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Top Causes of Construction Accidents

By David Boehrer | Posted on April 06, 2020

Putting work schedules and building costs before worker safety is a common factor in many construction site accidents. Workers facing rushed deadlines and lack of personal protection equipment often suffer catastrophic injuries.

Construction Work Poses Dangers

Most construction projects are built around scheduling deadlines, cost of building supplies and equipment, skilled workers, and timely completion dates. These factors are essential to avoid client conflicts and gain repeat business. However, many employers push workers to complete jobs in a hurry with the lowest possible expenses, leaving them exposed to significant dangers from construction accidents and injuries. When jobs are rushed and supplies and equipment are inadequate, construction safety protocols quickly fall by the wayside.

Many construction accidents uncover violations of Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) safety rules. OSHA has strict safety regulations and guidelines to protect construction workers from injury. According to OSHA statistics, the most common construction accidents are caused by:

  • Lack of personal protection equipment (PPE)
  • Missing guard rails
  • Tripping hazards
  • Defective power tools
  • Malfunctioning equipment
  • Unsafe building site conditions

Construction sites are usually unstable by nature. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, more than 25 percent of construction workers have been injured on the job. Construction sites are filled with all types of equipment including tractors and bulldozers, concrete mixers, electrical equipment, power tools and hand tools, scaffolding, and moving vehicles. All of these items have the potential to cause significant injuries, even death to construction workers. OSHA and the Bureau of Labor Statistics report over 150,000 construction site accidents each year, and one out of five workers fatalities are in construction.

Top Five Construction Accidents

Falls from Heights

Construction workers often perform their jobs from high places such as rooftops, scaffolding, and ladders. Falling from heights is the most common construction accident, accounting for 35 percent of construction injuries. One of the most dangerous pieces of equipment is one of the simplest – a ladder. Falls from ladders for construction workers are the leading cause of injuries and deaths, accounting for one out of every 18 injuries.

While working 10 to 30 feet off the ground is always risky, falls from those heights can be fatal without proper safety equipment. Falls from ladders most commonly occur when workers use the wrong type of ladder, set the ladder up improperly, miss a rung, or lose their balance from climbing or over-reaching for tools. Falls from ladders and scaffolding are a leading cause of construction injuries seen by workers compensation attorneys.

Machinery Accidents

Construction sites are filled with various types of machinery including tractors, bulldozers, cranes, electrical equipment, jackhammers, power tools, and moving vehicles. Construction workers regularly operate a variety of dangerous machinery on a daily basis which can cause serious injury. Heavy machinery and moving vehicles often cause crushing injuries, limb amputations, and internal organ damage. Defective electrical equipment and power tools, as well as downed power lines, are responsible for many burns and electrocutions on construction job sites.

Slip and Falls

When construction work is going on, it’s common to see all types of materials and debris lying around a job site. Piles of lumber, boxes of roofing shingles, stacks of siding and sheetrock, electrical wiring, screws and nails, and various other materials lying around create the perfect conditions for slip and fall accidents. If workers are working on different levels, slippery surfaces caused by water, paint, and other liquids can lead to serious falls to lower levels.

Explosions and Fires

Construction work commonly includes installing gas lines which creates risks of explosions and fires for workers. Gas leaks can spark sudden fires and explosions that have fatal consequences. If exposed electrical wires or downed power lines are lying around the job site, gas leaks can ignite those wires. Henderson workers compensation attorneys see many construction workers who suffer burns from explosions set off by intense triple-digit heat conditions on Nevada construction sites during summer months.

Trench Collapses

Trenches and ground excavations are often necessary on construction sites. When excavations are done, the ground and surrounding areas become unstable. In some cases, this leads to the collapse of buildings, outdoor structures, and trenches. Workers caught in the collapse are often buried or pinned by falling objects, wedged into trenches with no escape route, hit in the head by falling debris, or killed by heavy materials.

One of the main causes of workplace injuries and fatalities is the failure to identify workplace hazards that can injure workers. OSHA requires all employers to implement safety regulations and identify workplace hazards by performing regular inspections of work areas and equipment. Employers are required to provide adequate PPE equipment for construction workers including hard hats, safety goggles, work gloves, and work boots. If workers are exposed to toxic chemicals or flammable liquids and gases, PPE equipment must include fire-retardant clothing and face masks.

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