The Occupational and Health Administration (OSHA) has operated under a single mission statement since its inception on April 28, 1971: “to assure safe and healthful working conditions for working men and women by setting and enforcing standards and providing training, outreach, education and assistance.” In the last 48 years, the workplace fatality rate has dropped 62%, and occupational injury and illness fatality rates have been reduced by 42%. However, there is one industry that remains dangerous despite OSHA’s efforts: the construction industry.
There are over 4,500 worker fatalities in the United States each year. Construction workers represent approximately 20.7% of this statistic, with 1 out of 5 workplace fatalities taking place at a construction site. The top four causes of fatal – and preventable – construction accidents are known as the “fatal four” for their high rate of incidence; in fact, the fatal four were responsible for 60% of all construction worker deaths in 2017.
The “fatal four” are as follows:
- Falls – OSHA estimates that falls are responsible for 39.2% of all construction accident deaths each year. In 2017, about 381 workers were killed after falling from considering heights while performing their daily job duties. According to OSHA, companies can implement the following preventative measures to decrease fall rates at construction sites: create mandatory training opportunities, purchase better scaffolding materials, and provide life-saving safety equipment like clips, hoists, and pulleys.
- Struck by object – Any object that falls or is thrown down from a great height is incredibly dangerous to anyone situated at ground level. Even a bolt blown loose from a bursting pipe or a nail dropped from a roof can injure or kill a person. Sadly, being “struck” by an object accounts for nearly 10% of all construction accident deaths. Per this statistic, about 90 people a year die from preventable accidents, mishaps, and errors. The best way to decrease these incidents is to supply employees with better safety equipment and make sure they wear hard hats at all times.
- Electrocutions – Over 70 construction workers were killed in accidents involving electrocutions in 2017. Unfortunately, this is one of the key hazards of the industry, and not just for professional electricians. Construction workers are annually killed in incidents caused by faulty wiring, defective transformers, and countless other electrical hazards. For this reason, all construction site employees need to undergo extensive safety training to reduce their chances of sustaining life-threatening injuries.
- Caught-in/between – This odd term might require a little clarification for those outside the industry. Construction workers work with large machines, testy vehicles, and heavy equipment on a daily basis. When something breaks down, the construction worker may have to go inside the machine to fix it. Machinery defects or an act of coworker negligence may cause the machine to turn back on, resulting in the worker’s death. Of course, there are also situations where an employee has been struck by an object or vehicle and trapped against another. This umbrella term also encompasses situations where an employee is killed by a collapsing structure or material. According to OSHA reports, these incidents (and more) lead to about 50 construction worker fatalities annually.
Do You Require Legal Representation? Contact The Stewart Law Firm, PLLC Today
Contact the attorneys at The Stewart Law Firm, PLLC if you or a loved one has been injured or killed in a construction site accident. Our skilled legal team can investigate the incident, collect evidence that pinpoints a negligent party, and help you pursue workers’ compensation benefits and/or third-party damages. With our help, you may be able to collect a recovery that covers your medical costs, lost wages, and more.
We’re available 24/7! Contact The Stewart Law Firm, PLLC at (512) 271-5112 to schedule a case evaluation.