5 Common Construction Site Accidents That Can Lead to Death
According to the latest data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, there were 4,764 fatal work injuries reported in the U.S. in 2020. Workers in transportation and material moving occupations and construction and extraction occupations accounted for nearly half of those (47.4 percent), representing 1,282 and 967 workplace deaths, respectively.
The Center for Construction Research and Training (CPWR) notes that construction is one of the most dangerous industries in the U.S. As the weather warms across the country, these workers will be out on the roads and building sites once again. While every job site is unique, data shows that there are five common sources of serious injuries to construction workers.
1. Vehicle Accidents
Vehicles play a role in a high percentage of construction accidents. The average construction worker is likely to find themselves working around many different vehicles, including transport trucks, dump trucks, concrete mixer trucks, bulldozers, front loaders, cranes, excavators, and more.
These vehicles are inherently dangerous to workers. Drivers and workers need to follow safety guidelines and communicate clearly to avoid accidents. Distractions, loud noises, and other factors can increase the risk that someone will get hurt.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) notes that falls are the number-one cause of construction-worker fatalities, accounting for one-third of all on-the-job deaths in the industry. Most of them are preventable as long as companies do their job to plan, provide the right equipment, and properly train workers.
Construction workers frequently work on elevated surfaces. A scaffold, which is a temporary platform, may collapse if not properly assembled. Workers may also fall off roofs or ladders, or fall through holes that are not adequately highlighted.
3. Electrical Injuries
The Occupational Safety & Health Administration (OSHA) notes that many workers “are unaware of the potential electrical hazards present in their work environment, which makes them more vulnerable to the danger of electrocution.” The most frequent causes of electrical injuries include contact with power lines, lack of ground-fault protection, equipment not used in the manner prescribed, and improper use of extension and flexible cords.
Workers may suffer from electrical burns, respiratory arrest, heart attack, and damage to the central nervous system.
4. Struck-By Object
This is another common cause of fatal work injuries: the worker is struck by something and killed because of it. A vehicle, machine, or falling object can hit them. Sometimes materials collapse or drop unexpectedly, crushing workers. At any construction site, there are numerous pieces of heavy equipment, large objects, and loose debris that can pose this type of safety risk. Employers must take steps to ensure proper communication and safety protocols.
5. Caught By/In Between
Caught-by accidents can happen anywhere. They involve the victim getting caught between pieces of a machine or amidst debris. They may be crushed, squeezed, pinched, or compressed between two or more objects. Machinery roll-overs and cave-ins from unprotected trenches are included in this category.
In most cases, construction worker deaths attributed to these and other hazards can be blamed on lax safety standards enforcement, inadequate training, and human error. If you are a victim of one of these types of accidents, you have a right to file for workers’ compensation benefits, and may be able to bring claims outside of workers’ compensation under certain circumstances.