A report released by The Bureau of Labor Statistics noted that over 9 million Americans worked in the construction industry in 2014. Unfortunately, construction frequently lands on lists of the most dangerous occupations in the U.S. In fact, one in five fatalities that occurred on the job in 2014 took place on a construction site. We’ll discuss which injuries are most common in this line of work and what workers can do if they experience an injury on a job site.
Each day, almost six and a half million construction workers head to over 250,000 sites across the country. Working in construction involves manual labor and the use of a variety of hand and power tools. Although the specific tasks can vary, workers might clear and prepare sites for new builds, build bridges, create trenches, set up support braces or scaffolding, operate heavy equipment, pave roads, demolish existing structures and clean up debris and rubble. The dangerous nature of these tasks makes construction workers particularly vulnerable to a wide range of injuries.
Working with electrical wiring, chemicals, leaky pipes and many different types of machinery can expose construction workers to the risk of fires, which can lead to burns and scarring.
The reason that you often see construction workers wearing hard hats is that injuries to this part of the body are common while on the job. Falling objects, tools and materials can lead to cuts, concussions and traumatic brain injuries, among other conditions. Workers who are involved in digging or building a structure from the ground up are particularly at risk for these types of injuries.
Spinal Cord Injuries
The activities most commonly associated with spinal cord injuries at a construction site involve falling off ladders, scaffolding or other elevated platforms or areas. Sadly, these situations can result in partial or full paralysis, damage to the brain and lasting and debilitating disabilities.
Not surprisingly, lacerations to the skin are a common construction site injury. Some of the more common construction site hazards that can lead to cuts include defective or poorly maintained tools and machinery, equipment that is not properly secured and exposed nails. If not properly treated, these wounds can become infected, requiring further medical attention. Wearing protective clothing and gear can help reduce these types of injuries.
The use of heavy machinery can lead to broken, fractured or even crushed bones. Equipment like bulldozers and cranes can cause serious damage to workers on a construction site if used by someone with improper training. Additionally, this type of equipment can lead to accidents if not properly secured when not in use.
Loss of Limbs
Damage to a construction worker’s extremities can result in the loss of a finger, toe, arm or leg. Heavy equipment and machinery can crush these body parts. In some cases, limbs or digits are so damaged in a construction accident that amputation is required.
Construction sites are loud places. The noise generated from heavy equipment and machinery can lead to construction workers’ hearing damage or loss. Workers can experience damage when operating jackhammers and other loud equipment without ear protection or if struck on the side of the head or on the ear by an object or falling materials.
Repetitive Stress Injuries
The manual labor required in the construction industry involves repetitive motion, whether it’s lifting materials or tools or bending down. Repetitive stress injuries frequently cause back problems, which can prove to be debilitating for construction workers.
Working outside year-round can expose construction workers to heat-related health problems. A throbbing headache, dizziness, nausea and cramping can indicate that a worker is experiencing heat stroke. If an individual does not seek treatment, heat stroke can lead to organ damage and failure and eventually death.
Loss of Vision
Construction workers are exposed to a variety of chemicals, gases and other materials at job sites which can damage eyesight. In the most severe cases, exposure to these materials can lead to partial vision loss or even blindness.
Avoiding Injuries on the Job Site
The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) was established by Congress to set and enforce workplace safety standards and provide training. OSHA recommends that companies include all necessary safety equipment and tools when estimating the cost of a job. Workers should receive proper training in the use of all heavy machinery, equipment and protective gear. All tools should be well-maintained and in proper working condition. Regular safety inspections can spot potential problems before workers are put at risk.
What To Do If You or a Loved One is Involved in a Construction Site Accident
Damages sustained as a result of a construction site injury can be serious and long-lasting. In most cases, a victim can submit a claim under their state’s workers’ compensation program. However, in some cases, they may be eligible to seek additional compensation through a “third party claim.” These cases may involve the wrongful act of someone else, such as when a tool or machine malfunctions or if an individual is involved in a motor accident on the job.
The dedicated professionals at Slack & Davis can help advise victims on all of their options. In some situations, they may be entitled to compensation to help offset the financial loss if they are unable to resume work, if they have a lasting disability or if they suffered a more serious injury, paralysis or even death. The attorneys at Slack and Davis understand how serious injuries can impact a worker and their family’s day-to-day life. We have worked with many victims to help them get them the compensation they deserve to meet their immediate and long-term needs.