Every job, whether on an oil rig or in a bank, has its risks. However, some jobs put workers at a higher risk of injury than others. One common example is the construction industry, where the reality and statistics of worker injuries are concerning. With nearly 200,000 injuries per year, the construction industry is far from one of the safest.
These construction accidents can be fatal, and workers risk losing a limb rather than losing their jobs. As a result, determining the causes of these accidents can assist one in being more cautious and significantly reduce the risk of severe or fatal injuries.
Let’s go over some of the causes of construction worker accidents and what to do afterward.
Why Are Construction Accidents Frequent?
Falling Heavy Objects
A construction site scene is characterized by a variety of heavy objects. These objects are not only heavy, but they may also be sharp and lethal. The majority are metals dangling from platforms, held loosely by construction workers on elevated platforms, or not securely attached to their parent equipment.
Objects can fall from great heights at any time, claiming a life or causing severe injuries in the event of a minor error. A construction site’s environment is potentially dangerous at any time, and only the best safety measures can limit construction accidents. Consider all of the tools, scaffolds, metal ladders, and heavy machinery that litter a construction yard; the majority of them are heavier than the average human.
Hazardous Electrical Installations and Equipment
Another factor that contributes to construction accidents among construction workers is the presence of electrical installations and equipment. Regardless of the precautions and safety measures in place, human errors are unavoidable, and when they do, the consequences are disastrous.
The margin for error is always high because these construction workers are simply human, from a lack of situational awareness to negligence and a lack of proper communication between workers. As a result, electrocution is the third leading cause of fatal construction accidents worldwide.
Common examples of electrocution and its causes include:
- A worker might get lost in thought and fail to use a hand glove or forget to switch off the mains before engaging a piece of electrical equipment.
- There could also be an electrical fault in the equipment left undetected and posing a threat of electrocution.
- A worker moving a ladder that comes into contact with an overhead electrical connection is left bare.
- A coworker switched on the power without the knowledge of his colleague engaged in electrical work.
Slippery Liquid Elements
Most construction sites use oils and other viscous liquids in their daily operations. These liquid elements can cause workers to slip, trip, or summersault, resulting in serious, even fatal, injuries.
Again, the human condition of inevitability leads to terrible situations that result in accidents. A worker spills oil on a platform by mistake and makes a mental note to clean it later, but completely forgets. Another worker, oblivious to what’s on the floor, takes a giant stride across it without looking down, then trips and falls, suffering serious injuries.
The nature of the environment or elements around us contributed to the mishap.
Handy and Power Tools
Many hands and power tools are used for various operations that expose workers to injury risks. When workers fail to use drill bits, nail guns, sanders, and other pneumatic power tools carefully, they can easily cause cuts.
Several workplaces have reported nail guns firing into people’s hands or drill bits driving into people’s feet. A lack of maintenance can occasionally cause the tool to malfunction and injure the user. Aside from power tools, hand tools such as a hammer, shovel, and saw can be hazardous to users.
One of the most common causes of fatal injuries and deaths in the construction industry is becoming caught in machinery. If the worker survives, he or she may be permanently disabled, making it one of the worst types of injuries in the industry.
Getting caught between two complicated machines or a machine with an opening can result in a worker being ground into bits, having an arm or leg amputated, or being strangled. A whirlwind is sometimes required to blow a piece of clothing into the machine and entangle the worker. This is hardly a scenario that anyone can predict or avoid.
Some common injuries resulting from complicated machinery or even ordinary machinery include:
- Getting caught between heavy metal sheets with unreliable securing bands
- Working beneath a vehicle while wearing loose clothing that becomes entangled in a moving part of the engine
- Getting crushed between a vehicle and a wall due to an error by the driver.
Lack of Structural Integrity
The construction industry isn’t just about metals and machinery. The building industry is also a part of the construction industry, and with skyscrapers in the background, it’s clear that construction workers are at risk of falling off these platforms.
When substandard materials are used to build platforms, they are more likely to collapse when workers apply pressure on them. In older buildings, poorly constructed floors can give way to pressure, resulting in a construction worker’s fall. Workers can suffer epic falls due to holes in skylights, weak wood, and other parts of a building lacking structural balance and quality.
Falls are the leading cause of fatalities in the construction industry, accounting for 34% of all fatalities, according to OSHA. While employers are required to provide adequate protection for any elevation above six feet, falls are still nearly unavoidable throughout the industry.
The Fatal Four and How to Prevent Them
OSHA identifies four critical causes of fatalities in construction sites; they are:
- Falling Objects
- Trenching (caught between two objects or machines)
In research carried out by OSHA, these four causes of injuries account for 60% of the deaths in workplaces.
However, with reasonable and adequate protection, construction accident cases can be limited.
Let’s look at various ways of preventing them on your construction site.
Accident from Falls
Accidents caused by falls are fatal due to heights, but they can be avoided in the following ways:
Before climbing a scaffold, make sure it’s strong enough to support your weight. Pushing or shaking it will reveal its structural strength. If it’s not strong, you’ll notice it by the sound and imbalance, especially if you’ve been using it.
If the scaffold is strong and dependable, make sure it is well protected with guardrails.
There are no doors or handrails on the stairs or terraces of buildings that are under construction. As a result, use adequate lighting when working in a poorly lit building.
If you are the site engineer, make everyone aware of structural issues such as cracks in the walls so they can be cautious. Holes on the floor and walls should also be covered.
When working on construction sites, wear the proper equipment, such as a protective helmet, non-slip boots, and any other protective gear required for your specific project. The work area should have protective rails on the stairs, and you should never ascend a height unless you are certain it is safe.
Accidents from Electrocution
Most electrocution accidents result in instant death, depending on the voltage that enters the human body in question.
However, prevention is possible by following the safety regulations listed below:
Wear safety boots, coveralls, gloves, and helmets before working in any area with electrical installations. Turn off the main switch before opening any appliance, and never attempt to open any electrical equipment unless you are an electrician. Also, unless you are a certified electrician, stay away from power lines entirely.
Electric shocks can occur if a technician fails to notify other personnel that a section of an installation contains exposed wires. He may believe he can fix it before anyone notices, but that may be too late.
If you are a technician repairing an electrical fault, always notify others or post a warning sign to warn other workers. Other non-technologists should be cautious of unauthorized areas with “electric shock” warnings. Always be vigilant and ask questions if you are unsure whether you are performing electrical installations correctly.
Accidents from Trenching
These are extremely unusual cases that are not only terrifying but also fatal. Anyone would not want to be sandwiched between two machines or have their clothing entangled in a piece of moving equipment. As a result, keep the following in mind:
Wear properly fitted clothing when dealing with these types of machinery to avoid being dragged by a moving vehicle or machine with your clothes as the anchor.
When working under or on machinery, you should not wear wristwatches, bracelets, necklaces, or other metal accessories. These accessories can easily become entangled with various machine parts and cause injuries if you move away unknowingly. They could rip your flesh apart, cause magnetic problems, or drag your hand into engine parts.
Accidents from Falling Objects
There’s not much you can do to avoid being injured by falling objects or machinery hitting you on the side. You can, however, mitigate the impact of the accident by wearing protective gear such as a helmet, hard hat, safety boots, overalls, and gloves. This gear will protect you not only from falling objects, but also from other hazards such as electrocution, power tool cuts, and slippage on oily surfaces.
Also, pay attention. Keep an eye out for suspended loads and avoid getting too close to them. If you need to walk underneath to get to your workstation, notify the operator so he can temporarily halt activity.
How Employers Can Make Construction Sites Safer for Workers
On a construction site, safety should take precedence over all other concerns. The loss of life or serious injury is not a minor issue that will go away with time. These are sometimes irreversible losses, and injured construction workers bear the brunt of them for the rest of their lives, assuming they survive.
In light of this stark reality, construction company employers must provide adequate safety equipment (in accordance with New York labor laws) and training for all employees, as well as ensure that all equipment is in working order.
Equipment can fail at any time, no matter how strong or reliable it is. As a result, checking their optimal functionality on a regular basis is part of the safety implementation process. If there is a minor flaw or a potential problem, managing the equipment is not an option; only total repair or replacement is. Even if humans strive to follow safety rules, the risks remain high if the machines fail.
What to Do When Injured as a Construction Worker?
If an unfortunate construction accident causes injuries on an NYC construction site, the first step is to notify your supervisor so that proper documentation can be created. If the supervisor is not available, notify the next person in the chain of command.
Next, look for a personal injury lawyer to represent you in a personal injury lawsuit if your employer fails to compensate you or manage the situation fairly. Choose an attorney who has handled personal injury cases for many years to ensure you receive your compensation.
Get Help From the Right Law Firm
When our experienced personal injury legal teams work on your case after proper evaluation, you get the workers’ compensation benefits you deserve at Dervishi Law Group. If you have a loved one or a friend who has been injured at work, please contact us so that we can provide them with the compensation they deserve.
We are well-known in New York for representing injured workers and filing workers’ compensation claims. Our legal team will not charge you attorney fees unless you receive compensation.