If you are in the construction business, whether it road construction, high rise construction or residential construction, you’ve probably sensed for most or all of your career that it’s one of the most dangerous occupations in America. The statistics will back up that perception.
According to the Department of Labor’s Bureau of Labor Statistics, there were 4,821 workers killed on the job in 2014. More than one in every five worksite fatalities was in the construction business and 17% involved contractors. Another sobering statistic—over 1,000 of those who died were self-employed, typical for many subcontractors in the construction business. Experts say that construction workers who go solo or work in a small shop typically don’t have the knowledge of best practices to ensure safety, or may simply not have the time or money to invest in learning about appropriate safety practices.
Officials at OSHA (the Occupational Safety and Health Administration) say that they routinely cite construction companies for a variety of safety violations, from failing to install guard rails on upper levels at high rise construction sites to improperly assembling, maintaining or installing ladders and scaffolding. They say that the problems aren’t limited to the solo and small subcontractor operations. They frequently find even large contractors cutting corners to meet deadlines or stay within budget. They also say that, just because an employer has purchased safety equipment (such as a harness or guardrail), doesn’t mean the employer knows how to install or use the equipment.
Studies show that falls from harnesses are the most common type of accident on a construction site, typically because the worker did not know how to properly secure the harness. Other significant causes of injury are trench cave-ins (estimates are that 35 people die every year in cave-in accidents) and cuts, lacerations and even amputations from failing to wear appropriate work gloves.
If you have been injured on a construction site, we can help. For a free initial consultation, contact us by e-mail or call our offices, in New Brunswick at 732-247-3600 or in Somerville at 908-448-2560.