What Is the Most Common Accident in Construction?
According to data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, nearly 3 percent of construction workers get injured on the job every year. This is among the highest rates in the country. Construction workers suffer injuries in many different types of accidents, with some accidents being much more common than others.
The U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) reports that falls are the leading cause of death on construction sites. OSHA correctly points out that fall-related deaths on construction sites are entirely preventable and that employers have an obligation to ensure their workers’ safety.
As OSHA explains:
“Workers who are six feet or more above lower levels are at risk for serious injury or death if they should fall. To protect these workers, employers must provide fall protection and the right equipment for the job, including the right kinds of ladders, scaffolds, and safety gear.”
In addition, the National Safety Council reports that falls are the leading cause of non-fatal injuries on construction sites. In fact, falls are the leading cause of injury among construction workers by far.
In 2019, more than 46,000 construction workers suffered injuries in falls. The next most common type of accident on construction sites – contact with objects and equipment – accounted for 26,000 construction worker injuries over the same period of time.
Why Are Falls on Construction Sites So Common?
There are a couple of reasons why falls on construction sites are so common. The first is the simple fact that many construction workers face fall risks on a daily basis. This includes not only the risk of falling off of roofs, ladders, and scaffolding, but also the risk of falling as a result of slips and trips at ground level. Wet concrete, mud, gravel, spills, debris, and tools and building materials on the ground all present fall hazards for construction workers in all trades and occupations.
The second reason why falls on construction sites are so common is the fact that many construction companies fail to take adequate steps to protect their workers. Supplying dangerous ladders and scaffolding, failing to supply harnesses and other safety equipment, and failing to adequately supervise construction sites are all common factors in serious and fatal construction site falls.
What Can (and Should) Construction Companies Do to Prevent Falls?
Given that falls on construction sites are preventable, what can (and should) construction companies do to prevent them? Some examples of simple steps employers could take to drastically reduce the number of serious and fatal falls on construction sites include:
- Provide adequate safety equipment to employees who work at heights
- Properly inspect and maintain all ladders and scaffolding
- Ensure that ladders and scaffolding are properly secured prior to use
- Provide training on the proper use of safety equipment, ladders, and scaffolding
- Instruct workers to keep walkways and work areas clear of trip hazards
- Instruct workers to promptly clean up or rope off spills and other slip hazards
- Replace dangerous ladders, scaffolding, and worn out safety equipment
- Ensure that workers do not feel rushed to do their jobs (which can increase the risk of mistakes and missteps resulting in falls)
What Are Workers’ and Families’ Legal Rights After Construction Site Falls?
Given that falls are preventable, what are workers’ and families’ legal rights when falls happen on construction sites? There are two primary options when it comes to seeking financial compensation for serious and fatal construction site falls:
1. Filing a Workers’ Compensation Claim
Many construction workers in Florida are eligible to receive workers’ compensation benefits when they get injured on the job. Workers’ compensation pays death benefits to eligible family members as well.
In Florida, workers compensation is a “no fault” system. As a result, construction workers and families can file claims regardless of whether they can prove that negligence was a factor in the fall.
2. Filing a Claim for Personal Injury or Wrongful Death
In some cases, construction workers and families can file claims outside of workers compensation. While filing a personal injury or wrongful death claim requires proof of negligence (i.e., that a company failed to take adequate safety precautions), it also allows workers and their families to recover full financial compensation for their losses. This is in contrast with workers’ compensation, which only covers medical bills, a portion of the worker’s lost income, and certain other out-of-pocket expenses.
Talk to a Florida Construction Accident Lawyer Today
Colling Gilbert Wright has extensive experience representing construction workers and their families in workplace accident claims. We fully investigate the accident to determine if you have a case against one or more negligent third parties, discuss all of your legal options, and build a strong claim on your behalf.
If you were injured or lost a loved one in a fall on a construction site, please contact Colling Gilbert Wright at (407) 712-7300 today for a free consultation. Our construction accident lawyers serve clients in Orlando, Tampa, Miami, and throughout Florida.