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.
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.
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.
Even in a career as physical and potentially dangerous as construction, you have the right to a workplace free of unnecessary hazards, with comprehensive training on how to navigate it safely.
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.
Tell us about your concern and request a free, no obligation, confidential legal consultation.
Since the onset of the pandemic, construction workers have had to face even more dangerous workplaces than usual. The standard problems of falls and equipment accidents haven’t gone away, only been compounded by the contagion risk that now permeates all non-remote forms of work.
As usual, however, employers have a moral obligation to make workplaces as safe as they can reasonably be, no matt...