Residential and commercial construction sites are among the most dangerous places to work in the United States. In addition to the prevalence of high-powered tools and heavy equipment, there’s typically pressure to complete the project quickly in order to maximize profitability. It should come as no surprise, then, that the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) found that construction workers have a 70% higher risk of sustaining a work-related injury than any other occupation.
Data collected by OSHA demonstrates just how dangerous a construction site can be:
The most common, and most dangerous, types of construction site accidents are referred to as the “fatal four.” They account for nearly two of every three construction site fatalities:
Other construction site injuries run the gamut, including:
The sad reality is that virtually all construction site accidents can be avoided. The most common causes of injury on a construction site are:
OSHA maintains safety standards for the construction industry. The agency also conducts inspections without advance notice, though employers may require an inspection warrant before allowing inspectors on the premises. Based on those inspections, as well as complaints filed with the agency and other investigations, OSHA may cite contractors, owners and others for violation of safety regulations. Such violations can carry substantial fines.
If you’re hurt on a jobsite because of the carelessness or negligence of another person, you have the right to take legal action to recover for your losses. In most instances, employers are required to carry a policy of workers’ compensation insurance (though some states allow employers to be “self-insured”). To recover workers’ comp benefits, you need only show that you were injured and that the injury occurred in the course of your employment. You don’t have to file a lawsuit to recover for losses that are covered by workers’ compensation. You can submit a claim for benefits directly to your employer’s workers’ compensation insurance carrier. Workers’ compensation laws identify specific dollar amounts workers receive based on the type of injury.
It’s important to understand, though, that workers’ compensation applies only to injuries caused by your employer or a coworker. If you suffer injury because of the wrongful acts of an unrelated third party, you’ll need to file a personal injury lawsuit to recover damages. An example of a situation where you might need to file a “third party claim” would be if your injury is caused by a defective tool or machine, in which case you will need to sue the manufacturer. You can file a workers’ compensation claim simultaneously with a third-party lawsuit. You cannot, however, recover for the same losses in both proceedings.
A number of simple measures can be implemented to dramatically reduce the risk of injury on a construction site:
Construction sites are among the most dangerous places to work, with potential risk of injury due to falling objects, falls from heights, dangerous or defective equipment, exposure to electrical current, and carelessness by coworkers. After a construction site injury, a worker can usually seek damages through a workers’ compensation claim. If any injuries were caused by outside vendors or other third parties, the worker may also be able to simultaneously file a personal injury lawsuit to recover damages not covered by workers’ comp.
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