This is the first part of a two-part blog on construction-site injuries. Be sure to stay tuned for the second part. The attorneys at Powell Law have witnessed the development and expansion of the construction industry for 110 years. This time period began in 1906 when James Powell, Sr. founded this law firm with a commitment to protect the rights of injured workers, a commitment which continues today.
Despite the evolution of technology and state-of-the art safety measures made possible by an increase in government regulation and oversight, individuals employed as construction workers face countless risks and hazards in doing their jobs which may result in injuries that are debilitating and permanent. Falls, electrocution, being struck by an object, and being “caught-in/between” are the leading causes of worker deaths on construction sites. These “Fatal Four” were responsible for more than half (57.6%) of construction worker fatalities in 2014.
The causes of construction injuries are varied and numerous, with some easier to detect than others. Workers familiar with common injury causes have a better chance of avoiding injury. Below, is a list of the most common causes of construction injuries. Because it is summer, let’s start with injuries related to heat.
Exposure to Extreme Heat and Overexertion
Heat stress may cause brain, heart, kidney damage, or even death. Hypothermia or frostbite may result in the loss of fingers, toes, and parts of the face. It may also result in death.
Heavy machinery and equipment can malfunction because of human or mechanical error. Often, one causes the other to occur. Equipment may pin or crush a worker causing death or serious injury. A piece of clothing or worse, an arm or leg, may get trapped in a machine. Heavy equipment that causes injury due to a design or manufacturing defect may subject qualifying parties to liability under a products liability theory. The attorneys at Powell Law are familiar with equipment accidents and are capable of determining if such a cause of action exists for an injured worker.
It’s no surprise that falls are one of the most common causes of construction injuries. Not just tripping over objects on the ground, but also falling from a higher level of a building or piece of equipment (like a crane) to some lower level.
Repetitive Motion Injury
As many construction jobs demand hard physical labor, workers often have injuries caused by overexertion and repetitive motion, causing muscle and joint damage.
Not only are construction workers at risk when they work at higher levels, but when on ground or a lower level of a construction site, workers are at risk of being struck by objects that fall from above. These objects may include tools, bricks, and other building supplies. Brain and spinal injuries easily may occur as a result of these accidents, even with the use of safety equipment such as a hardhat.
It’s not uncommon for a building being demolished or under construction to unexpectedly collapse.. Significant and serious injuries result from such accidents.
Fire and Explosion
Hazardous conditions exist on construction sites because of flammable chemicals, exposed wiring, and other leaks. All of the foregoing hazards may cause fires and explosions.
Exposure to Lead or Asbestos/Coal Mining
Many work sites are unsafe because of exposure to lead or asbestos. About one in six cases for lead poisoning involves a construction worker. Workers still die from pneumoconiosis, which is legally defined as a chronic dust disease of the lungs arising out employment, usually from working in coal mines.
Powell Law has protected the rights of Pennsylvania workers for over 110 years. If you have a work-related injury, consult the experienced workers’ compensation attorneys at Powell Law. Your first consultation is free. Contact us online or call (570) 961-0777.