Texans are no stranger to construction, with new buildings and renovations in constant demand. Construction workers generally do not have a problem finding employment. However, stressful deadlines combined with the physically intense nature of the job can place a strain on workers and increase the risks posed by potentially hazardous situations on the job, making construction one of the most notoriously dangerous fields to work in. According to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), construction workers accounted for over 20% of work-related fatalities in 2018. This alarming number reflects a fairly consistent trend throughout the past decade, leading to new regulations that strive to keep workers safe.
Despite more stringent guidelines, hundreds of workers face severe injuries or death due to a wide number of situations at construction sites. Falling or being struck by debris or other objects – especially tools dropped from above – is common on job sites. Defective tools can also break, spark, or come apart, causing injuries. Being in close proximity to heavy machinery causes workers to be caught or crushed by it, especially when clothing becomes snagged. Similarly, workers may be hit by one of the many vehicles found on construction sites, like dump trucks, cranes, cars, forklifts, and trucks. Burns from actions like welding and using caustic chemicals can also occur.
Common Causes of Scaffolding Accidents
Accidents involving scaffolding are some of the most common construction workplace incidents. Workers may fall off or be buried or crushed under a scaffold or embankments that collapses. This often leads to serious head or spinal injuries. OSHA reported that scaffolding violations were the third most cited safety standard in 2018. When scaffolding safety standards aren’t met, this puts people who work on and under these temporary workplace structures at an extreme risk. The most common clauses include:
- The most common cause of scaffolding accidents is planks giving way. OSHA sets specific standards for the quality of lumber to be used in scaffolding and the length the lumber spans. This ensures the lumber will always be capable of supporting the weight of the people working on it.
- Another common cause of scaffolding accidents is inadequate cross bracing. Because some scaffolding can be several stories high, it’s important that the cross braces can withstand the weight of workers and their tools.
- Scaffolding accidents can also occur when scaffolding is not equipped with guardrails or when guardrails fail, causing workers to fall.
- Scaffolding also imposes risks for people who work under and around them. In the event of a scaffolding collapse, any workers under the scaffolding can also sustain serious injuries.
Construction Site Dangers
Heatstroke: The nature of construction work generally being outside presents additional potential for harm. For example, heatstroke is one of the most serious heat-related sicknesses, as it can happen rapidly and unexpectedly. It occurs when the body is unable to regulate its temperature, notably remaining unable to cool down. Heatstroke can cause a number of health problems, including permanent disability or even death if not treated immediately. Unfortunately, especially in Texas, many workplaces present extreme heat exposure with little to no safety measures in place to prevent heat-related illnesses.
Roadway Repair: Construction workers involved in highway repairs are especially at risk for being hit by negligent drivers. Those that work at night are even more at risk of being hit, especially by a drunk driver.
Training: Due to the extremely hazardous nature of construction work, proper training is among the most crucial tools in minimizing the risks to workers. Extensively training all personnel in how to safely handle dangerous tools and machinery, follow appropriate safety techniques, and recognize potential dangers can prevent accidents. In addition, teaching emergency protocols can help workers effectively react in the case of an incident. Evacuation measures, fire safety, and basic first aid skills can easily save a workers life should a dire situation arise.
Safety Equipment: Safety equipment is also key to protecting workers. Even in the safest of work environments, accidents can still occur, and gear that has been properly maintained can greatly reduce damage from mistakes and other issues. Employers should ensure all workers have hard hats to protect the skull and brain from debris and the impact of a fall. Workers also need goggles, glasses, and face shields to protect their eyes from dangerous fumes, sparks, and debris. Workers should also have gloves to prevent the fingers and hands from being injured through cuts, burns, and machinery injuries, and steel-toed boots to protect the toes from damage due to dropped items, debris, and other risks. Besides personal protective equipment, construction sites are also beginning to rely more on technology to help ensure safety, such as using drones to monitor jobsites and deliver supplies.
Open Communication: Creating an environment where employees feel comfortable enough to ask questions, request more training, or voice concerns can make a difference in life and death situations on a job site. If an employee feels supported, it is more likely they will feel confident and capable when it comes to their job, which means less accidents and injuries. Additionally, each worker should understand their actions could put coworkers at risk at any given moment. Being careless on a job site could have serious, life-threatening consequences for anyone nearby. Be sure everyone understands once they step foot on the jobsite, they are responsible for their own safety. The moment they do not feel safe or they witness careless behavior by another worker, they should be encouraged to speak up and report any issues.
Jobsite Inspection: Things can change on construction sites at the drop of a hat. Conducting daily site inspections can help prevent issues or tragedies before they transpire. Make sure the site is clean and ready to be worked on before starting. Look out for any hazards and report any problems. Implement a safety checklist for employees to complete to help ensure their safety. If any essential safety measures are neglected, supervisors and management personnel may be responsible for the harm inflicted. The implementation of safety protocols protects all workers at a site, and it is the responsibility of crew management to provide an environment that is as risk-free as possible.
Houston Construction Accident Lawyers
Seeking compensation after a construction site accident can be an intimidating process, but with the help of an experienced injury attorney, you and your family may be able to recover from the financial burdens of an injury on the job. The Houston construction accident lawyers of Adame Garza LLP have helped hundreds of Texas workers recover from workplace injuries, and we stand ready to aid you through this difficult time.