Working in construction is one of the most-dangerous occupations in the United States. According to the U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), approximately one out of every five work-related deaths occur in the construction industry, and an unknown number of construction workers are seriously injured in accidents every year.
Why is working in construction so dangerous? While some may say it is the nature of the job, the reality is that no one should be forced to work under conditions that jeopardize their health and safety. Yet, construction companies and contractors routinely fall short of meeting their obligations to their workers, failing to provide safety equipment, training and other safeguards that are essential to preventing avoidable workplace injuries and fatalities.
The following are eight of the most-common causes of construction accidents based on OSHA statistics:
Falls top OSHA’s list of the “Fatal Four” – the four most-common construction site accidents that lead to fatalities. Lack of adequate fall protection, dangerous ladders and faulty scaffolding are all common factors in serious and fatal construction site falls.
Fourth on OSHA’s list of the Fatal Four is, being “caught-in or compressed by equipment or objects, and struck, caught, or crushed in collapsing structure, equipment, or material.” Common examples of these types of accidents include being pinned by reversing vehicles and being struck when materials fall from forklifts and delivery trucks.
Being struck by flying and falling objects – including tools, construction materials and debris – comes in second on OSHA’s Fatal Four. From failing to supply hardhats to not installing proper guards on saws and other pieces of machinery, there are numerous safety issues that can cause and contribute to these types of injuries.
Electrocution is the third-leading cause of death on construction sites. This includes electrocutions resulting from inadequate lockout and tagout procedures, faulty wiring and electrical components, and faulty electrical system design.
Highway collisions are among the leading causes of death for construction workers who lose their lives on the job. Vehicle collisions can lead to serious non-fatal injuries as well, and these injuries can often lead to substantial losses for workers and their families.
Second only to inadequate fall protection, lack of appropriate hazard communication is among the most-frequently-cited safety violations cited on construction sites.
Lack of respiratory protection is also among the leading construction site safety violations. According to OSHA, “[c]ompliance with the OSHA Respiratory Protection Standard could avert hundreds of deaths and thousands of illnesses annually.”
Accidents involving powered industrial trucks (or forklifts) are a leading cause of construction worker injuries and deaths as well. While different types of forklifts can present certain unique risks, according to OSHA, some of the most-common factors in powered industrial truck accidents include, “when (1) lift trucks are inadvertently driven off loading docks; (2) lifts fall between docks and an unsecured trailer; (3) [workers] are struck by a lift truck; or (4) [workers] fall while on elevated pallets and tines.”
If you have been injured or a loved one has been killed in a Jacksonville construction accident, contact an experienced attorney as soon as possible.