Why are construction workers so at risk?

Causes of death in the construction industry are of concern because this industry has some of the highest death rates.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, in 2021, the U.S. had 5,190 fatal work injuries. Of those fatalities, close to 20% took place in the construction industry. The only industry with more fatalities was transportation and materials handling.

What does OSHA (Occupational Health and Safety Administration) call the Fatal Four?

OSHA calls falls, struck by objects, electrocution and caught in/between the “Fatal Four.”

How do falls occur?

Because construction workers often work at elevated heights, they are at risk for falls. Under OSHA’s rules, many preventative measures are in place to prevent falls and reduce their risk. When doing work at 6 feet or more above the ground, the worker must wear fall protection. The company is required to provide the protective gear. Protective gear includes fall arrest equipment, such as a safety and harness line. Other safety precautions include:

  • Installing and maintaining perimeter protection
  • Safe use of ladders and scaffolds
  • Covering and securing floor opening, and labeling floor opening covers

When companies do not meet OSHA’s protective standards and a worker suffers injury or dies, there may be a cause for legal action against the company.

What are the hazards of being struck by objects?

Objects can fall and strike workers due to:

  • Loose or shifting materials
  • Rigging failure
  • Equipment malfunction
  • Dropped tools
  • Vehicle strikes

To protect themselves, workers should never position themselves between a fixed and moving object. Workers should wear high-visibility clothes when near equipment or vehicles. Wearing helmets, safety goggles and securing tools are other safety precautions to take.

How do electrocution accidents occur?

Some of the main causes of electrocution accidents are:

  • Exposed wiring
  • Wet conditions near outlets
  • Contact with overhead power lines
  • Energized conductors or circuit paths
  • Poorly maintained power tools and cords

Companies should train workers in safety precautions and provide them with personal protective equipment.

What are “caught in/between” accidents?

These types of accidents occur when workers get caught in or between:

  • Machines
  • Devices
  • Tools
  • Trenches, which includes between rotating or moving equipment or collapsing materials or structures

As a safety precaution, workers should never enter an unprotected trench or excavation area that is 5 feet or deeper. There must be an adequate protective system in place. This is also true for some trenches under 5 feet. Protective systems include sloping, shoring, benching or trench shield systems.

(Reference: Texas Department of Insurance).

Has your loved one become a victim of one of the causes of death in the construction industry?

Michael R. De La Paz has extensive experience representing clients in many different types of injury accidents. Our firm can represent clients in cases throughout Texas, including areas such as South Padre Island, Galveston or San Antonio and across the nation. Arrange a free consultation to evaluate your case.