There’s no going around it: if you work in construction, you’re at a high risk of injury while on the job. It’s a physically demanding industry that requires workers to use heavy machinery, handle dangerous materials, climb to formidable heights, and work on job sites where accidents are likely.
While there will always be improvements and renewed focus on protecting workers’ safety, the nature of the construction field means you’ll always be exposed to some level of risk.
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, in 2021, nearly one in five workplace deaths occurred in the construction industry. And in 2020, 1,008 workers died in construction accidents, which is the third highest fatality rate of any industry. In Louisiana, 31 workers died from construction accidents in 2021.
To help protect yourself and others, here’s a list of the most common construction accidents and how you can avoid them.
Most Common Construction Accidents To Watch Out For
The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) identified four leading types of hazards that inflict the highest percentage of death or injury to construction workers. These include falls, being struck by an object, electrocution, and being caught in between two or more objects. Here’s how to avoid the most common construction accidents:
Falls, Tripping or Slipping
In 2021, just over one-third of all construction deaths were due to falls, slips, and trips. Out of all fatal falls, slips and trips that year, over 46 percent came from the construction industry. Because construction workers have to work around tripping hazards and from high places, like scaffolds, ladders, and rooftops, there’s always a chance of falling and suffering a serious injury.
What you can do to avoid injury: Always regularly inspect your equipment for defects and promptly report damages. You should also be trained in the proper use to avoid going over weight capacity. Finally, workers should always use safety gear like harnesses while working from high places.
A minor mishap or careless movement around exposed wires or power lines could lead to electric shock and severe injury. In the case of electrocution, this can be fatal.
What you can do to avoid injury: Proper training in handling electrical equipment is a must. Everyone on the job site needs to be aware of the locations of power lines and electrical circuits. All tools and equipment should be properly maintained and inspected by trained personnel.
Construction jobs always carry the risk of a worker being struck by falling, flying, swinging or rolling objects, such as tools, equipment, beams, bricks, boards, ladders, or debris.
What you can do to avoid injury: Wear the proper high-visibility clothing to help you stand out in busy areas. In addition, stow away tools and materials when not in use and maintain the proper safety training so that you can stay alert about potential hazards in active work zones.
With so many heavy materials and machines on a job site, construction workers are often in danger of getting stuck between two objects. This might happen when an earthmover pins someone against a wall or when a structure collapses, trapping workers in place.
What you can do to avoid injury: Construction sites should always strictly enforce safety standards, especially around machinery. Workers should be adequately trained on operating heavy machinery, abiding by safety protocols and using spotters when necessary.
Fires and Explosions
There are numerous factors that could contribute to a fire or explosion, through gas leaks, flammable materials, etc. Workers could also be exposed to injury through contact, inhalation, or accidental ingestion of hazardous materials.
What you can do to avoid injury: Proper handling and storage of these materials is crucial, as well as having suitable protective equipment (gloves, masks, or respirators). Workers should also have adequate training on not only handling hazardous materials but also in recognizing the appropriate symbols.
Performing physical labor for long hours often leads to soft tissue injuries such as strains, sprains, and muscle tears. Overexertion can also create fatigue, which will numb your reflexes and impair your judgment. Worse still, the risks of overexertion only grow when working in high heat. Dehydration, fainting, and heatstroke are all very real threats on many construction sites.
What you can do to avoid injury: Know the signs of heat exhaustion so you can identify symptoms early and seek timely help. Employers should provide shaded rest areas, adequate water supply and frequent breaks when working in hot conditions.
Construction workers often have to dig trenches when erecting or expanding buildings. If a trench collapses while workers are still inside, they could be hit by falling debris or trapped underground. In other cases, a trench cave-in could make above-ground structures lose their stability and fall, putting other workers in danger.
What you can do to avoid injury: The prevention of trench cave-ins starts with having the proper shoring (supports that keep the soil from moving) and frequent inspections of excavation sites. Workers should be trained to recognize the signs of an unstable trench, such as water accumulation or cracking soil.
Have You Sustained a Construction Worksite Injury?
Are you a worker who sustained a construction injury on a worksite? Louisiana laws provide a number of protections for you. If you wish to discuss the specifics of your case in a free consultation with an experienced personal injury lawyer, please contact us today.