gloves, and goggles.
- Stay proactive and not reactive because vigilance is your biggest ally in a construction site.
- Focus on your job and keep your presence of mind at all times to prevent accidents.
- Never handle equipment you did not receive any training for.
- Always put back tools and materials where they are supposed to be to avoid slips and falls.
- Be mindful of your co-workers because you do not want to be the cause of someone else’s injuries.
- Avoid overexertion and drink lots of water to prevent dehydration and fainting.
- Listen to the warnings of your supervisor and co-workers.
- Follow the safety regulations of your construction firm.
- Learn what to do in case of an accident to prevent panic.
Contact an Experienced Attorney
You need an experienced lawyer who deals with personal injury damages to get full worker’s compensation benefits. This will prevent anyone, such as your employer or an insurance agent, from belittling your claim or refusing to pay for benefits. For serious injuries, seek legal representation to receive compensation.
After all, you experience pain, lost wages, and mental duress as you get back on your feet. You may also face continued medical expenses from future medical treatments like rehabilitation or therapy for fractures.
If you need help, get in touch with our team at Breakstone, White & Gluck. We have helped many construction workers receive benefits which they need to recover. Let us assist you in securing a solid claim because you deserve it.