The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) keeps track of all occupational injuries and deaths that occur on the job, and according to them, the deadliest of all professions is construction. The construction industry accounts for more than a fifth of all on-the-job accidents in the United States, with an average of twenty on-the-job fatalities every year in New York City alone. And in construction, most fatal accidents can be attributed to four causes, which OSHA has dubbed the “Fatal Four:” falls, being struck by an object, electrocutions, and caught-in/between accidents.
The most common kind of accident, falls, account for about a third of all construction deaths, and can have many possible causes. Construction workers, after all, often work on elevated or suspended platforms, and it is easy to fall from one of these platforms, resulting in injury and death. This risk of injury is exacerbated when contractors and work site owners do not take appropriate steps to prevent falls, which may include providing workers with protective gear, installing safety nets, or equipping workers with personal arrest systems that will stop them from falling.
The second most common kind of fatal accident is getting struck by an object, typically a falling object. This might be the result of a construction worker dropping tools or parts, or from debris falling from a raised platform. In cases where construction is being done to restore a building in poor condition, pieces of the building itself can chip off and fall on anyone underneath. These accidents can often be prevented through careful use of tools and materials, as well as taking care to periodically remove debris from elevated platforms that could fall on people below.
After that, the third most common kind of fatal accident is the result of electrocution. Construction workers often work with equipment that runs an electrical current through it, and when they work on buildings, they may encounter exposed electrical wiring. In the former case, lockout and tagout systems are supposed to be used to ensure a worker does not make contact with energized equipment while it is turned on; in the latter case, workers are meant to work with insulated gloves and other protective gear to avoid accidental contact with electricity.
And finally, there is the fourth most common kind of fatality on construction sites, being caught in or between other objects. Put simply, this is when someone is caught under, inside, or between large, heavy objects. Construction workers often work with equipment and materials large enough to crush people if they are caught under or between them when they collapse, which they sometimes do. Additionally, workers may be caught under a collapsing structure if the building they are working on is in poor repair or was improperly constructed. Work site inspectors are supposed to be aware of these hazards and inform others of them, and special precautions are supposed to be taken with materials large and heavy enough to crush workers.
All these causes of death have one thing in common: they would happen far less often if work site owners and contractors were diligent about following safety regulations. Unfortunately, to save time or money, some people will ignore regulations and fail to take appropriate steps to prevent these sorts of injuries. As a result, construction workers are injured and killed unnecessarily, causing extraordinary harm to those unfortunate enough to fall victim to one of these accidents.
If the Fatal Four causes of construction accidents were addressed, around 600 workers’ lives would be saved every year. However, so long as work site owners and contractors put profits over people’s lives, construction workers will continue to pay the price. If one of these kinds of accidents happens to you or a loved one, you should consult a personal injury attorney right away to explore your legal options.
The personal injury attorneys at Georgaklis & Mallas, PLLC are experienced in representing clients who have been seriously injured, and the surviving family members of those who have been fatally injured, as the result of construction accidents. The firm’s accomplished personal injury lawyers strive to secure full and fair compensation for their injured clients. With law offices conveniently located in Brooklyn and Manhattan, their personal injury lawyers can vigorously represent clients throughout the metropolitan area, including, in Brooklyn, Manhattan, Staten Island, the Bronx, Queens, and New Jersey. For more information or to schedule a free consultation, please call (718) 238-2400 or fill out our contact form.