According to the Occupational Safety and Hazard Administration (OSHA), just under 5200 workers were killed on the job in the U.S. in 2016, the most recent year on record. This translates to more than 99 deaths per week, or roughly 14 deaths per day. Tens of thousands of workers were also injured on the job, and many of these injuries were severe and catastrophic.
More than one out of five (21.1%) of work-related deaths in 2016 were in the construction industry. At a typical construction site, there are several workers alongside each other, and many are working in higher elevations and with heavy equipment. These conditions create numerous hazards, especially if the construction company is not in compliance with government rules and regulations and does not adhere to proper safety standards.
The hazardous work conditions and general failure to ensure a safe work environment result in thousands of construction accidents each year. OSHA refers to the four most common types of fatal construction accidents as “Construction’s Fatal Four”, and they go on to say that eliminating these four accidents would save hundreds of lives on construction sites each year:
- Slips and Falls
Falls are the leading cause of death on construction sites, accounting for almost 40% of all construction worker fatalities. Working in higher elevations makes construction workers inherently susceptible to this kind of accident. The problem is made worse when steps are not taken to provide a secure platform to work from. Some common height hazards include poorly maintained or poorly designed equipment (such as scaffolds and ladders), obstructed vision, poorly lit areas, uneven walking surfaces, and cluttered work spaces.
- Being Struck by Objects
Just under 10% of construction worker fatalities are the result of being struck by flying, falling, or loose objects. Debris and other loose objects are common on construction sites, which is why workers are required to wear hard hats. Workers are also at risk of being struck by heavy overhead equipment, such as cranes and scaffolds.
Electrical accidents do not occur as often as many other types of construction accidents, but they still rank number three on OSHA’s “Fatal Four”, accounting for roughly 8% of all construction accident fatalities. Construction sites, by their very nature, have a lot of loose wiring and unfinished electrical systems that are being completed along with the building structure. If workers do not take proper precautions, they may come in contact with a loose wire, power line, or electrical system. This can cause an electrical shock, also known as electrocution.
- Being Caught In-Between
About 7% of construction-related fatalities happen because a worker is caught in-between or compressed by equipment, objects, or a collapsing structure. With so many workers performing various tasks at a fast pace, this type of accident can happen if workers are not careful and aware of their surroundings.
Legal Options for Injured Construction Workers
Aside from the “Fatal Four”, there are several other types of accidents that are common on construction sites that can result in serious injuries and fatalities. When a construction worker is injured, there is a good chance they are eligible for workers’ compensation benefits. In Alabama, most employers are required to carry workers’ comp insurance. Workers’ comp pays two-thirds of gross weekly wages, medical bills, rehabilitation costs, and death benefits for certain family members who were dependent (or at least partially dependent) on a deceased worker’s income. Unfortunately, the claims process can be complex and confusing, and workers compensation insurance companies often try to frustrate workers by delaying or denying claims for no valid reason.
When someone is injured or killed on a construction site, there may be another legal avenue to pursue, depending on the specific circumstances that led to the accident. For example, if the accident was caused by a third-party other than your employer, you may be able to file a personal injury lawsuit against the responsible party. This may be a third-party subcontractor, or the designer, manufacturer, supplier, or distributor of defective machinery or equipment.
Speak to a Skilled Alabama Personal Injury Lawyer
If you or a loved one was injured or killed in a construction accident in Alabama, it is important that you understand all of your rights and options, so you know which legal avenue to pursue.
At M. Adam Jones and Associates, we have extensive experience with both workers’ compensation and personal injury claims. We have in-depth knowledge of these areas of the law and how the two areas may converge when someone is injured in a workplace accident. We have a successful track record with these types of cases, and we work tirelessly to ensure that our clients receive full compensation and that the responsible party is held fully accountable.
To schedule a free consultation with one of our experienced attorneys, call our office today at 334-699-5599. You may also send a secure and confidential message through our web contact form.