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Construction workers on the radio, one on the ground the other up high in a crane basket.

8 Most Common Types of Construction-Related Accidents

Table of Contents

Introduction

Falls

Equipment Collisions

Electric Shock

Exposure to Chemicals

Falling Objects

Ladder Accidents

Burn Injuries

Repetitive Motion Injuries

Conclusion

FAQs

Introduction

If you’ve worked in the construction industry, you know that contractors become victims of accidents every year. Thousands of them are injured or killed in on-site accidents. In the United States alone, construction-related accidents account for a significant number of workplace injuries and fatalities annually. According to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), there were approximately 195,600 construction-related accidents reported in the United States in 2020.

In California, a state with a bustling construction industry, the number of construction-related accidents is particularly significant. In 2020, California recorded 24,674 construction-related accidents, highlighting the importance of understanding and addressing the causes of these accidents to ensure a safer work environment.

To prevent such incidents, it is crucial to understand what causes the most common construction accidents, so you can take the proper precautions on the job site. To help you out with this, we thought it would be useful to put together a brief article on this subject. If this is something that you’re interested in learning more about, here are the eight most common types of construction-related accidents.

Falls

Several construction workers on a scaffold
Photo by Darya Sannikova

A trip or slip at a construction site can lead to devastating injuries and even death. A fall at a construction site typically results in injury to the brain, spinal cord, limbs, and internal organs. They can happen in residential buildings and offices, too, so it’s important to protect employees from falls using safety equipment like guardrails.

If you’ve been hurt in an accident caused by negligence or the failure to implement key safety measures, your lawyer can help you get compensation to pay your hospital bills and compensation for lost wages, pain,  suffering, and other damages suffered. Keep in mind that these falls mostly occur to construction workers, however you as a pedestrian can find yourself in a slip and fall accident due to a construction site not taking the appropriate safety measures to ensure no one is at risk. That means you would also apply to file a claim for personal injury against the construction company and their insurance coverage.

Equipment Collisions

Picture of two big construction cranes.
Image by Tom from Pixabay

Construction site machinery is often used to transport large and heavy loads of supplies through crowded areas. Workers cannot afford to be caught off guard while moving these machines and should always be aware of nearby workers and other machinery. Construction workers are at risk of being injured when they operate heavy machinery near other heavy machinery, and sometimes even construction workers can cause accidents. If you’re ever in an accident at work due to someone else’s negligence, it’s best to contact an experienced attorney who helps with construction accident cases as soon as possible. You should always speak with an attorney before deciding on how to handle your case. Here are a few examples of dangerous heavy machinery commonly used in construction work:

  1. Cranes: Cranes are essential for lifting and moving heavy materials, such as steel beams and concrete blocks. However, their size and weight make them potentially hazardous if not operated by trained professionals or if proper safety protocols are not followed.
  2. Excavators: Excavators are powerful machines used for digging, trenching, and earthmoving tasks. They have a rotating platform, a hydraulic arm, and a bucket attachment. Due to their size and range of motion, they can be dangerous if operated improperly or in proximity to workers.
  3. Bulldozers: Bulldozers are heavy-duty machines equipped with a large metal blade in the front used for pushing soil, rubble, and other materials. Their size and power make them capable of causing severe accidents if not operated with care or if workers are in their blind spots.
  4. Front-End Loaders: Front-end loaders, also known as wheel loaders, are used for lifting and moving materials. They have a large front bucket that can scoop and transport heavy loads. These machines can become dangerous if the load is unbalanced or if workers are not clear of the operating area.
  5. Backhoes: Backhoes are versatile machines with a digging bucket on the back and a loader bucket on the front. They are commonly used for excavation, trenching, and loading tasks. Backhoes can be hazardous if not operated by trained personnel or if workers are in close proximity to the swinging arm or bucket.

Remember, it is crucial to prioritize safety and adhere to proper operating procedures when working with heavy machinery. Employers should provide comprehensive training to operators and ensure that all workers are aware of the potential hazards associated with these machines.

Electric Shock

Electrician working on power lines on the street.
Photo by Kelly

Electricity can travel through wires, pipes, and other conduits to reach its destination. Something can happen to the wire or conduit, like a break in a wire or a crack in the conduit that stops electricity from reaching its destination. Electricity can also be blocked when someone gets between two wires that are touching each other. If a worker is injured from an electrical shock, he or she could suffer serious injuries. This can be problematic, as many of all construction accidents are due to electrical shock.

Consequences of Electrical Shocks and Prevention

Electrical shocks can have severe consequences on individuals who experience them. Here are some potential outcomes of suffering from electrical shocks:

  1. Electric Burns: Electrical shocks can cause burns on the skin where the electrical current enters and exits the body. The severity of the burns depends on the voltage and duration of the shock. These burns can range from minor injuries to deep tissue damage requiring medical attention.
  2. Cardiac Arrest: A strong electrical shock can disrupt the normal rhythm of the heart, leading to cardiac arrest. This can be life-threatening and requires immediate medical intervention, including cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) and defibrillation.
  3. Neurological Injuries: Electrical shocks can also result in neurological injuries. The electrical current can interfere with the body's nervous system, potentially causing muscle contractions, paralysis, or damage to the brain and spinal cord.
  4. Internal Injuries: The sudden muscle contractions caused by electrical shocks can result in falls or collisions with nearby objects, leading to internal injuries, fractures, or head trauma.

To prevent electrical shocks and mitigate the risks associated with them, the following measures should be taken:

  1. Electrical Safety Training: Workers should receive comprehensive training on electrical safety, including proper handling of electrical equipment, identification of potential hazards, and safe work practices.
  2. Use of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE): Workers should wear appropriate PPE, such as insulated gloves, rubber-soled shoes, and safety glasses, when working near electrical sources. This helps protect against electrical shock and potential burns.
  3. Regular Equipment Maintenance: Regular inspections and maintenance of electrical equipment and wiring systems should be conducted to identify and repair any faults or potential hazards.
  4. Lockout/Tagout Procedures: Implementing lockout/tagout procedures ensures that electrical equipment is properly de-energized and secured before any maintenance or repair work is performed.
  5. Avoidance of Water and Conductive Materials: Water and other conductive materials significantly increase the risk of electrical shock. Construction sites should have proper drainage systems and measures in place to prevent water accumulation or contact with electrical equipment. It is crucial to maintain a safe distance from electrical sources when working in wet conditions or in the presence of conductive materials.

Remember, electrical safety is paramount in the construction industry. Adhering to proper safety protocols, providing adequate training, and maintaining a vigilant approach to potential electrical hazards can help prevent accidents and protect workers from the consequences of electrical shocks.

Exposure to Chemicals

Person in a protective suit checking for hazardous material.
Photo by Matilda Wormwood

Many contractors working on construction sites—including those in the building and remodeling trades—are exposed to a variety of harmful chemicals as part of the job. Compounds like lead, asbestos, crystalline silica, polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs), and polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) may cause cancer and other debilitating illnesses. To minimize the risk of injuries, workers must be trained on all chemicals they could be exposed to. Proper safety precautions should be also taken by construction companies to minimize hazardous exposure to these materials.

Standard Safety Procedures for Chemical Exposure on Construction Sites

To ensure the safety of workers and minimize the risk of injuries associated with chemical exposure on construction sites, standard safety procedures should be followed. Here are some common safety measures and protocols:

  1. Hazard Communication Program: Construction companies should implement a hazard communication program that includes proper labeling of chemical containers, safety data sheets (SDS) for each hazardous substance, and employee training on the potential hazards of the chemicals they may come into contact with.
  2. Personal Protective Equipment (PPE): Workers should be provided with and trained on the proper use of personal protective equipment, including gloves, goggles, respirators, coveralls, and other appropriate gear. The specific PPE requirements may vary depending on the chemicals involved.
  3. Engineering Controls: Construction companies should implement engineering controls to minimize hazardous exposure to chemicals. This may include local exhaust ventilation systems, enclosure of processes that release chemicals, and the use of barriers or shields to prevent direct contact.
  4. Safe Handling and Storage: Workers should be trained on the safe handling, storage, and disposal of hazardous chemicals. This includes proper procedures for opening containers, transferring substances, and cleaning up spills. Chemicals should be stored in designated areas with clear labeling and appropriate ventilation.
  5. Regular Monitoring and Testing: Regular monitoring and testing of the air quality should be conducted to identify any potential exposure risks. This may involve air sampling and analysis to ensure that chemical concentrations are within acceptable limits.
  6. Emergency Preparedness: Construction sites should have an emergency response plan in place to address accidental spills, leaks, or chemical exposures. This plan should include procedures for evacuations, first aid measures, and communication with emergency responders.
  7. Training and Education: Workers should receive comprehensive training on the specific chemicals they may be exposed to, including their potential health effects and safe handling practices. Ongoing education and refresher training should be provided to ensure workers remain aware of the risks and proper safety protocols.

By implementing these standard safety procedures, construction companies can minimize hazardous exposure to chemicals and protect the health and well-being of their workers. It is essential to comply with applicable regulations and standards, as well as regularly review and update safety protocols to address new hazards and developments in the industry.

Falling Objects

Hammer, wrench, nails and other construction tools in a white background
Image by PublicDomainPictures from Pixabay

The most common consequence of a falling object in a construction site is head injury. When objects fall from heights, they can strike workers with significant force, resulting in severe head injuries. Head injuries can range from minor cuts and bruises to concussions, skull fractures, or traumatic brain injuries. These injuries can have long-lasting effects on the victim's physical and cognitive abilities, and in severe cases, they can even be fatal.

To mitigate the risk of falling object injuries on construction sites, it is essential to follow safety precautions, including:

  1. Never standing under a heavy object: Avoid standing directly beneath objects that are being lifted or moved, especially if they are not adequately secured. Stay clear of areas where overhead work is being conducted.
  2. Wearing a hard hat at all times: A hard hat is a crucial piece of personal protective equipment that helps protect the head from falling objects. It should be worn consistently on the construction site, even in areas where falling objects may seem unlikely.
  3. Ensuring coworkers are not in harm's way: Construction workers should be vigilant and aware of their surroundings. Before performing any task that involves lifting or moving objects, they should ensure that their coworkers are positioned safely and out of harm's way.
  4. Reporting defective equipment or unsafe working conditions: If workers notice any defective equipment or unsafe working conditions that could lead to falling object hazards, they should immediately report them to the management or supervisors. Prompt action should be taken to address and rectify the issues to prevent accidents.

By implementing these safety measures and promoting a culture of awareness and communication, the risk of falling object injuries can be significantly reduced on construction sites. It is the responsibility of both workers and employers to prioritize safety and take proactive measures to create a safe work environment.

Ladder Accidents

Ladder mounted on a scaffold on the side of a building.
Image by PublicDomainPictures from Pixabay

In cases where a worker slips and falls from a ladder, both the ladder itself and the construction company may potentially be held liable for the worker's injuries. Here's an explanation of how ladder or construction company liability can arise:

  1. Defective Ladder: If the ladder used by the worker was defective, meaning it had a manufacturing or design flaw that contributed to the fall, the ladder manufacturer or distributor may be held liable. Defects could include faulty construction, weak or damaged components, or improper assembly. In such cases, the injured worker may have grounds to pursue a product liability claim against the ladder manufacturer or distributor.
  2. Inappropriate use of the Ladder: If the ladder was not used in accordance with safety guidelines and industry standards, the worker's own actions may contribute to the fall. However, the construction company may still be held liable if they failed to provide adequate training on ladder safety or if they did not enforce proper ladder usage protocols. The employer has a duty to ensure that workers receive appropriate training and education on ladder safety and that safety protocols are followed on the construction site.

Establishing liability in ladder fall cases requires a thorough investigation of the circumstances surrounding the accident. Factors such as the condition and maintenance of the ladder, adherence to safety guidelines, training records, and any previous incidents involving ladder safety will be considered.

If it is determined that the ladder was defective or that the construction company failed to uphold their duty of ensuring a safe work environment, the injured worker may be entitled to seek compensation for their injuries. This can include medical expenses, lost wages, pain and suffering, and other damages resulting from the fall.

Burn Injuries

Welder fixing a piece of aluminum.
Image by Michal Jarmoluk from Pixabay

Burn injuries are common in construction work. Welding and grinding tools are the primary cause of burns, but burns can also be caused by exposure to hot surfaces, heated machinery, or even electrical accidents. Burns are especially common in winter months when workers often wear multiple layers of clothing to protect against the cold. These pieces of clothing are more susceptible to catching fire, which can make burns more likely. If a worker sustains serious burns from equipment or another person’s negligence on the job, they might be eligible for worker’s compensation benefits.

Construction companies implement various standard measures to protect employees from burn injuries. Here are some common ways in which construction companies prioritize burn injury prevention:

  1. Proper Training: Construction companies provide comprehensive training programs to workers on burn injury prevention. This includes educating employees about the risks associated with welding and grinding tools, hot surfaces, heated machinery, and electrical hazards. Workers are trained on safe work practices, proper use of protective equipment, and the importance of situational awareness to prevent burn incidents.
  2. Personal Protective Equipment (PPE): Employers ensure that workers have access to and properly use appropriate PPE to minimize the risk of burn injuries. This can include flame-resistant clothing, welding gloves, face shields, safety goggles, and heat-resistant boots. The type of PPE required depends on the specific tasks and potential burn hazards present at the construction site.
  3. Hazard Identification and Control: Construction companies conduct thorough hazard assessments to identify potential burn hazards. They implement engineering controls, such as insulation or guarding of hot surfaces, to minimize the risk of contact with heated equipment. Adequate signage, barricades, and warning systems are also utilized to alert workers to potential burn hazards and control access to restricted areas.
  4. Fire Prevention and Control: Construction sites have fire prevention and control measures in place, including fire extinguishers, fire alarms, and evacuation plans. Adequate training on fire safety and emergency response procedures is provided to workers to ensure a quick and effective response in case of a fire-related incident.
  5. Proper Handling of Flammable Materials: Construction companies establish protocols for the safe handling, storage, and disposal of flammable materials. This includes providing suitable containers, ensuring proper ventilation, and following established procedures for the use of flammable substances.
  6. Regular Equipment Inspection and Maintenance: Construction companies prioritize regular inspection and maintenance of equipment to ensure safe operation and minimize the risk of malfunctions that could lead to burn injuries.
  7. Winter Safety Measures: During the winter months, when workers often wear multiple layers of clothing for protection against the cold, construction companies emphasize the importance of proper layering techniques. Workers are educated on selecting appropriate flame-resistant clothing and avoiding loose-fitting garments that can easily catch fire.

By implementing these standard practices, construction companies aim to protect employees from burn injuries and create a safer working environment. If a worker sustains serious burns due to equipment malfunctions or negligence on the job, they may be eligible for worker's compensation benefits. It is crucial for workers to report such incidents promptly and seek legal advice from experienced attorneys specializing in workers' compensation to understand their rights and potential avenues for compensation.

Repetitive Motion Injuries

Man with pain in his back.
Photo by Andrea Piacquadio

Repetitive motion injuries are a big issue on construction sites, as the same motion is performed over and over again. Each time it is performed, pressure builds, which eventually leads to pain and injuries. The most common repetitive motion injuries include carpal tunnel syndrome, tendinitis, and bursitis.

Carpal tunnel syndrome, a disorder affecting the wrist nerve, can result when there is pressure on the nearby nerve caused by repetitive activity. Tendinitis, or pain and inflammation of the tendon, can also result from repetitive movement caused by overuse of a joint or muscle group in the body. Both of these conditions result from long-term abuse to joints or muscles in the body.

Conclusion

We hope this article proves to be useful when it comes to helping you gain a better understanding of the most common construction-related injuries. As you can see, there are a multitude of accidents that you need to be wary of while you’re at work. While accidents may happen regardless, keeping yourself informed will go a long way when it comes to preventing avoidable incidents. Be sure to keep everything you’ve learned here in mind so that you can avoid serious injuries while you’re at work.

Let’s face it, accidents happen. This is why it’s important that you protect yourself as much as you can. If you are looking for experienced workers' compensation lawyers in Los Angeles, then we at Mendez & Sanchez Law are at your service. Our attorneys and team members are here to help you through the difficult legal landscape as we pursue the compensation you deserve. Call us today and let us discuss your current accident-related situation.

FAQs

1. What are the most common construction-related accidents?

The most common construction-related accidents include falls, equipment collisions, electric shock, exposure to chemicals, falling objects, ladder accidents, burn injuries, and repetitive motion injuries.

2. How can falls be prevented at construction sites?

Falls can be prevented at construction sites by using safety equipment like guardrails, ensuring proper training for workers, maintaining clear and unobstructed walkways, and implementing fall protection measures such as harnesses and safety nets.

3. Who can be held liable in equipment collision accidents?

In equipment collision accidents, liability can depend on the specific circumstances. The liable party could be the operator of the equipment, another worker who failed to follow safety protocols, or the employer who failed to provide proper training or maintain a safe work environment. It is best to consult with an experienced attorney to determine the appropriate course of action.

4. What safety precautions should be taken to minimize exposure to chemicals?

To minimize exposure to chemicals, workers should receive proper training on the chemicals they may come into contact with, use personal protective equipment such as gloves and masks, follow safety guidelines and protocols when handling and disposing of chemicals, and ensure proper ventilation in areas where chemicals are present.

5. How can ladder accidents be avoided on construction sites?

Ladder accidents can be avoided on construction sites by using ladders that are in good condition and appropriate for the task at hand, ensuring that ladders are placed on stable surfaces and secured, maintaining three points of contact while climbing or descending, and providing proper training on ladder safety to all workers. Regular inspection and maintenance of ladders are also essential to prevent accidents.

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