The Most Common Causes of Construction Accidents
According to an old joke, there are two seasons in Michigan: winter and construction. But construction workers know that the risks of the job are present no matter the season or time of day.
In fact, construction workers, along with extraction and transportation workers, accounted for 47% of worker deaths in 2017. Add that to the 2.8 million nonfatal workplace injuries and illnesses reported by employers and others in construction settings, and the risk of being injured is simply too high.
Here, we’re breaking down the most common causes of construction accidents, how to prevent them, and how to protect yourself and your family if you’re caught in an accident.
Construction’s Fatal Four
According to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, the four most common causes of construction site accidents are:
- Struck by an object
These Fatal Four were responsible for 63.7% of construction deaths, and eliminating them would save 631 lives every year.
Let’s take a look at what you can do to keep the Fatal Four off your job site.
Fall protection violations are among the most commonly cited safety violations in construction sites, accounting for about 38.7% of worker fatalities (more than any other individual category).
Unfortunately, that makes a lot of sense considering how much construction work is carried out at great heights. Workers can fall from scaffolding, cranes, roofs, ladders, and any number of areas. And with fatal falls at their highest level in 26 years, you don’t want to take the risk.
Why do workers fall?
Simple: lack of fall protection, and faulty structures.
This means that the fix is usually relatively straightforward. You should make sure that your job site has sufficient guardrails wherever necessary and extra safety nets just in case. Workers should also be equipped with the appropriate fall protection gear, such as harnesses and rope grabs.
Also, you should make sure the scaffold or platform or structure they’re working on is solidly built. Otherwise, you’re setting yourself up for a disaster.
Electrical safety should never be taken lightly, especially on construction sites where the possibility of injury is so much higher than normal circumstances.
Since construction workers are laying electrical systems, they’re in contact with potentially hazardous situations more often. Exposed wires are a major safety risk, as are electrically-charged metal objects and defective machinery. Many workers are unaware of minimum clearance distances as well, creating accidents that could have been prevented easily.
To avoid dangerous incidents, take the time to educate yourself and your co-workers (and revisit the training on a regular basis). Companies are always required to have and publish the safety standards they need to follow so that they can be implemented at work. Regular safety meetings and discussions are also required.
And it should be obvious, but there should be regular safety inspections from a certified professional. It’s an annoyance, but it’s better to deal with a delay than risk an injured worker.
Caught-in/between accidents are what the name implies—workers are trapped by equipment or objects or are struck by a collapsing material, structure, or piece of equipment.
For example, this category includes workers who are run over by trucks backing out of construction sites, or workers who are struck by a piece of machinery.
The most common culprit in these accidents? Subpar safety procedures and poor equipment maintenance.
The best thing you can do for your workers is make sure that they know how to work safely on a construction site. They should know how to operate a machine safely and how to make sure the machine is safe to use. They should also know what to do when around a piece of machinery (i.e. how not to put themselves at risk of getting run over).
You can also clearly mark vehicle-only areas so that workers know they shouldn’t walk there (and worker-only areas so that drivers know not to operate there).
Struck by Object
Related to caught-in/between accidents are struck by object accidents.
A common risk on construction sites is the potential for falling objects, like tools used above a worker that aren’t properly secured. There’s also the chance of falling debris, a collapsing structure, or even falling machinery.
The first step you can take is to ensure that all workers are wearing the appropriate safety gear. This will help protect them against basic accidents.
Better still is preventing the danger in the first place. For this, you need sturdy guardrails and barriers to prevent workers and tools from falling. Safety nets can also help catch falling objects before they hurt anyone.
Other Common Causes of Construction Accidents
Of course, the Fatal Four don’t encompass every construction accident that could possibly occur. There are many potential hazards that can result in nonfatal injuries, taking employees away from work while they try to pay medical bills to recover.
Here are two other common culprits in construction injuries and what you can do to stay safe.
Parts and Materials
Building materials often play a role in construction injuries, including:
- Electrical parts like switchboards and generators
As a construction worker, there’s no way to get around handling these materials. What you can do is handle them safely by wearing the proper safety gear and following the appropriate procedures.
You should also be mindful anytime you move materials. Who’s around you? Are they paying attention? If someone is doing something they shouldn’t be, they’re at risk of getting injured.
Unsurprisingly, the tools of the trade are also a major player in construction accidents. This includes things like:
- Knives and boxcutters
- Hammers and other striking tools
- Surfacing tools like sanders
The single best thing you can do to prevent injuries caused by tools? Use the tool for its intended purpose—and only for its intended purpose.
You should also implement lockout/tagout procedures for tools anytime they’re not being used. Tools not being used should be inspected to ensure they’re in proper working order.
If You’re the Victim of a Construction Accident
Sometimes, even the best intentions can’t prevent construction accidents.
When that happens, you need an attorney that will protect you.
If you’re involved in a personal injury case, timing is critical. You need to secure evidence, statements and photos to get your case in motion quickly. To do that, its best to get a qualified attorney experienced in this area of law. That’s where we come in.
At Giroux Pappas Trial Attorneys, our experienced personal injury attorneys know what it takes to win. More importantly, they know how much it means to you to protect your family’s peace of mind. If you’ve been involved in a construction accident, get in touch for a free consultation today so that you can stop worrying about medical bills and focus on getting better.