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What are the leading causes of accidents on construction sites?

Falls, electrical shocks, collisions with objects and excavation accidents rank among the leading causes of catastrophic construction accidents.

Construction has earned a reputation as one of the most demanding and potentially dangerous jobs to perform in California. In 2014 alone, over 28,000 construction workers throughout the state suffered injuries in the course of their jobs, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Over 17,000 of these injuries were severe enough to result in time missed from work, occupational restrictions or the victim's transfer to another job.

Sadly, many of these injuries may stem from a few common hazards that are present on many construction sites. It is critical for workers as well as their employers to be aware of these common causes of construction worker injuries.

Electrical contact

Shock injuries may occur when electrical equipment is misused or when construction workers unwittingly come into contact with an electrical current. Shocks can cause several types of burns, internal injuries and even cardiac arrest, according to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration. Tragically, electrocution accidents claim the lives of about 350 construction workers each year.

OSHA recommends that workers always carefully inspect electrical equipment before using it. Items that lack a path to the ground or ground-fault protection should be taken out of use and replaced immediately. Furthermore, workers should avoid utilizing modified electrical equipment, such as cords, tools and receptacles, since modifications may circumvent manufacturer safety features.

Collisions with objects

Many construction workers may suffer severe or catastrophic work-related injuries as a result of being struck by objects, such as dropped items, falling walls and motor vehicles. The following pieces of protective gear can reduce the risk of these accidents:

  • Hardhats, which offer protection against falling objects
  • Face shields or safety goggles, which can halt flying particles
  • Brightly colored or reflective clothing, which improves a worker's visibility

On-site safety equipment, such as debris nets, barricades and bracing, can also help prevent these incidents.

Trenching accidents

Construction workers may face a number of dangers during trenching and excavation work, including cave-ins, drowning and asphyxiation. Regular inspections and testing of trenching sites can help identify potential hazards early, while careful placement of excavated materials can reduce the risk of a trench collapse. To lower the likelihood of serious outcomes in the event of an accident, routes of egress should be easily accessible, and a professional should always design or review these routes.

Personal falls

Falls are a huge threat to construction workers, accounting for about one-third of all fatalities that occur in the industry. Common causes of falls include faulty construction of scaffolding, unsafe use of ladders and failure to cover openings in walls or floors. Many falls can be prevented or mitigated through the use of guardrails, fall arrest systems or safety nets. The covering of exposed steel rebar can also help prevent serious or fatal fall injuries.

Compensation for construction accidents

Sadly, accidents that involve any of these factors have potential to cause serious and even life-changing injuries. Fortunately, workers who have suffered such injuries may be eligible to receive workers' compensation benefits, which may help address wage loss, medical costs and more. An attorney may be able to provide further information regarding a worker's rights and the process of pursuing recourse.

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