Construction worker on scaffolding.

Construction: One of the Most Dangerous Jobs in California

Why Construction Workers Are More at Risk of an Injury

According to a study conducted by the California Department of Industrial Relations, the construction industry had the second-highest number of fatalities between 2013 and 2017. The study reported that construction accidents accounted for 17% of all work-related deaths (309 deaths in total). Although the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) requires all employers to comply with their safety and health requirements, fatal construction accidents are still happening.

Here are the top reasons why construction workers are at a higher risk.

Fall, Tripping, and Slipping Hazards

Of the 69 cases reported in the study mentioned above, in 2017, 32 worker fatalities in construction were related to falls, trips, and slips. The following may cause these types of accidents:

  • Floors and stairways are slippery from water, grease, or other oily substances.
  • Boxes, electrical cords, and equipment are left in aisles and walkways.
  • Uneven floors, or floors with shallow holes and depressions.
  • Stairways have missing rails or treads.
  • Elevated work areas/surfaces are missing guardrails and toeboards.

Unsafe Equipment

When equipment isn’t maintained or set up correctly, it can pose a deadly hazard to construction workers. Typical items found on construction sites can be a catalyst to a fatal accident if not used correctly.

The following are safety precautions for each as recommended by OSHA:

Scaffolding Safety

  • Scaffolds should be placed on a secure footing.
  • All damaged parts should be replaced upon discovery.
  • Scaffolds should not be altered.
  • Do not move the scaffold while workers are on them (unless designed for mobile use).
  • Employees should not work on scaffold platforms when the platform is covered with snow, ice, or other slippery substances.
  • Employees should not work on scaffolds in inclement weather or high winds.
  • Do not use ladders, boxes, or other makeshift platforms to raise work height.
  • Do not use any extra materials to build up on scaffolding platforms.
  • Follow all maximum weight requirements on platforms (including the total weight of workers and equipment).

Crane Safety

  • Cranes should not be operated within 10 feet of any electrical power lines.
  • Each crane has a load chart on board, and the operator understands the use of the load chart.
  • Crane machinery and rigging equipment should be inspected before use and be in good working order.
  • All accessible areas near the crane swing radius are barricaded from employees.
  • Guardrails, handholds, and steps are provided for safe access to and from the crane areas.
  • Only qualified and trained workers should operate crane machinery.
  • Follow the maximum load requirements.
  • Crane walkways and platforms have anti-skid surfaces.

Forklift Safety

  • Only trained and qualified employees should operate a forklift.
  • No one under 18 is permitted to use a forklift.
  • Forklifts are inspected daily to ensure brakes, steering, forks, and tires are all working correctly.
  • Overhead guards are in place to protect workers from falling objects.
  • Any forklifts that are defective or unsafe should be removed from service immediately.
  • Forklift operators are to use the truck at safe speeds.
  • All loads in the forklift should be safely arranged to fit the proper recommended capacity of the truck.
  • Forklift battery charging should be conducted in a designated area, and no smoking should be permitted in these areas.

Lack of Protection from Electrical Power Lines

It may be necessary for construction areas to have power lines on site. However, when OSHA safety standards aren’t followed, a construction worker can be at risk of fatal injury, including thermal burns and electrocution. The following are electrical safety standards that should be followed on every construction site:

  • Do not work on any existing, live (hot) electrical circuits until all power is shut off and electrical grounds are attached.
  • Replace all frayed, damaged, or worn electrical cords.
  • All extension cords should be equipped with grounding prongs.
  • All electrical tools should be checked for damage and replaced immediately if a defect is found.

Lack of Protection When Working Near Trenches

Unfortunately, trench and excavation accidents are not uncommon, and many are the cause of fatal injuries. From cave-ins and collapses to exposure to hazardous gases, vapors, and dust, trench workers should be protected by the following precautions:

  • Keep heavy equipment away from trench edges.
  • Keep excavated soil and other materials at least 2 feet from trench edges.
  • Identify where underground utilities are located before digging.
  • Ensure protective systems are in place to prevent cave-ins, such as sloping or benching trench walls, shoring trench walls with supports, or shielding trench walls with trench boxes.
  • Ensure all employees have a safe way to enter and exit the trench.
  • Never enter a trench before it has been adequately inspected for safety.

You Need a Personal Injury Attorney That Delivers Results

Our experience with personal injury claims allowed } to secure a $1.5 million settlement on behalf of our client who was struck by a concrete hose after a compressed air explosion and sustained injuries to the spine, brain, and shoulder as a result. The explosion happened because the concrete pumping company allowed the level of concrete in the pump hopper to get low and negligently mixed a foreign material in with the concrete, which also created a blockage in the pump that contributed to the accident.

If you’ve been injured in a construction accident and sustained severe injuries, we can help. You have the right to seek justice and receive the compensation you deserve.

Injured in a Construction Accident? Contact Us Today to Learn Your Rights.

At Rouda Feder Tietjen & McGuinn, we have extensive experience in protecting the rights of construction workers who have been seriously injured in an accident. We’re passionate about recovering the damages our clients deserve so they can receive the medical treatments necessary following a devastating work accident. If you or a loved one was hurt in a construction accident, we can help.

Our team at Rouda Feder Tietjen & McGuinn is here to help construction accident victims in San Francisco and the Bay Area. Contact us today at (415) 940-7176 or use our online form to schedule a free consultation.