California’s construction industry can be extremely dangerous for workers. Even under the best working conditions, incidents can occur that cost construction workers their lives. In an unsafe workplace fraught with negligence, defective equipment, and lack of safety compliance, the risk to construction worker health and safety is enormous. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) collects data on national construction industry accidents in an attempt to identify and prevent the greatest risks to worker safety.
The Fatal Four
Every year, OSHA uses about 2,100 inspectors to investigate construction industry and other workplace accidents. These inspectors are in charge of over 130 million workers at eight million places of employment around the country. The OSHA budget in 2017 was $552,787,000. This paid for tens of thousands of workplace inspections in 2017. What OSHA found was that the construction industry is the deadliest in the country, accounting for 20.7% of all worker fatalities. OSHA calls the four leading causes of construction worker death the Fatal Four.
Falls accounted for more than five times the number of construction worker deaths than the second-greatest cause of death. Falls are a significant problem in the construction industry due to roof work, structural collapses, unsafe scaffolds, ladder accidents, and falls on flat surfaces. Lack of proper fall protection is OSHA’s most frequently cited safety violation.
Struck-By Object (8.2%)
Objects falling or flying and striking workers can cause fatalities due to deadly head and brain injuries. Dangerous debris, shrapnel, bricks, building materials, tools, metal, and falling objects such as collapsing cranes can cause serious and deadly worker injuries. Safe working practices and protective equipment such as helmets can help prevent these deaths.
Working with and around electricity can lead to severe and deadly electrocutions for construction workers. Employers must provide proper training and electrical safety gear, such as rubber gloves and grounding equipment, before workers start with electric components. Workers should also know how to carefully operate machinery so as not to hit overhead power lines.
Fifty construction workers died after getting caught in, crushed, or compressed by objects or equipment on the job in 2017. Collapsing structures, heavy machinery, or objects could strike, catch, or crush construction workers. Adequate safety protocols and devices, such as guardrails and shields, can help prevent these fatal accidents.
The Dangers of the Construction Industry
A total of 971 construction workers died on the job in 2017. The Fatal Four was responsible for 59.9% of construction worker deaths in 2017. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, an average of 582 construction workers would not die each year if workplaces eliminated the Fatal Four. In and out of the construction industry, workplace accidents took 5,147 worker lives in 2017. Negligence causes most worker injuries and deaths in the U.S.
It is up to employers and managers in California’s construction industry to inspect their worksites and implement safety practices to reasonably prevent deadly accidents. Failure to do so could be negligence, and could place liability for damages with the at-fault party. If you suffered a serious injury or lost a loved one in a construction site accident in California, speak to an attorney about your rights. An employer, product manufacturer, or another party could owe you compensation for your losses.