Construction workers in Memphis and throughout Tennessee are exposed to life-threatening hazards on a daily basis. Safety regulations that prevent deaths and serious injuries must be monitored carefully and relentlessly enforced to keep workers protected.
According to OSHA, 4,101 private industry workers were killed in a single recent year. One in five of these fatal accidents took place in the field of construction. Some of the most common causes of construction accidents include:
Falls from heights are the No. 1 cause of fatal injuries on construction sites. In one year, OSHA reported that 302 of the 828 total deaths in construction were caused by falls. Construction workers are often required to work at heights on unstable structures such as scaffolding, ladders and roofs. OSHA commonly cites fall protection violations and fall hazards as the cause of devastating injuries.
OSHA has developed programs that emphasize the recognition and handling of possible fall hazards and continues to increase employers’ and employees’ ability to identify and prevent safety violations that contribute to the potential for serious injuries from falls. In 2013, 17 construction workers were killed by fall accidents in Tennessee alone.
STRUCK BY AN OBJECT
OSHA includes “struck by an object” as one of the “fatal four” – the four leading causes of worker deaths on construction sites. Workers who were struck by an object made up 10 percent of fatalities in the construction industry in 2013, with 84 deaths.
Failing to recognize and handle struck-by hazards can lead to unnecessary and preventable deaths. OSHA defines struck-by injuries as “produced by forcible contact or impact between the injured person and an object or piece of equipment.” When the impact of an object creates an injury, it is considered a struck-by injury. This can include being struck by a flying, falling, swinging or rolling object.
Construction sites are commonly a work in progress. You can often find exposed wires and hazardous unfinished electrical systems on the site. Coming into contact with any electrical hazard may result in electrocution that causes burns, shock, explosions and even death.
The most common type of electrocution accidents in construction include contact with overhead power lines, contact with energized sources such as bare wires, defective tools and improper use of extension cords. When the power supply to equipment is not properly grounded or when exposed wires touch human skin, current can travel throughout the human body and easily lead to death.
CAUGHT-IN OR CAUGHT-BETWEEN
Construction workers are routinely exposed to dangerous circumstances that often result in cave-ins, getting caught in machinery or getting crushed between large objects. Unfortunately, this is so common that it is one of the “fatal four,” and was responsible for 21 deaths in 2013.
OSHA works to make occupational fatalities caused by caught-in or caught-between hazards less common, and helps employers and employees to better recognize the hazards that can contribute to these types of accidents. The most common types of caught-in or caught-between accidents include injuries or deaths from contact with machinery with exposed moving parts, being buried by debris or a large object, and getting pinned between two large objects.
UNSAFE EXCAVATION OPERATIONS:
Trench accidents are often the result of violations of safety regulations. When dealing with trenching and excavation work it is crucial to follow safety guidelines closely, as trenching work presents a serious risk to construction workers.
Trenches must be constructed exactly according to state and federal guidelines and inspected frequently. There is a high risk of trench collapse with serious injury or death as an outcome. More needs to be done to ensure that construction workers are not being placed in harm’s way for the sake of an employers’ profit, a failure to follow safety regulations or due to defective materials and equipment.
Accidents involving motor vehicles are responsible for many fatal and non-fatal injuries in the construction field. Transportation incidents can be any accident involving vehicles due to loss of control, sudden maneuvering or another event that results in bodily contact with a vehicle.
Semi-trucks are commonly used to transport construction equipment and supplies and can often weigh 80,000 pounds or more. Vehicles are often moving in and out of a construction site, creating the potential for workers to be injured.
Overexertion can contribute to serious construction accidents. The condition can lead to dehydration, exhaustion and reduced mental clarity. Simple mistakes can lead to devastating accidents that can quickly end the lives of one or more individuals.
Overexertion is a major cause of construction accidents, and is possibly involved in far more accidents than has been reported. Recognizing and handling overexertion when it occurs is extremely important to avoiding serious accidents. Some of the signs of overexertion include fatigue, dizziness, significant sweating, chest pain, weakness, sore muscles, tightening of muscles, a burning sensation, nausea and excessive thirst. Overexertion is the No. 1 cause of non-fatal injuries according to a study carried out by The Center for Construction Research and Training.
If you have been injured on a construction site, you most likely have a right to workers’ compensation benefits. A construction accident attorney can help you understand how to obtain all the benefits you are due, and potentially pursue additional compensation through third-party claims if possible.
- OSHA: Commonly Used Statistics
- OSHA: Big Four Construction Hazards
- The Center for Construction Research and Training: Leading Causes of Fatal and Nonfatal Injuries in Construction
- OSHA: Worker Safety Series – Construction
- Bureau of Labor Statistics: Fatal occupational injuries in Tennessee