People suffer injuries or fatalities in a variety of circumstances and locations, and workplace injuries or deaths account for a large portion of the people who are injured in the United States every year as well as a notable number of the annual fatalities that are tallied nationwide each year. Workplace safety is a major priority of public policy in this country, with the landmark Occupational Safety and Health Administration within the U.S. Department of Labor at the vanguard of enforcing compliance with health and safety regulations for more than 130 million workers at more than 8 million worksites across the nation. Unfortunately, however, despite the regulations in place, workplace injuries and deaths still occur, and within private industry the construction business can be one of the most perilous for workers.
According to OSHA, of the 3,929 worker fatalities that were registered in private industry in 2013, 796, or 20.3 percent, were in construction. During the same year, the leading causes of worker fatalities at construction sites were falls (294 or 36.9 percent), struck by object (82 or 10.3 percent), electrocutions (71 or 8.9 percent) and caught-in/between (21 or 2.6 percent). OSHA has referred to these leading causes of death as the “Fatal Four,” and has stressed that eliminating them would save 468 workers’ lives in the United States every year.
There are a variety of hazards or safety standard violations that can set the stage for a workplace fatality or injury, and construction sites can be the venue for many of them. OSHA has detailed the following as the 10 most frequently cited OSHA standards, including a few that apply exclusively to construction, that were violated in fiscal year 2013: fall protection, construction; hazard communication standard, general industry; scaffolding general requirements, construction; respiratory protection, general industry; electrical wiring methods, components and equipment, general industry; powered industrial trucks, general industry; ladders, construction; controls of hazardous energy, general industry; electrical systems design general requirements, general industry; and machinery and machine guarding general requirements, general industry.
With respect to nonfatal injuries and illnesses recorded in private industry, the numbers are significant, including the following most recent statistics from 2012 from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics:
- There were 2,976,400 recordable cases of injury or illness in private industry in 2012.
- There were 340,900 cases involving sprains, strains or tears in 2012.
- There were 177,580 cases involving injuries to the back in 2012.
- There were 219,630 cases involving falls, slips or trips in 2012.
In California, as in most states, workers who are injured due to incidents that happen during the course and scope of their employment are covered for their injuries by workers’ compensation, as are the next-of-kin survivors of workers who are killed while performing their work. As a form of strict liability, workers’ compensation essentially is a no-fault system established by the state in which contributory negligence is not a factor – a legitimate workers’ compensation claim must be covered. While workers’ compensation laws have largely precluded lawsuits between injured employees and their employers, a worker who has been hurt on the job may still be able to file a lawsuit against a third party who may have caused or contributed to the worker’s injury or wrongful death. These third-party actions usually involve companies whose services have created unsafe working conditions or those that manufactured a defective product that was instrumental in the worker’s injury, and construction sites can provide the context for such unsafe working conditions or use of defective products.
Workers, including construction workers, who have suffered and on-the-job injury face an array of issues they have to deal with, not least of which are the medical bills they have to face, their ability to earn a living, and the stress they and their families have to endure. The Brod Law Firm handles cases involving workplace injuries on a contingency fee basis, which means no legal fees are owed if we do not obtain compensation on your behalf. If you or someone close to you has been injured or killed in a construction accident, please call us for a free case evaluation as soon as possible.
Contact us online or call us today at (800) 427-7020 for a FREE case evaluation.