In Ohio, and across the U.S., construction work is a leading cause of occupational injury and death. A 2015 report from the Ohio Bureau of Workers’ Compensation named construction as among the top three most dangerous fields and stated that 21 construction workers were killed that year on the job. According to the National Bureau of Labor Statistics, construction fatalities have risen to the highest rate since 2008. Additionally, state construction workers suffer non-fatal injuries at one of the highest rates of any field, at 3.3 per 100 workers. So, why are construction injuries so common? What kind of injuries are Ohio employees experiencing? What can be done to encourage the safety of our workforce?
Construction Sites Pose Unique Risks to Ohio Workers
Construction sites are inherently risky places for those who visit them. They are typically loud and busy. Workers perform demanding physical tasks, often at great heights or using heavy machinery. The changing nature of a job site often results in clutter, unmanned holes, and other hazards. Additionally, construction workers face significant dangers from what the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has dubbed “The Fatal Four.” These are:
- Falls – Falls are the leading cause of injury and death for construction workers, accounting more than one-third of all construction-related deaths. Frequent use of ladders and scaffolds, working from heights, and slippery and uneven surfaces all contribute to dangerous falls.
- Struck by object – Struck by accidents occur when a worker forcibly comes into contact with an object or piece of equipment. These types of accidents can involve objects that are falling, swinging, rolling, or flying.
- Electrocution – The OSHA defines electrocution as when a person is exposed to a lethal amount of electrical energy. It can result in burns, heart problems, and even death. This most commonly occurs when workers are exposed to contact with overhead power lines or other energized sources and by the improper use of extension cords.
- Caught in or between – This category includes construction workers killed when caught-in or compressed by equipment or objects, and struck, caught, or crushed in collapsing structure, equipment, or material.
These four types of accidents were responsible for 64 percent of construction worker deaths in 2015, and OSHA states that eliminating these types of incidents would save the lives of more than 600 American construction workers every year.
Serious Construction Injuries Sustained on Job Sites
The fatal four, and other types of accidents, cause a variety of serious injuries to Ohio construction workers every year. Some of the most common job site injuries include:
- Muscle sprains and strains
- Broken bones
- Back injury
- Traumatic brain injury
- Eye injury
While these injuries and others are often treatable, they can cause significant pain and suffering to the injured worker and his family. Additionally, many of these injuries require serious medical treatment and rehabilitation, which can force an employee to miss work and lose income. This financial strain only adds to what is already a difficult and stressful situation.
Employers Need to Do Their Part to Prevent Construction Injuries
While accidents do happen, there are many times when a construction injury could have been avoided with a simple amount of care. Unfortunately, injuries often occur as a direct result of violations of federal safety mandates, and construction-related violations are among the top safety violations reported by OSHA. Among the top 10 most frequently cited standards, three were categorized specifically under construction, with fall protection leading the list.
To encourage the safety of everyone on and near a construction site, OSHA offers a number of safety tips, including:
- Wear appropriate safety gear. This includes hard hats, eye protection, and harnesses when working from heights.
- Workers should be trained on any equipment they will use, especially ladders and scaffolds.
- Hazardous material should be clearly identified.
- Guard open shafts and holes to prevent falls and falling objects.
- Keep work areas as clean and dry as possible.
- Guard and de-energize equipment when not in use.
If you or someone you love has suffered a construction injury, you may be eligible for workers’ compensation benefits. If the employer violated specific safety requirements, you may also be eligible for a sizable increase in your compensation rate. The experienced legal team at Monast Law Office has helped many Ohio employees obtain the care and compensation they deserved after an accident. Call our Upper Arlington office today to learn more about how we may be able to help.