Despite overwhelming knowledge of the many hazards and potential hazards that a worker may come in contact with in the construction industry, construction sites are often poorly maintained, inadequately supervised, and ongoing dangerous conditions remain unaddressed. In an environment and with business practices which favor accomplishing construction projects as quickly as possible, workers and employers (in violation of required standards) may forgo safety for the sake of getting a project done in a more timely albeit dangerous fashion.
Guardrails may be too quickly installed, erection of scaffolding may be rushed, and heavy machinery could be operated endangering or otherwise in conflict with other workers at the site. It is not surprising that one of every five work-related deaths in the U.S. occurs at a construction site (as reported by the U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration; OSHA).
In 2013 alone, more than half of on-the-job deaths were attributed to just four types of construction accidents. According to OSHA, if these four dangers were properly addressed, nearly 500 workers’ lives would be saved each year and countless other injuries would be averted. These hazards/dangers are known as the “Fatal Four:”
- Falls are the number one most commonly cited cause of death at construction sites; many of which could be prevented with adequate fall protection. Failure to prevent fatal falls from ladders, scaffolding, between floors and down elevator shafts are OSHA safety violations and cause for legal action.
- Electrocutions claimed the lives of 71 workers in 2013. Common causes of electrocution include: failing to ensure that electric current is turned off or a ground fault is provided, and, poor communication among workers.
- Being struck by an object: whether it be tools falling from a scaffold or a moving vehicle backing up, etc., hazards of this nature caused 81 construction worker deaths in 2013.
- Getting caught in or between objects: Including entrapment in or by vehicles, and injuries from improperly shored trenches which then collapse. These types of hazards claimed the lives of 21 construction workers in 2013.
The referenced dangers, hazards and accidents result in hundreds of deaths each year, and cause thousands more serious injuries which greatly impact upon a worker’s earning capacity, health and quality of life, for both them and their families. Depending upon the severity of the injuries suffered, a construction worker can be left totally or partially disabled and they can incur significant economic losses, including lost wages and liability surrounding their responsibility to pay part or all of the costs associated with the treatment of their injuries.
If you or someone you love has been injured in a work-related accident at a New Jersey construction site, you may be entitled to take legal action in addition to pursuing workers’ compensation benefits.