In 2018, 1 in 5 worker deaths were in the construction industry, according to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA). Despite doing your best to train your team, these fatalities and injuries can occur for a variety of reasons and, aside from presenting a terrifying situation for your team if they are injured, they also present a significant legal risk for your business.
If you have an employee who has been injured on a jobsite, it’s crucial that you contact one of our Naples construction attorneys who will discuss your legal obligations, including reporting the incident to OSHA in a timely manner, contacting the insurance company, and ways to keep your employees safe going forward. However, you can start by understanding the common fatalities and injuries and how to prevent them.
What Are the Most Common Causes of Injuries and Fatalities on the Jobsite?
Construction injuries can be caused by a number of factors, including repetitive motion and muscle strain. However, there are four injuries that OSHA deems the “Fatal Four.” These injuries include those caused by the following:
- Struck by Object
In many cases, these injuries and deaths can be avoided by simple preparation and proper training and equipment. Our team of Naples construction lawyers can provide guidance on how best to avoid these major injuries and fatalities before an incident occurs.
Tip 1: Prevent Falls by Marking and Protecting Sides, Floor Holes, and Wall Openings
According to OSHA, falls account for the most deaths. Back in 2018, almost 33.5% of jobsite deaths that occurred were a result of falls. Falls occur when workers are performing leading edge work, overhand bricklaying that is six feet or higher, or doing low-slope or steep roofing work. In many cases, falls can be avoided by properly marking and protecting sides, floor holes, and wall openings which can cause fatal falls. However, there are other ways to prevent these types of injuries. Most falls are due to:
- Unprotected sides, wall openings, and floor holes
- Improper scaffold construction
- Unguarded protruding steel rebars
- Misusing portable ladders
It’s in the best interest of construction companies to ensure they protect their workers from fall hazards by understanding and complying with fall safety standards. This can be done by implementing safety programs, assessing work surfaces for safety, and providing fall protection equipment, such as personal fall arrest systems, when necessary.
Tip 2: Prevent Electrocution by Making Sure Equipment Is Free from Defects
Electrocution is the second leading cause of death in the construction industry and can be caused by a variety of factors, including:
- Using unsafe equipment
- Improper installation
- Using unsafe practices
- Working in unsafe environments
In order to prevent electrocution, one of the most simple steps you can take is to ensure that all equipment is free from defects. It’s also important that your team follow protocol to reduce the likelihood of electrocution. This means that your grounding must be stable, your connections secure, and your equipment free from defects. Additionally, following lockout/tagout procedures, wearing the right rubber insulating gloves, and posting warning signs in hazardous areas will prevent many unnecessary electrocutions.
The body reacts to electrocution in various ways ranging from minor injury to death. Depending on the shock, a worker may experience tingling sensations, bruising, bone fractures, and muscle contractions. Some of the more severe effects may include ventricular fibrillation or the burning of tissue and organs.
Related: 6 Electrical Hazards on the Jobsite
Tip 3: Provide PPE to Prevent Injuries from Falling Objects
Being struck by a falling object presents a major risk in construction. If not vigilant about their surroundings, construction workers can become victims to objects that are either flying, rolling, falling, or swinging near them.
To avoid being struck by objects, workers must always wear personal protective equipment (PPE). For example, goggles and face shields will protect the eyes from any object, such as debris or nails, that can strike the face. Hard hats will help to protect the head from objects that fall. To avoid swinging objects, workers should always be aware of one another. Drivers must watch blind spots, and workers should stay clear of vehicles with heavy objects that could roll or fall and injure them.
Tip 4: Train Employees on Vigilance and Avoidance for Areas Where They May Become Trapped
A little over 4 percent of construction workers died due to caught-in or between hazards. These are unfortunate circumstances where workers are strangled, limbs are amputated, and bones are broken as a result of being caught, crushed, squeezed, or compressed between a wall, vehicle, or machinery.
To prevent this type of incident, workers should always wear appropriate PPE, avoid loose clothing and jewelry, and be aware of their surroundings at all times. An awareness of your surroundings includes knowing where pull-ins are most likely to happen. Employers should not only instruct workers on how to avoid being caught between objects but should train their workers on how to actively escape a hazard before an injury or death occurs. Furthermore, employers should discuss with employees exactly where and how they may become trapped in an effort to avoid these hazards.
Tip 5: Discuss Safety Protocols With an Attorney
As mentioned before, consulting one of our Naples contractor attorneys can alleviate some of the stress of preparing a jobsite with safety protocols. An attorney will be able to discuss common safety issues, areas that may need extra attention, and what to do after an incident, injury, or fatality has occurred.
If your team has experienced an injury or fatality, contact Cotney Construction Law. Our seasoned attorneys will provide you with sound legal advice at every level and assist your firm with any construction needs. Not only do we advise our clients on legal matters, but we also provide a myriad of other valuable services for construction businesses, including contract review, employment law advice, and litigation and arbitration services. We also advocate for clients involved in licensing complaints, permitting issues, stop-work orders, business immigration, and more.
Disclaimer: The information contained in this article is for general educational information only. This information does not constitute legal advice, is not intended to constitute legal advice, nor should it be relied upon as legal advice for your specific factual pattern or situation.