The true risk on construction job sites

Construction workers and their families should be educated about the true risks on construction job worksites.

New Yorkers who work in the construction industry as well as those with family members that work in the construction industry should be aware of the dangers that exist on these job sites. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration has clear laws and regulations governing safety in the workplace. This includes some rules specific for construction sites. Those rules, however, do not prevent all construction worker accidents.

The New York Times recently provided information about two fatalities on area construction sites. In one incident, a 19-year-old worker who was new to the country and his job died after being crushed by blocks from a collapsed retaining wall. Previous safety issues at the job site had been noted, including instability in a wall.

In another incident, a 30-foot fall in an elevator shaft claimed the life of a construction worker. Information indicates that safety code violations may have been a factor in this fatal construction worker accident. In addition, the employer has received prior citations for violations in the past.

Fatalities not unusual

The chance of fatal accidents occurring on construction job sites is so common that the industry as a whole refers to the fatal four. These are the four most common causes of death to construction workers. They are being electrocuted, being hit or struck by an object, being trapped or crushed and falls, slips or trips.

OSHA data suggests that almost 57 percent of fatalities in the construction industry in 2013 were due to one of these four factors. More detailed information shows the following:

  • 794 construction workers died that year.
  • Falls, trips or slips were noted in 294 of those deaths.
  • Workers who were struck or hit by objects accounted for another 82 of those deaths.
  • Electrocutions claimed the lives of 71 construction workers.
  • Entrapment was a factor in 21 of the deaths.

In looking at New York specifically, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics records indicate that 202 people died in workplace accidents New York State in 2012. Of those who died, 38 were construction workers. The deaths included 22 related to falls or trips and five impacted by object strikes or hits. The remaining 11 fatalities involved transportation or exposure to caustic or harmful substances.

What can be done?

Following safety protocol is always important but clearly that is not enough to prevent all construction worker accidents. When an accident happens, victims or their family members should talk to an attorney as soon as possible.