A Texas construction worker has died as a result of injuries sustained on the job. The construction worker was attempting to repair a belt when he fell into a concrete pulverizer. The tragic incident reflects the widespread dangers across the construction industry, most notably falls and unprotected heavy equipment. According to the National Safety Council (NSC), falls are among the top three leading causes of serious injuries or death in the construction sector. The NSC reported the construction industry saw 24,700 injuries and 384 deaths from falling at the workplace in just one year.
Falls and the Fatal Four
It’s a common misconception that in order for a fall to inflict serious injury or death it must be from a substantial height. Falls are dangerous regardless of height, and can severely affect a person for the rest of their life, including impacting their career. Falls are among the construction industry’s “Fatal Four,” which refers to the four most common construction site accidents across the country. Falls caused more than 33% of the total 1,008 worker fatalities in 2018, signaling a much-needed response from construction companies on improved safety measures for workers.
The Occupational Health and Safety Administration (OSHA) reports the following data regarding the fatal four for 2018, the most recent data year available:
- Falls contributed to 338 worker deaths
- Workers being struck by objects contributed to 112 worker deaths
- Electrocutions contributed to 86 worker deaths
- Workers becoming caught in or between various surfaces contributed to 55 worker deaths
In order to perform the various tasks of a construction project, workers may need to be elevated. This may only be a few feet; however, a fall at any height can be dangerous and even fatal. It’s important that construction companies outfit all workers with adequate safety equipment, such as proper guardrails to protect workers from falling off of a platform and from falling into heavy machinery.
Companies can help ensure the safety of their employees and prevent falls by abiding by OSHA standards for workplace safety. Regarding falls specifically, OSHA recommends:
- Guard every floor hole into which a worker can accidentally fall
- Provide a guardrail and toe-board around every elevated open-sided platform, floor, or runway
- Regardless of height, if a worker can fall into or onto dangerous machines or equipment, employers must provide guardrails and toe-boards to prevent them from falling and getting injured
- Provide the other means of fall protection that may be required on certain jobsites, including safety harnesses and lines, safety nets, stair railings, and handrails
Falls are preventable when employers properly facilitate a safe working environment. Employees have the right to raise concerns regarding unsafe work practices without the fear of retaliation by employers. OSHA requires the following across all jobsites:
- Provide working conditions free of known dangers
- Keep floors in work areas clean and dry
- Select and provide required personal protective equipment at no cost to workers
- Train workers about job hazards in a language they understand
Workplace Accident Attorneys
Those who work in construction and other physically demanding industries deserve a safe workplace properly outfitted with safety gear to ensure their wellbeing on the job. Employers who ignore proper safety protections put employees in danger. If you or a loved one was seriously injured or killed in a workplace accident, you may be entitled to compensation. There is limited time to act after your accident, so contact us today for a free consultation.