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The “Fatal Four” Construction Site Hazards

the top level of a construction site

Construction remains one of the most dangerous jobs in the United States, with more than 100,000 construction workers suffering injuries and nearly 1,000 dying on the job every year.

Many construction site accidents have one of four factors in common. These factors are known as the “fatal four” construction site hazards, since they play a role in so many construction site accidents and fatalities. The “fatal four” construction site hazards include the following:

#1. Falls

According to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), falls are the leading cause of construction site accidents resulting in injury or death

This is because many construction sites involve working on multi-level job sites, and any worker who is six feet or more above the ground is at risk of serious injury or death.

Although construction site managers are required to provide workers with personal fall arrest equipment, they do not always do so. Additionally, even if managers do provide workers with such equipment, they may not encourage or require workers to use it.

OSHA provides several guidelines for construction site managers to prevent this common construction site accident, including the following:

  • Provide and encourage use personal of fall arrest equipment.
  • Install and maintain perimeter protection.
  • Cover and secure floor openings and label floor opening covers.
  • Train workers on how to use ladders and scaffolds safely.

#2. Electrocution

Electrocution is another major hazard that contributes to a significant number of construction site accidents. In fact, according to a National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) report, 77% of the 325 contract worker electrocutions that occurred from 2012-2016 involved workers employed in the construction industry.

Electrocution is prevalent in the construction industry because construction workers often handle exposed wiring in the infrastructure of unfinished buildings. Additionally, exposed power lines, whether they be overhead or underground, pose a high voltage risk to anyone nearby.

Construction site managers should take the following measures to prevent electrocution on the job site:

  • Locate and identify utilities before opening the job site to workers.
  • Train workers to look for overhead power lines when operating any equipment and maintain a safe distance away from power lines.
  • Install ground-fault circuit interrupters for protection.

#3. Struck-By

Construction sites are busy environments with plenty of materials being moved from place to place. These materials are handled by heavy machinery including cranes, trucks, and more. This creates a potentially serious hazard for construction workers as they could be struck by a vehicle or another moving object.

In order to prevent such incidents, construction site managers should take the following measures:

  • Train workers to safely maneuver heavy machinery and trucks throughout the site, being aware of workers that are walking or standing on the ground.
  • Provide workers with reflective clothing.
  • Install warning signs in high danger areas, such as near heavy machinery and in high traffic paths.

#4. Caught In/Between

There are several hazards on a construction site that could cause a caught in/between accident. Heavy machinery with moving parts, for example, has the potential to cause crushing or degloving injuries if a worker gets caught in the machine.

Another major hazard for a caught in/between accident is a trench collapse. Construction sites often dig trenches to access pipes and wiring. Such trenches, when not constricted or reinforced properly, can collapse and bury workers under dirt and rubble.

Construction site managers can mitigate this risk by taking the following measures:

  • Make sure that guards and interlocks on heavy machinery are properly working.
  • Train workers to safely operate heavy machinery properly so that they do not get limbs caught in the moving parts.
  • Install adequate protective systems for trenches or excavations five feet or deeper. Some trenches under five feet deep may also need such a system.
  • Make sure the trench or excavation is protected either by sloping, shoring, benching, or trench shield systems.

What Are the Consequences of Construction Site Accidents?

A construction site accident can have devastating consequences. These accidents affect not only the injured worker, but their loved ones as well. It can be difficult for a family to move forward emotionally and financially when their loved one has been catastrophically injured in a preventable accident.

Injuries caused by construction site accidents are often permanent in nature, and may include the following:

  • Traumatic brain injuries
  • Spinal cord injuries or paralysis
  • Severe burn injuries
  • Injuries requiring amputation
  • Blindness or deafness
  • Wrongful death

Since many of these injuries are permanent, the injured worker will likely require long-term medical treatment. They will also likely suffer from a loss of income due to being unable to work.

It’s not right for an injured worker and their family to foot the bill when the accident could have been prevented by someone else. But who exactly would be liable?

Who Is Liable in a Construction Site Accident?

The parties that may be held liable in a construction site accident depend on how the accident occurred. Due to workers’ compensation laws, you will not be able to recover compensation in civil court from your employer.

However, there are certain situations in which a third party caused or contributed to your accident. In this case, you may sue them in civil court to recover damages for your medical bills, lost wages, and more. These suits may involve:

  • Third-party negligence: You may sue a third party—that is, someone not employed by your same organization—whose negligence caused your accident. For example, if a contractor hits you with a vehicle on the job site, you may then file a claim to hold them liable for your extensive losses. The contractor’s employer may also face liability for employee negligence in this situation.
  • Defective equipment: It’s vital that equipment on a construction site operates safely. When this does not happen, the product’s manufacturer may be held liable for an inherent design or manufacturing defect that caused your accident.
  • Road work zone accidents: Although drivers are required to travel slowly through designated work zones, they do not always do so. A driver who speeds or drives negligently through a work zone may be held liable if their recklessness caused your accident.

These situations can be complex, and when the stakes are this high, it’s important for you to have an experienced attorney on your side. Only then will you have the best chance of recovering maximum possible compensation.

Injured in a Construction Site Accident? We’re Here to Help

If you or someone you love has been injured in a construction site accident, our Los Angeles trial attorneys are here to help. We understand the enormous expenses that construction site accidents can cause, and we can help you recover compensation for the following damages:

  • Medical expenses
  • Lost earnings
  • Pain and suffering
  • Permanent injuries
  • Wrongful death

Greene Broillet & Wheeler, LLP has been rated Tier 1 in Personal Injury in U.S. News-Best Lawyers Los Angeles rankings every year since 2011. Our firm has secured more million-dollar judgments for clients than any other law firm in California. In short, we’re who you want on your team in this situation.

Contact Greene Broillet & Wheeler, LLP at (866) 634-4525 to schedule a free consultation.