Over ten million people in the U.S have made a career out of building the structures we use every day. The construction industry quite literally shapes the world around us, and the people who make it possible deserve to take pride in creating things that others will use and enjoy for years to come.
Unfortunately, construction is also one of the most dangerous careers in the U.S today. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), 1.34% of full-time construction workers were injured on the job in 2015. That’s tens of thousands of individuals nationwide in just one year, many of whose lives will never be the same. The injury rate rises to 2.7% in Georgia, and 6.6% for those who work on Georgia’s highways, streets, and bridges.
In that same unremarkable year, construction workers made up 19% of all work-related hospitalizations and 10% of work-related accidental amputations, second only to manufacturing workers. Yes, amputations, meaning limbs torn off or destroyed beyond repair during work.
It goes without saying that these injuries, sometimes catastrophic, drastically affect quality of life not only for the survivors, but also for the families who depend on them.
What Causes Construction Accidents?
More often than not, construction site accidents can and should be prevented through adherence to the safety code. Circumventing or ignoring construction site safety regulations is tragically typical, however, often leading to lost lives, limbs, and livelihoods.
The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) lists the most common safety code violations on construction sites as:
- Inadequate fall protection
- Unsafe scaffolding
- Unsafe or improperly used ladders
- Lack of fall prevention training
- Eye and face protection not being used
- Inadequate hazard communication
- Head protection not being used
- Improper use or maintenance of aerial lifts
Construction workers can protect themselves by wearing protective gear and abiding by all procedures and warnings. Of course, this only works if employers provide the necessary training and equipment. Workers can also proactively report unsafe conditions to OSHA, with legal protection from workplace retaliation. Many are uncomfortable doing this, however, and it is the responsibility of the employer, not the employee, to be able to recognize code violations at construction premises in the first place.
Common Construction Site Injuries
As you might guess from the top four code violations, falls are the most frequent type of construction site accident. In fact, falls account for a full third of construction injuries, according to the Center for Construction Research and Training. This includes falling into trenches and manholes, falling from upper levels into lower levels, and falling from ladders, scaffolds, and lifts.
Other common types of injuries include:
- On-site vehicle accidents
- Being struck by falling objects
- Exposure to the elements
- Exposure to hazardous materials
Hazards of Working Outdoors
Working outdoors is a standard part of a construction job, but that doesn’t mean the dangers of exposure should be taken any less seriously on construction sites than anywhere else. On the contrary, exposure precautions are essential to the well-being of workers who battle the elements every day. Shade, water, and rest breaks can be the difference between a productive workday and being hospitalized with heat exhaustion. Responsible employers should not only allow but encourage healthy preventative practices during working hours.
On-site vehicle accidents can also be particularly treacherous, with the combination of heavy machinery and busy construction crews. In addition to the usual vehicular danger of fractures, concussions, and spinal injuries, construction workers can often end up pinned between or behind vehicles, leading to crushed bones, severed limbs, and death.
Your Employer Is Responsible for Your Safety
While the above statistics are based on reported injuries, OSHA estimates that the rate of unreported incidents may be as high as 50%. Sadly, the laws and regulations in place to protect workers are not universally followed, and violations are often covered up.
Employers have been known to buy required safety equipment after an accident has already occurred and intimidate workers into pretending it was available all along. In one instance, a company went so far as to try to block an OSHA inspection by parking forklifts in front of the doors and turning off all the lights. These are just a few concealment attempts that OSHA knows about; there could be many more that have gone unexposed.
Are Regulations for Safety at Your Construction Site Followed?
Construction site safety regulations are clear and extensive, and failure to follow them puts the lives and well-being of workers at risk.
Your employer is likely well aware of the responsibility to provide that safe workplace and safety training. Before writing off an injury as clumsiness, or as the inherent risk of construction work, think seriously about whether your employer has lived up to this vital obligation. You may need to consult a construction accident attorney to find out if your employer violated safety regulations.
What to Do If You’ve Been Injured in a Construction Accident
If you’ve been injured while working on a construction site, seek immediate medical attention, and follow your employer’s procedure for accident reporting. What happens to this report depends on your employer’s internal policies and level of honesty.
Remember, even the most law-abiding company will always consider the bottom line. Your employer has every incentive to keep your accident as quiet and inexpensive as possible. You might find yourself facing pressure and intimidation, on top of the physical and emotional consequences of the injury itself.
Having an expert on your side can make all the difference in these situations. Give the Stoddard Firm a call at 678-RESULT, or contact us online for a free consultation on how we can help.
FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
Do I have a case?
If you’ve been injured because of someone else’s negligence, you could have a personal injury case. Every situation is different, so there’s no way to know if you have a case without consulting with a qualified personal injury attorney. If you are badly injured or a loved one has died, we are happy to speak with you and investigate the matter at no charge.
How do I pick the right attorney?
You’ll want to look for several qualities when choosing who will represent you. Your attorney should meet with you instead of sending an investigator, and he/she should be available throughout the process instead of having you consistently talk to a legal assistant. Your attorney should have a low number of cases so he/she can devote significant time to you and your case. Your attorney should have experience handling cases with facts similar to yours, and your attorney should have a proven track record with similar claims. Your attorney should also be able to devote significant money to your case so that he/she can hire experts, travel the country finding witnesses, and depose whomever is necessary to achieve justice. It’s also important to make sure your attorney is the right fit on a personal level, which is why you should take advantage of a free consultation.
What do I need to bring with me to the consultation?
For your free consultation, bring all relevant documents that you’ve collected regarding your case. If there are police reports, bills or correspondence from insurance companies, you’ll want to bring those items to the consultation so an attorney can learn as much about your case as possible.
How much time do I have to file a lawsuit?
There is a time limit on how long a person has after an injury to begin a lawsuit. This window is called a statute of limitations. For most personal injury cases in Georgia, the statute of limitations is two years from the time the injury was suffered. However, there are exceptions and subtleties that might change the amount of time you are afforded. Sometimes the period can be as short as 6 months, and other times it can be much longer than two years. Determining the statute of limitations requires a detailed analysis of the facts of your case.
What do your services cost?
A consultation with the Stoddard Law Firm is free. In most circumstances, we earn no fee unless we win your case. If your claim is successful, we take a percentage of the recovered amount.
What has to be proven in a premises liability case?
A successful premises liability claim must show that a hazardous condition exposed you to an unreasonable risk of harm and that the property owner failed to exercise reasonable care to maintain a safe premises. Common examples include slippery floors, unstable structures, broken handrails, stairs not built to code, scalding apartment shower water, natural gas explosions, electrical shocks, and improperly fenced swimming pools. There are several factors that can make or break a case, which is why it’s important to work with an experienced lawyer who can thoroughly investigate the situation.
How is negligent security different from premises liability?
Negligent security is a type of premises liability. These claims arise when a person is assaulted on someone else’s property by a third-party. Owners of apartment complexes, hotels, gas stations, and other retail establishments can sometimes be held liable if their inadequate security practices contributed to the attack. Such practices include failure to warn of prior crimes, inadequate lighting, broken access gates, broken locks, and failure to provide security guards.
How can an attorney help me?
Whether your injury was mild or severe, proving fault for premises liability can be a complex process. The standard of care owed by the property owner is made up of many factors and, in some cases, the hazardous conditions may no longer exist. A skilled premises liability attorney knows how to gather and preserve the necessary evidence – and how to defend you against accusations that you should have known about the dangerous condition.
How do I choose an attorney?
There are a lot of lawyers out there, so it’s important to select one that you feel comfortable with and who inspires confidence. Choose one who has experience with the type of claim you have, is qualified, has a good reputation in the legal community, and seems dedicated to helping you win your case.
How do I pay an attorney?
The Stoddard Firm handles litigation on a contingency basis. This means we accept a percentage of the amount we recover for you. If your claim does not have a successful resolution, we do not collect any fee. We are also pleased to offer free consultations.