A construction site presents a minefield of hazards for workers, inspectors and visitors to navigate during the course of a typical workday. Falls, unprotected machinery, construction vehicles moving about, exposed electric cables and environmental hazards, including asbestos and silica dust, make construction work one of the most dangerous occupations.
For a better understanding of the extent of the dangerous conditions within the industry, here are some of the most common construction injuries, their causes and how liability is determined when a construction accident occurs. Also included are suggested measures to take in the event you suffer an injury at a construction site.
Common causes of construction injuries
When you walk onto a construction site, you enter a world of moving vehicles, forklifts and machinery. Scaffolding, ladders, power tools and electrical wiring only add to the dangers workers face on a daily basis. Some of the leading causes of accidents and injuries at construction sites according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention include the following:
- Falls: The CDC identifies falls as the leading cause of fatalities and injuries at construction sites. Ladders, scaffolding, and faulty or missing railings are some of the common causes of accidents due to falls. In addition to falls from heights, injuries can occur when someone trips over cables, tools or equipment left on the floor or ground or slips and falls on grease, oil or other substances left to accumulate on floor surfaces.
- Crushed or pinned: Injuries occur when a person becomes crushed or pinned by a collapsing trench or structure or by materials falling from forklifts or trucks. A worker may suffer serious or fatal injuries when struck and pinned against a wall or equipment by a construction vehicle.
- Struck by objects: Tools, equipment, debris or other objects dropped from structures or cranes can cause serious injuries to a person struck by them.
- Electrocution and electrical shock: Tools and machines operating on electrical power can malfunction and cause the operator or someone working nearby to suffer burns or electrical shock. Cables and wiring severed by construction equipment can cause death or injury to operators.
Dust and metal fragments created by construction equipment and tools can get into the eyes or be inhaled by workers. Depending on the type of construction being done, the use of hazardous chemicals and substances may cause respiratory or eye issues for workers who fail to wear proper breathing and eye protection.
Determining liability when accidents occur at construction sites
When someone suffers an injury in an accident at a construction site, identifying the party responsible for causing it can present a challenge. Construction sites generally bring together a complex mix of property owners, contractors and subcontractors along with the workers they employ. Add to the list of parties who may be liable for causing an accident the manufacturers and suppliers of the equipment, machinery and tools used at a construction site and the challenge to identify the party or parties responsible for an accident gets even more difficult.
An immediate investigation that includes interviews of the injured party and witnesses can reveal evidence of the cause of an accident, which can help to identify the at-fault party or parties. Depending upon how it occurred, an accident may be the fault of multiple parties, including the following:
- Property owner: A harmful or hazardous condition at a construction site may have been caused or allowed to remain by the owner of the land or building owner.
- General contractor: The general contractor has a responsibility to oversee the jobsite and ensure that proper safety protocols are in place and being followed by everyone working at the site.
- Subcontractors: Subcontractors may be held liable for the work they perform and for the activities and conduct of their employees, so they could be liable for accidents caused by their work or workers.
- Engineers and architects: A failure in the design of a project that causes workers and other people at a construction site to be injured could make engineers and architects liable.
Any number of parties may be liable when accidents and injuries occur during a construction project including drivers and owners of delivery vehicles operating at the site. Other potential parties may include the manufacturers and suppliers of equipment used at the site that proves to be defective and causes injuries.
What to do when accidents occur?
If you suffer injuries as a result of an accident occurring at a construction site, get medical treatment right away. Once you know the extent of your injuries, a consultation with a personal injury attorney will provide you with legal advice and options for pursuing a claim for damages against the party responsible for causing the accident.
Steve Howards has been writing legal-centric articles for several years now. He started working with the personal injury attorney law firm Herrig & Vogt in 2019 as the Content Marketing Manager, which has allowed him to expand on his writing in personal injury, family law, and much more. Steve strives to offer the public advice on various laws covering a variety of practices.