Every year, thousands of workers are injured on the job at construction sites. The unfortunate reality for many of these workers is that their medical expenses tend to exceed their current salary and impose hardship on family members. Those who have been injured on a construction site may have been injured through no fault of their own.
An employer may have failed to abide by its duty to provide a safe work atmosphere or the safety equipment that workers need to do their job. If you or a loved one has been injured on a construction site, then it may be time for you to consult with personal injury lawyers about your legal options. Construction accident attorneys can help you file a worker’s compensation claim or lawsuit for any excess expenses that you have and that are not covered by worker’s comp or insurance.
Statistics for Prevalence of Fatal Work Injuries at Construction Sites
At construction sites, thousands of workers are at risk for being involved in an accident that results in injury. Over the last 10 years, the statistics for the number of fatal work injuries has remained consistent. In 2012, over 4,300 individuals suffered from fatal work injuries on construction sites. This compares with data that indicates numerous workers were also victims of fatal injuries in previous years:
- 2011: 4,693
- 2010: 4,690
- 2009: 4,551
- 2008: 5,214
- 2007: 5,657
- 2006: 5,840
- 2005: 5,734
- 2004: 5,764
- 2003: 5,575
- 2002: 5,534
In 2012, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics indicates that there was a 7 percent decrease in the number of injuries from those reported in 2011. Despite this decrease, there is still a need to hold construction firms accountable for the conditions of construction sites. In 2012, the statistics also reveal the types of accidents resulting in fatal work injuries for construction workers were as follows:
- Transportation Incidents: 41%
- Falls to lower level: 12%
- Struck by object or equipment: 12%
- Homicides: 11%
- Fires and Explosions: 3%
- Exposure to harmful substances or chemicals:7%
- Violence and injuries by people or animals: 17%
The only way to ensure that construction sites will continue to monitor the risks posed to workers on construction sites is to hold them accountable through legal processes or the use of OSHA inspections. If a construction company knows that it may be liable to pay millions of dollars for fatal injuries impacting a worker and his or her loved ones, then the company may take precautionary measures in preparing a construction site for work.
Types of Precautions Companies Must Take
A construction site has to ensure that it meets certain regulations put forth by OSHA. OSHA requires that a construction company maintain guard rails on scaffolds that are more than six feet from the ground, that workers have protective gear at all times and are aware of any dangerous conditions on a worksite. If there are harmful chemicals located on a construction site, then a construction site must also warn workers about the existence of this substance.
Construction companies commonly fail to install the necessary guardrail systems on scaffolds. This accounts for the fact that over 20 percent of workers fall from scaffolds that are over 30 feet from the ground. Over 14 percent of workers fall from scaffolds that are only 11 to 15 feet from the ground.
There are multiple parties that may be liable in a construction site accident case. A personal injury lawyer often has a keen understanding of the duties owed by the various parties involved in a construction project. It is the job of a lawyer to identify which parties may have failed to meet a duty of care to a construction employee who has been injured on the site. The following parties are some of the individuals who may be sued in a lawsuit involving an injury related to a construction accident:
- Construction Site Owner
- General Contractor
- Construction Equipment Manufacturers
A general contractor or subcontractor has a duty to ensure that a construction site is maintained in a reasonably safe manner for workers. A construction equipment manufacturer may be liable in the event that it has created a defective product for use by construction employees. The Occupation Safety and Health Act of 1970 also maintains that employers owe general duties that include:
- Providing a workplace free of hazards that can result in injury or death
- Ensure that employees have access to equipment that can prevent injury or death
- Ensure all practices of one’s own construction company are in compliance with standards of the construction industry
If a construction employee has been injured and suspects that an employer was failing to abide by OSHA regulations or meet its duties under the law, then a personal injury lawyer may be able to help. A personal injury lawyer with knowledge of regulations can ensure that your case is researched and that any parties are held accountable for their failure to act in accordance with the law.
Illinois Construction Site Statistics
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, Illinois is one of the states that leads in its construction site statistics for fatal work injuries. In 2012, Illinois had a total of 145 workers who experienced fatal work injuries on a construction site. There are over 202,000 people who work in the construction industry in Illinois.
Out of these thousands of people who work on sites that may have hazardous conditions, there are over 2,000 who receive injuries that do not result in fatalities. These 2,000 individuals who suffer from injuries often must take over 1,500 days off of work. This means that these individuals may not be able to continue to provide the main source of income for a family.
It is interesting to note that over 4,600 workers experienced fatal work injuries in the United States in 2011. The fact that 721 of these fatal work injuries took place in the construction industry reveals just how common this issue is in Illinois. As stated, Illinois had 145 workers who experienced fatal work injuries. This means that over 20 percent of the total workforce receiving fatal injuries in the construction industry were within Illinois. OSHA inspectors in Illinois must pay more attention to the conditions on construction sites as they perform inspections.
The Role of the Occupational Safety & Health Administration
OSHA is responsible for performing inspections of construction worksites in the United States. It is impossible for OSHA to prevent every workplace injury, as many construction firms are simply negligent due to budget concerns. In addition, there may be numerous work-related injuries that go unreported or that are settled outside of court. Because of this, a formal complaint may never be filed with OSHA and trigger an investigation or inspection of the construction site premises.
Once OSHA receives a complaint that a worker has been injured on a construction site, it will send an inspector out to the site. The inspector will spend time gathering notes and photos of the worksite to perform an assessment of the company. If there are severe deficiencies in the safety equipment, training provided to employees or lack of warnings posted on a worksite, then an inspector may issue a citation to a company.
The construction site company may then be forced to face sanctions, such as high fines. There are 2,200 inspectors who are responsible for carrying out inspections performed by the OSHA office. These inspectors are responsible for performing inspections at over 8 million construction sites throughout the U.S. However, because there is only one inspector available for every 59,000 workers, it is unclear whether inspectors may have their hands full and be unable to devote adequate attention to each inspection or assessment of a company.
Most Common Causes of Construction Site Injuries
OSHA has put forth official statistics in regards to the most common causes of construction site injuries in the U.S. These statistics indicate that the following causes most commonly resulted in severe injuries for workers in 2012:
Most Common OSHA Citations
OSHA also keeps track of the citations that is offers for construction companies in violation of existing regulations every year. In 2013, OSHA has indicated that these are the most common citations that have been issued to construction companies:
- Fall protection
- Hazard communication standard
- Respiratory protection
- Electrical and wiring methods
- Powered industrial trucks
- Control of hazardous energy
- Electric systems design
- Machine guarding
If you or a loved one has been seriously injured on a construction site, then you should get in touch with a personal injury lawyer as soon as possible. A personal injury lawyer can help assess which OSHA regulations have been violated in your case and can develop your case based upon this violation. You or a loved one deserve to receive compensation for injuries that suffered from the negligence of construction employers.