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How Often Do Fatal Construction Accidents Occur?

Monday June 26, 2023

Construction work is inherently dangerous and can sometimes result in tragic consequences. Despite safety regulations, you might wonder how frequently fatal construction accidents occur. This article will discuss the risk and occurrence of fatal incidents and other common concerns related to this topic. Plus, you'll learn what you can legally do if you or someone else in your family experiences a construction accident.

The Risk of Fatal Construction Accidents

The very nature of construction work contributes significantly to the risk of fatal accidents. Heavy machinery, power tools, working at considerable heights, and handling hazardous materials are all normal parts of construction operations that have the potential to cause fatalities or inflict serious injuries. Furthermore, time constraints and stressful deadlines can result in carelessness or shortcuts that elevate the risk of accidents.

Another significant risk factor is inadequate training and awareness of safety procedures. When you are not adequately trained or are unfamiliar with safety protocols, you are more susceptible to accidents. Failure to comply with safety regulations, lack of proper supervision, or insufficient safety equipment can significantly increase the risk of fatal accidents.

Employers and construction site managers must prioritize comprehensive safety training, provide appropriate protective gear, and enforce strict adherence to safety guidelines to minimize the risk of fatal construction accidents.

Common Causes of Fatal Construction Accidents

Understanding the common causes of fatal construction site accidents is essential for implementing effective safety measures to prevent them. Several factors contribute to these accidents within the construction industry.

One primary cause is falls from heights. Working at elevated positions with inadequate safety measures or without proper fall protection equipment can lead to severe injuries or fatalities. Tragic accidents can occur when safety harnesses, guardrails, or scaffolding are not utilized.

Strikes by objects are another frequent cause of construction accidents. Construction sites involve heavy machinery, tools, and materials that can pose a risk if not handled or secured properly. Objects falling from heights, such as tools or construction materials, can also cause construction injuries or fatalities.

Other issues include electrocutions from contact with live wires or faulty electrical equipment, accidents related to excavations and trenching, and structural collapses due to inadequate support or flawed construction practices. Improper use of machinery and equipment, lack of proper training, and failure to follow safety protocols all contribute to these accidents.

Frequency and Trends of Fatal Accidents in the US

According to recent statistics, falls are the leading cause of workplace deaths in construction. In 2019, falls to a lower level accounted for 36.4% of all construction fatalities, or 401 of the 991 total recorded fatalities. These figures emphasize the need for robust fall protection measures and training to prevent workplace deaths.

While falls remain the primary cause of fatalities, some positive trends have emerged in other categories. The number and proportion of fatalities from struck-by incidents decreased from the previous year, accounting for only 15.4% of construction fatalities in 2019. Similarly, fatalities due to electrocutions also decreased, accounting for 7.2% of total fatalities. These declines may indicate the effectiveness of safety regulations and increased awareness of the hazards associated with these incidents.

However, caught-in/between incidents — in which workers are caught, crushed, or trapped between objects — remained relatively constant at 5.4%. This further emphasizes the importance of implementing adequate safeguards and training to prevent these types of accidents. 

Additionally, the rising number of fatal injuries among Hispanic construction workers is a concerning trend. The 90% increase from 2011 to 2019 calls for targeted efforts to address the specific safety needs of this demographic and ensure equitable protection for all construction industry workers.

Preventative Measures To Reduce Construction Fatalities

Construction companies and employees can take numerous steps to reduce the probability of construction fatalities. 

Safety Conditions and Training

Employers should prioritize implementing safety procedures and ensuring that employees possess the necessary skills and information to perform tasks safely. This process entails regularly inspecting the workspace to identify and promptly address any hazards. 

Employers should also establish adequate training programs to educate employees on safety practices, proper equipment usage, and hazard identification. Construction organizations can considerably lower the risk of accidents and fatalities by fostering a safety-first attitude and equipping personnel with these required skills.

The Role of OSHA in Industrial Construction Safety

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) plays a vital role in promoting safety within the industrial construction industry. OSHA sets and enforces safety standards to protect workers from hazardous conditions. 

Employers must comply with OSHA regulations, which include providing a safe and healthy work environment, conducting regular inspections, and offering appropriate safety training. OSHA conducts inspections to ensure compliance and has the authority to issue citations or penalties for violations. By adhering to OSHA standards, employers demonstrate their commitment to maintaining a safe workplace and protecting workers.

Employers should actively engage with OSHA standards and resources to stay updated on safe building practices. OSHA provides a wealth of resources, including instructional materials, training courses, and assistance with creating safety regulations tailored to the construction sector. Employers can leverage these resources to improve safety initiatives, identify risks, and implement effective preventative measures.

Legal Recourse Following Fatal Construction Accidents

Several avenues exist to seek compensation with the help of a construction accident attorney, and available legal remedies may vary depending on the specific circumstances of the accident.

One legal option is filing a wrongful death lawsuit. In such cases, the deceased employee's family may seek monetary compensation for their loss. Proving fault, typically against the client, a subcontractor, or a manufacturer of substandard equipment, is a common requirement in wrongful death actions. Funeral expenses, medical expenses, lost future pay, and emotional anguish are frequent compensation requests in wrongful death cases.

You might also be eligible to file a workers' compensation claim. Workers' compensation is a type of insurance that provides benefits if you experience an injury or fatal accident on the job. It covers medical expenses, lost wages, and disability benefits. Workers' compensation claims do not require proof of fault, as they are based on the principle of no-fault liability. However, the benefits might not fully compensate for the loss, especially in fatal accidents.

If you wish to pursue either of these routes, hire a reliable law firm like Kennedy, Johnson, Schwab & Roberge. Our expert construction accident law attorneys can guide you through the legal process and advocate for your rights. We have extensive experience in handling construction site accident cases and are committed to securing the compensation you deserve. Contact us today to schedule a free consultation.

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At Kennedy, Johnson, Schwab & Roberge, L.L.C., we handle all cases on a contingency fee basis. This means that we do not get paid unless and until you receive a settlement or a jury award.

Schedule a free, confidential consultation with a skilled Connecticut personal injury lawyer today.

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