Roughly 10.3 million Americans are employed in the construction industry. Most of these workers are exposed to dangerous equipment and machinery every day. If something goes wrong, it can change the worker’s life forever—and, unfortunately, there’s a lot that can go wrong.
Some machines are inherently dangerous and may hurt an unfocused or inadequately-skilled worker. Other times, a particular machine, while usually safe, is defective and causes an injury. Still other times, the machine is safe so long as certain safeguards are put in place, but the employer or employee fails to do so.
Depending on the circumstances of your construction accident injury, you may be able to file a workers’ compensation claim or a personal injury lawsuit to receive compensation for your medical expenses.
The construction industry is widely considered one of the most dangerous industries in the United States. Of the 4,674 worker fatalities in 2017, more than 20% were in the construction industry.
This danger affects laborers of all ages and experience levels. In fact, the number of fatalities among construction workers younger than 35 years old has fallen over the past 2 decades, while the number of construction workers 55 years and older has grown.
Nonfatal injuries have followed a similar trend. Over the last 2 decades, nonfatal injuries among workers aged 25–34 dropped 38%, but injuries tripled among workers 55 years and older.
Female workers account for a relatively small proportion of the construction workforce. Nevertheless, approximately 14 female construction workers are killed every year. Additionally, roughly 3,500 female construction workers are injured on the job every year.
The 4 leading causes of death in the construction industry (sometimes called the “fatal four”) include:
Construction workers will be the first to tell you that not all equipment and machinery are created equal. Let’s take a look at 5 of the most dangerous pieces of equipment and machinery in the construction industry based on injury and fatality statistics.
Falls are the leading cause of death among construction workers, accounting for 39.2% of all deaths in 2017. The rate of nonfatal fall injuries in the construction industry is 50% higher than all other industries combined. Many of these falls occur while construction workers are on ladders.
Occupations within the construction industry where workers are particularly at risk of falling from a ladder include:
The Center for Construction Research and Training published several tips to help workers avoid falling from ladders:
According to the CPWR, almost 100 people are killed every year by mobile, heavy equipment. There are few pieces of equipment heavier than a bulldozer, which can weigh anywhere from 8–104 tons. The main causes of bulldozer injury include:
Bulldozers are also dangerous because of the noise they make. Specifically, bulldozers operate at a decibel level of 93–96. Workers exposed to this noise level will lose some of their hearing over time. Even more worrisome, workers may not hear critical warnings or instructions from co-workers over the sound of the bulldozer.
Power saw injuries are routinely reported to the US Department of Labor.
Let’s look at an example:
How could such an incident have been prevented? Once again, CPWR has some suggestions:
Backhoes generally have a shovel at the front and a bucket at the back, making the machine dangerous from both ends. A worker can be run over by the machine, struck with the shovel, or trapped beneath the backhoe when it rolls over.
Let’s take a look at some general tips to keep you safe while using a backhoe:
Cranes are widely considered one of the most dangerous “heavy” pieces of equipment used within the construction industry. According to the CPWR, approximately 42 construction workers are killed by cranes every year.
The main causes of injury and death involving cranes include the following:
If you’ve been injured by equipment or machinery while working on a construction site, you may want to file an injury claim so that you can be reimbursed for your medical expenses.
But who should you sue?
In most cases, it will be 1 of 2 people:
The specific damages you can recover in a civil lawsuit will depend on the nature of the accident, as well as the laws of the state in which you file your lawsuit. However, in most cases, you will be able to recover economic damages (medical expenses, lost wages, etc.) and non-economic damages (pain and suffering, loss of consortium, etc.).
Workers’ compensation is a type of insurance that provides benefits to employees injured during the course of employment. The vast majority of employers are required to provide workers’ compensation insurance.
So long as your employer has workers’ compensation insurance and you were injured while doing your job, you should be able to file a workers’ compensation claim in lieu of filing a personal injury lawsuit.
A workers’ compensation claim is generally favorable to a personal injury lawsuit because—unlike a personal injury lawsuit—you don’t need to prove that your employer did anything wrong. However, the damages that you can recover may be limited.